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Fully charged!

The number of electric cars in Germany continues to rise faster than the number of charging stations. What should you do if an illegally parked car prevents you from using public e-parking spaces?

In 2020, nine electric cars had to share a single charging station. The number rose to 11 in the following year. Frequently, e-vehicle drivers find that public e-parking spaces are occupied by vehicles that are powered by internal combustion engines or by e-vehicles that have completed the charging process. German lawmakers have addressed this problem in the Electric Mobility Act (Elektromobilitätsgesetz). Cities in Germany now have the option of creating preferred parking spaces for electric vehicles – including ones that do not necessarily act as charging stations. Cities can write various regulations and – with the charging process in mind – set a maximum period of time that a vehicle may be parked there until it must be removed.

Be careful: immediate towing possible!

Drivers who unlawfully park their vehicle on a space equipped with a public charging station can expect to pay a €55 fine and have their vehicle towed. For instance, the Gelsenkirchen Administrative Court (ruling dated 23/1/2020 – 17 K 4015/18) ruled that unlawfully parked non-electric vehicles could be towed without delay. The court based its decision on a ruling that the German Administrative Court issued in 2002. The national court ruled that the rights of road users have been violated – and thus justification for a vehicle’s towing existed – if the function of a traffic area has been impaired (German Administrative Court, ruling dated 18/ 2/ 2002 – 3 B 149/01 (Hamburg)). It is a legal situation that, conversely, should cause companies with e-fleets to take notice: As the owners of electric vehicles, they can expect to have these vehicles towed immediately if the operator of the company car does not remove the vehicle from a public e-parking space once the vehicle has been charged or the maximum charging period has been exceeded.

“E” for “obligatory”

As a rule, electric vehicles may use public e-parking spaces only if their number plate contains the supplemental letter “E”. Please bear this in mind: This rule also applies to those vehicles that are produced only as e-models and could also be identified as such without any additional information. The language covering this situation is included in Section 4(1) of the Electric Mobility Act. This section states that preferred treatment may be extended only to those vehicles that bear a plainly visible designation – that is the letter “E”.  

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Applies to the German market.

Please note that the content of this website is designed only for general information purposes and is not to be used as a source of legal advice. In addition, each case must be considered on the basis of its individual circumstances. Binding legal advice may be provided only by a lawyer.

Status: 30. Juni 2022

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