Survey: Majority: fare evasion should no longer be a criminal offence

More than two-thirds of Germans like the idea of ​​treating fare evasion no longer as a criminal offense but as an administrative offence.

Survey: Majority: fare evasion should no longer be a criminal offence

More than two-thirds of Germans like the idea of ​​treating fare evasion no longer as a criminal offense but as an administrative offence. This is shown by the results of a representative survey by Infratest dimap on behalf of the "Ask the State" platform, which the German Press Agency has received.

As a rule, anyone who is caught without a valid ticket has to pay a fine. The pollsters had first asked whether the participants in the survey think it is right that fare dodgers who do not pay the fine should face a prison sentence. The population is divided here: Half of those eligible to vote think that's right. 45 percent of Germans are against it. Around five percent of those surveyed had no opinion or did not provide any information. Supporters of the Greens and the Left Party in particular spoke out against the replacement prison sentence for fare dodgers. The majority of the supporters of all other parties represented in the Bundestag find the current legal situation correct on this issue.

Will there be a reform of the sanctions law?

However, the answers to the second question, whether fare evasion should be treated as an administrative offense with a fine in the same way as illegal parking in Germany, indicate that there is a great deal of openness to reform. According to the information, 69 percent of Germans would find such a change correct. Only a quarter of the population would be against it.

The Bundestag is currently deliberating on a reform of the sanctions law, which, among other things, provides for shorter alternative prison sentences. Next Monday there will be a hearing of experts in the Legal Affairs Committee. Those who do not pay a fine can alternatively serve the sum in prison. The number of days that those affected then have to spend behind bars corresponds to the daily rates to which they were sentenced. The draft by Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann (FDP) provides for the number of days in prison to be halved in the future.

Decriminalization not part of reform

The decriminalization of fare evasion proposed by politicians from the SPD, the Left and the Greens is not part of this planned reform. The first suggestions on how to deal with the so-called fraudulent promotion in the future should come soon.

"Driving without a ticket is not part of the sanctions law, but will be reviewed as part of the reform of the special part of the Criminal Code that I am also planning," says Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann. The FDP politician promises: "There will be a draft for this in the course of this year." He adds: "This is also known in the coalition." That may be a dig at right-wing traffic light politicians, who have repeatedly commented on fare evasion in debates on the reform of sanctions law. It is clear that there is a connection. Because driving without a valid ticket is one of the offenses that most often give rise to a replacement prison sentence.

Application from Berlin and Bremen

The state governments of Berlin and Bremen submitted an application for the decriminalization of driving without a ticket to the conference of justice ministers last June. There was no majority for that at the time.

Buschmann does not let his cards be looked at as to where he himself stands in this question. He has "own ideas about this, but we will only discuss that in the coalition," he says. And: "There is not only black or white, but a whole range of different models."

Eisenreich: Notorious fare evasion should remain a criminal offense

According to the Bavarian Minister of Justice Georg Eisenreich (CSU), fare evasion on buses and trains could also be punished as an administrative offense instead of a criminal offence. "It is important to me that people who are traveling without a ticket are not criminalized," said Eisenreich of the German Press Agency. He sees a need for action there. But "notorious fare dodgers should continue to be appropriately sanctioned with a criminal offence." This protects the transport companies and the vast majority of honest customers who bought tickets and ultimately had to pay for the fare dodgers.