Speeders have been punished more severely for almost five years – since then more than 3,600 procedures have been initiated in Berlin for prohibited motor vehicle races. In the first half of 2022 there were around 450 cases, as the public prosecutor announced on request. In the majority of the cases (388), the suspects are known. By the end of 2021, Berlin criminal courts had convicted speeders in more than 670 cases, according to the Senate Justice Department.
In a particularly blatant case, the regional court passed its verdict last March: five years in prison for a 22-year-old who was the only one to survive a speeding accident in Berlin-Treptow that killed three people. The judges found the 22-year-old guilty of a prohibited motor vehicle race resulting in death and intentionally endangering road traffic. In addition, the court imposed a blocking period of five years on his driver’s license.
Such convictions have been possible since October 2017. At that time, prohibited motor vehicle racing was upgraded from an administrative offense to a criminal offence. Since then, participation in such races can be punished with up to two years in prison. Previously there were only fines. The new paragraph 315d in the penal code also provides for up to ten years in prison if the death of another person is caused by a prohibited motor vehicle race.
A special department for banned motor vehicle races was created at the Berlin public prosecutor’s office, which is the investigative authority responsible for prosecuting minor to medium-sized crimes. With almost 2,340 procedures – including against unknown drivers – most cases were processed there. The district court Tiergarten is responsible for this. Cases like the horror crash in Treptow end up in the regional court, which can impose higher penalties.
A spokesman for the public prosecutor said that there were hardly any repeat offenders among the drivers who had been convicted. Even the immediate confiscation of the driver’s license is perceived by the perpetrators – usually men – as a “dramatic, noticeable measure”.
The capital is considered a hotspot for illegal car racing. The case of the Ku’damm racers, in which an uninvolved driver (69) died in February 2016, made headlines nationwide. The car of the fatality is currently in the German Museum of Technology in Berlin in the special exhibition “Madness – Illegal Car Racing. How do we stop the speed frenzy?” With the criminal assessment of this case, Berlin had entered new legal territory. In the meantime, the two drivers have been convicted of murder for the illegal car race.