Thursday, 17 September 2009

Drunkards Protection Law

As the Oktoberfest approaches (two days hence) the German courts have stepped in to protect those who have had one too many and cross the road against red lights. (Visitors to Germany will know that most Germans are scrupulous in not crossing roads until the green man appears.)

It seems that one such drunk did so three years ago and was run down by a motor bike proceeding at legal speed. The motor cyclist sued the drunk for damages and in a court hearing came out with half the blame being apportioned to her. A Munich court ruled on Monday that she "was 50 percent responsible" for the accident at the festival, which attracts millions of revellers every year. "During the Octoberfest it is well known that a large number of drunk people are on the streets at night, who can not always be trusted to observe the rules of the road," the court said. "The motorcyclist should have adjusted her speed to be able to avoid these people."

The woman was ordered to pay half the damages, estimated at €2,500, and her bid for €1,000 compensation for minor injuries sustained in the accident was refused. The man she hit - who was fighting her demand for damages in court - was held responsible for the other half of the money because he was crossing the street illegally.

Commenters on this story were split on the outcome, but most, presumably putting themselves in the drunk's shoes, backed the drunk. It seems like here, you must expect the unexpected when driving and drunks are, oddly enough, to be expected at Oktoberfest.

The 'drunkards protection law' is usually referred to as the Strassen Verkehrs Ordnung, which protects all road users be they drunk or otherwise and requires of everyone that they take reasonable care to avoid causing accidents.

I am grateful to for the story.

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