Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

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Badger1754
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Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by Badger1754 » Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:25 pm

Wife and I were in Germany three months ago for a quick vacation. During our trip, I apparently drove too quickly through a small village and was captured by a speed camera.

Here's what happened yesterday:
  • I received a letter in the mail (to my US address, obviously) from the "Die Landesregierung Nordrhein-Westfalen" (government of North Rhine-Westphalia).
  • The letter was entirely in German.
  • I do not speak or read German.
  • I think I owe €10 as a fine. This is based on a grainy traffic camera picture of me behind the wheel, with "€10" next to it.
  • It appears I can pay my fine in two ways: 1) via a bank transfer from an EU bank (I think that's what the IBAN refers to), or 2) by going in person to the traffic police somewhere in Nordrhein-Westfalen (the letter helpfully included a map).
  • It does not appear that I can pay my fine 3) online, or 4) via credit card.
  • I tried calling the number, and I got someone yelling at me in German.
  • I went to the website of "Die Landesregierung Nordrhein-Westfalen" on the letter, and it very helpfully drew my attention to all the tourist attractions of the region, some of which I saw three months ago!
Not sure whether to laugh or cry or shrug at this point.
Last edited by Badger1754 on Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Thesaints
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by Thesaints » Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:33 pm

Don't go back to Duisburg...

chevca
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by chevca » Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:35 pm

Send a letter back saying you'll pay in person next time you're in town? :happy

If they sent a pic, it doesn't sound that much like a scam. But, I still wouldn't be comfortable using my bank account info to pay this online.

Were you in a rental car... how'd they even track you down?

Topic Author
Badger1754
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by Badger1754 » Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:42 pm

chevca wrote:
Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:35 pm
Send a letter back saying you'll pay in person next time you're in town? :happy

If they sent a pic, it doesn't sound that much like a scam. But, I still wouldn't be comfortable using my bank account info to pay this online.

Were you in a rental car... how'd they even track you down?
The problem is that it appears I can only pay from a European (German?) bank, so I couldn't pay if I tried :D.

And yes, the Sixt Rental Car Company very helpfully informed me that they will be charging me a €25 "administrative processing fee" for forwarding the €10 fine, but did not pay the fine on my behalf. :oops:

dknightd
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by dknightd » Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:57 pm

Badger1754 wrote:
Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:42 pm
And yes, the Sixt Rental Car Company very helpfully informed me that they will be charging me a €25 "administrative processing fee" for forwarding the €10 fine, but did not pay the fine on my behalf. :oops:
I'd assume that the rental car company paid the fine as part of the fee. If they did not I'd ask them to handle it for you to earn their fee.

Edit: you could always stick a $20 in an envelope and mail it to the address they provided, along with the picture, and say you were sorry and hoped this covered it. Trust me, somebody in that office speaks English.
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grog
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by grog » Tue Mar 10, 2020 1:15 pm

The state of Florida once mailed me a bill for $2 or $3 for a toll from when I was on vacation. But I didn't realize they would pursue people across national borders for €10.

At least you didn't turn into a giant cockroach. (I'm assuming ...)

turnturnturn
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by turnturnturn » Tue Mar 10, 2020 1:18 pm

If you really want to deal with it, it seems transferwise.com can handle this pretty easily. I don't have any relevant experience, though, so I'm not sure.
Last edited by turnturnturn on Tue Mar 10, 2020 1:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bighatnohorse
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by bighatnohorse » Tue Mar 10, 2020 1:22 pm

You might find the "Google Translate" online service helpful. I hope that you get it sorted.

Starfish
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by Starfish » Tue Mar 10, 2020 1:23 pm

Badger1754 wrote:
Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:25 pm
Wife and I were in Germany three months ago for a quick vacation. During our trip, I apparently drove too quickly through a small village and was captured by a speed camera.

Here's what happened yesterday:
  • I received a letter in the mail (to my US address, obviously) from the "Die Landesregierung Nordrhein-Westfalen" (government of North Rhine-Westphalia).
  • The letter was entirely in German.
  • I do not speak or read German.

I am not sure why is so surprising that the police sends letters in their language. If I am from Portugal and get a ticket in US do I get a letter in Portuguese?
I assume you own a phone, install a obscure app like Google Translate on it (if you traveled to Germany without understanding German you probably have it?), point the camera at your letter and voila, you get the English translation in the same font and appearance. At least you will know what they want from you. How is this a problem in 2020?

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Raymond
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by Raymond » Tue Mar 10, 2020 1:26 pm

grog wrote:
Tue Mar 10, 2020 1:15 pm

...At least you didn't turn into a giant cockroach. (I'm assuming ...)
If he did, at least he knows the nature of the charges against him.
"Ritter, Tod und Teufel"

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cheese_breath
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by cheese_breath » Tue Mar 10, 2020 1:28 pm

bighatnohorse wrote:
Tue Mar 10, 2020 1:22 pm
You might find the "Google Translate" online service helpful. I hope that you get it sorted.
Or if you live near a college or high school where German is taught I'm sure the instructor would read it for you. (S)he'd probably get a big kick out of it.
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.

MathWizard
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by MathWizard » Tue Mar 10, 2020 1:29 pm

Ask a German teacher at a local high school for a translation.

I got a traffic camera ticket from a trip to France. I could guess at
the amount, but had a friend translate for me.

I sent a check in US dollars in the appropriate amount at the current exchange rate
and that was the end of it.

Mine was for 35 Euro, so you got off cheap. The speed kept
changing between 110 and 130, and I was trying to keep from getting run over as I went
around Paris, so I missed one 130 to 110 slowdown. )

crre
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by crre » Tue Mar 10, 2020 1:33 pm

1) via a bank transfer from an EU bank (I think that's what the IBAN refers to)
you can transfer to a european bank from your u.s. bank. the iban is the information you need to do so.

whether you want to do so or not is another question. my u.s. bank charges me a hefty fee to make international transfers, well over the amount of the fine you owe.

mhalley
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by mhalley » Tue Mar 10, 2020 3:44 pm

I've heard Clark Howard talk about foreign tickets on his show in the past. Basically his opinion is that if it is an egregious offence, say driving 15mph over the speed limit, then he would pay. If it is a rinky dink offence that seems more like a cash grab, he wouldn't pay.

adamthesmythe
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by adamthesmythe » Tue Mar 10, 2020 4:53 pm

Send them a check on an American bank.

I did this quite a few years ago for an emergency room visit in Germany. I never heard from them again.

seawolf21
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by seawolf21 » Tue Mar 10, 2020 5:40 pm

Did the back of an envelope contain an attachment?

German law requires the violation to be prosecuted within a certain timeframe so there should have been a return receipt USPS should have detached and return back to Germany. If it is still attached to your envelope then authorities will not be able prove you were served. If return receipt still attached then just stay outside that jurisdiction for a couple of years and statue of limitations should run out. If receipt is not attached then you will have to serve up name of another driver if person in picture is not you, challenge the ticket or paid the ticket or ignore the ticket.

The charge rental car company charge is just an administrative charge. They will not and can not pay the fine on your behalf as they cannot declare innocence/guilt on your behalf.

You can pay via US bank but you will find the transaction charge will likely exceed the fine.

nalor511
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by nalor511 » Tue Mar 10, 2020 6:11 pm

Use transferwise to pay the 10 Euros, keep the receipt, move on. I've done it, fee will be under a dollar and it's super easy

seawolf21
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by seawolf21 » Tue Mar 10, 2020 6:25 pm

nalor511 wrote:
Tue Mar 10, 2020 6:11 pm
Use transferwise to pay the 10 Euros, keep the receipt, move on. I've done it, fee will be under a dollar and it's super easy
Thanks. OP might as well pay it if transaction fee is this low.

seawolf21
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by seawolf21 » Tue Mar 10, 2020 6:30 pm

mhalley wrote:
Tue Mar 10, 2020 3:44 pm
I've heard Clark Howard talk about foreign tickets on his show in the past. Basically his opinion is that if it is an egregious offence, say driving 15mph over the speed limit, then he would pay. If it is a rinky dink offence that seems more like a cash grab, he wouldn't pay.
Who is Clark Howard to judge German law and consider what is a cash grab and what is not?

The penalty is defined here:

https://www.bmvi.de/SharedDocs/EN/Artic ... fines.html
Last edited by seawolf21 on Tue Mar 10, 2020 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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happyisland
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by happyisland » Tue Mar 10, 2020 6:32 pm

I'm not seeing anything Kafkaesque about this situation.
I can't imagine any jurisdiction in the States issuing tickets in the violator's language, or accepting payment in a foreign currency.

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willthrill81
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by willthrill81 » Tue Mar 10, 2020 8:13 pm

dknightd wrote:
Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:57 pm
Badger1754 wrote:
Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:42 pm
And yes, the Sixt Rental Car Company very helpfully informed me that they will be charging me a €25 "administrative processing fee" for forwarding the €10 fine, but did not pay the fine on my behalf. :oops:
I'd assume that the rental car company paid the fine as part of the fee. If they did not I'd ask them to handle it for you to earn their fee.

Edit: you could always stick a $20 in an envelope and mail it to the address they provided, along with the picture, and say you were sorry and hoped this covered it. Trust me, somebody in that office speaks English.
:thumbsup Sounds like good advice to me.
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Kenkat
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by Kenkat » Tue Mar 10, 2020 8:54 pm

Call back and try saying this (remember, louder is better):

Hey du verrückter Deutscher, gibt es da jemanden, der das richtige Königsenglisch sprechen kann, mit dem ich sprechen könnte?

Google translate is fun if not entirely accurate.

chipaway
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by chipaway » Tue Mar 10, 2020 9:25 pm

Kenkat wrote:
Tue Mar 10, 2020 8:54 pm
Call back and try saying this (remember, louder is better):

Hey du verrückter Deutscher, gibt es da jemanden, der das richtige Königsenglisch sprechen kann, mit dem ich sprechen könnte?

Google translate is fun if not entirely accurate.
I read this five minutes ago, copied and pasted into Google translate and am still laughing!
"Hey you crazy German, is there someone who can speak the right King's English with whom I could speak?"

I'm sure that will get results! LOL

toofache32
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by toofache32 » Tue Mar 10, 2020 11:09 pm

Badger1754 wrote:
Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:25 pm
Wife and I were in Germany three months ago for a quick vacation. During our trip, I apparently drove too quickly through a small village and was captured by a speed camera.

Here's what happened yesterday:
  • I received a letter in the mail (to my US address, obviously) from the "Die Landesregierung Nordrhein-Westfalen" (government of North Rhine-Westphalia).
  • The letter was entirely in German.
  • I do not speak or read German.
  • I think I owe €10 as a fine. This is based on a grainy traffic camera picture of me behind the wheel, with "€10" next to it.
  • It appears I can pay my fine in two ways: 1) via a bank transfer from an EU bank (I think that's what the IBAN refers to), or 2) by going in person to the traffic police somewhere in Nordrhein-Westfalen (the letter helpfully included a map).
  • It does not appear that I can pay my fine 3) online, or 4) via credit card.
  • I tried calling the number, and I got someone yelling at me in German.
  • I went to the website of "Die Landesregierung Nordrhein-Westfalen" on the letter, and it very helpfully drew my attention to all the tourist attractions of the region, some of which I saw three months ago!
Not sure whether to laugh or cry or shrug at this point.
With such limited options to pay,
Mail them back a photo of a check for 10 Euros.

Mr. Rumples
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by Mr. Rumples » Wed Mar 11, 2020 5:35 am

You can't be the only person to whom this has happened and as stated above, someone in that office, most likely many people from my experience in Germany, speaks English, but they are very persnickety about rules. However, I'd try emailing the German Consulate in NYC or the American Embassy in Frankfurt (which now handles US citizen services for North Rhine/Westphalia).

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Stinky
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by Stinky » Wed Mar 11, 2020 6:13 am

dknightd wrote:
Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:57 pm
you could always stick a $20 in an envelope and mail it to the address they provided, along with the picture, and say you were sorry and hoped this covered it. Trust me, somebody in that office speaks English.
Winner.

Make it $30 if you’re feeling generous.
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midareff
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by midareff » Wed Mar 11, 2020 6:52 am

Take the simple approach.... stop at a money exchange, most mid to large cities have more than one and international airports have several, exchange enough US to get a 10 E note and mail it to them in a manner in which they will have to sign.

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happyisland
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by happyisland » Wed Mar 11, 2020 7:03 am

Stinky wrote:
Wed Mar 11, 2020 6:13 am
dknightd wrote:
Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:57 pm
you could always stick a $20 in an envelope and mail it to the address they provided, along with the picture, and say you were sorry and hoped this covered it. Trust me, somebody in that office speaks English.
Winner.

Make it $30 if you’re feeling generous.
Guys, I really doubt they accept foreign currency cash at the traffic ticket office in small town Germany. Imagine what a similar office in Upstate New York would do if they received Japanese yen in an envelope.

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Ramjet
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by Ramjet » Wed Mar 11, 2020 7:10 am

happyisland wrote:
Wed Mar 11, 2020 7:03 am
Stinky wrote:
Wed Mar 11, 2020 6:13 am
dknightd wrote:
Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:57 pm
you could always stick a $20 in an envelope and mail it to the address they provided, along with the picture, and say you were sorry and hoped this covered it. Trust me, somebody in that office speaks English.
Winner.

Make it $30 if you’re feeling generous.
Guys, I really doubt they accept foreign currency cash at the traffic ticket office in small town Germany. Imagine what a similar office in Upstate New York would do if they received Japanese yen in an envelope.
Good point. Also, there is a high chance that the person opening the envelope will just pocket the cash

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JoMoney
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by JoMoney » Wed Mar 11, 2020 7:58 am

grog wrote:
Tue Mar 10, 2020 1:15 pm
...
At least you didn't turn into a giant cockroach. (I'm assuming ...)
I would be disappointed if someone didn't, I cam here looking for the "Kafkaesque" part of the story.
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Random Poster
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by Random Poster » Wed Mar 11, 2020 8:27 am

Badger1754 wrote:
Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:25 pm
[*]I tried calling the number, and I got someone yelling at me in German.
This is probably the least surprising part of your entire ordeal.

Has anyone ever had any dealings with a German where, while they were speaking German, it didn't seem like they were yelling at you?

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happyisland
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by happyisland » Wed Mar 11, 2020 9:09 am

Random Poster wrote:
Wed Mar 11, 2020 8:27 am
Badger1754 wrote:
Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:25 pm
[*]I tried calling the number, and I got someone yelling at me in German.
This is probably the least surprising part of your entire ordeal.

Has anyone ever had any dealings with a German where, while they were speaking German, it didn't seem like they were yelling at you?
😂
And again, imagine the response you'd get if you called a traffic ticket office in New York and insisted on speaking German to them.

dbr
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by dbr » Thu Mar 12, 2020 10:33 am

JoMoney wrote:
Wed Mar 11, 2020 7:58 am
grog wrote:
Tue Mar 10, 2020 1:15 pm
...
At least you didn't turn into a giant cockroach. (I'm assuming ...)
I would be disappointed if someone didn't, I cam here looking for the "Kafkaesque" part of the story.
Maybe the OPs name is Joseph K.

I myself might imagine that getting a Euro note from the currency exchange and sending it in might work.

What does it actually cost to wire the money? My experience is that it can be expensive.

seawolf21
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by seawolf21 » Thu Mar 12, 2020 2:34 pm

dbr wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 10:33 am
JoMoney wrote:
Wed Mar 11, 2020 7:58 am
grog wrote:
Tue Mar 10, 2020 1:15 pm
...
At least you didn't turn into a giant cockroach. (I'm assuming ...)
I would be disappointed if someone didn't, I cam here looking for the "Kafkaesque" part of the story.
Maybe the OPs name is Joseph K.

I myself might imagine that getting a Euro note from the currency exchange and sending it in might work.

What does it actually cost to wire the money? My experience is that it can be expensive.
Transfer wise was referenced earlier in this thread. Transaction fees seem very good.

I agree there is nothing Kafkaesque about this. Germany issue a ticket summons in German expecting to pay in € is very reasonable.

I had a parking ticket in same jurisdiction a couple of years ago during a short stay. Took the ticket to a bank while I’m in Germany and bank clerk took the time to explain it in English, took my € and remit the ticket.

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wabbajack
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Re: Kafkaesque speeding ticket situation

Post by wabbajack » Fri Mar 13, 2020 11:08 am

I had mail from Northern Ireland requesting information about a traffic offense. There was no picture, just a form to fill out to document my information. It was a third-party (not any govt body) basically asking me to confirm that I was the driver at the time of the offense.

I ignored it. They sent another letter with stronger language that this *could* escalate. I ignored that too. This was over 2 months ago. Haven't heard anything since. Rental car company did not contact me or have any issue with my repeat business.

You'll most likely be fine ignoring it.

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