Americans are still reacting to the news that a man got away with only a four-month jail sentence after shooting a bicyclist in the head in cold blood, in front of his three-year old child. In Germany, the web is buzzing about a sentence equally extreme, on the opposite end of the spectrum. Christopher-Felix Hahn, a student of theater science in Gießen, has learned he is banned from riding a bike, skateboard or any other "unlicensed vehicle" on the streets -- for fifteen years. Most cyclists in Germany know someone with a friend-of-a-friend who lost their driver's license because they were caught cycling drunk. Cyclists are vehicles subject to street laws just like everybody else, under the law. When conversation turns to the topic, the question of what happens if a cyclist has no driver's license soon follows. Now the Hahn case provides the answer.
Christopher-Felix Hahn says he did not feel unduly impaired when he made the decision to take his bicycle home from a party in June of 2008. On his way home in the wee hours of the morning, he attracted the attention of the local police. The police administered a breath test and found a blood-alcohol content of 0.171%, over three times the German legal limit of 0.05%.
Hahn was given a €500 ($700) penalty, which he paid. And he would have to live with the fact that there would be no chance to apply for a driver's license until his record cleared. He thought the affair was over and done with.
However, in Germany, all arrests with a blood alcohol content finding of over 0.16% must be reported to the drivers' licensing bureau. Hahn was surprised to receive a letter requiring that he submit to a medical and psychological examination. He ignored the letter. After all, he had no plans to seek a driver's license. And the €500 euro cost for the examination was a steep price for a student.
The lack of response did not go unnoticed. The letter was soon followed by a second missive, this time forbidding Hahn from using any license-free vehicle on the public streets. According to the Geißener Anzeige, the local newspaper, authorities indicated that such a ban cannot be lifted for at least fifteen years.
More on Drunken Cycling:
Gießener Anzeige (German)
Is Cycling Drunk as Bad as Drunk Driving?
TH Survey: Is Cycling Drunk as Bad as Driving Drunk?
More on Cycling Craziness:
Man Gets 120 Days for Shooting Cyclist in the Head
Road Raging Fox News Writer Arrested for Dragging a Cyclist Through Central Park
Taxi Driver Severs Cyclists' Leg in Violent Hit-and-Run
Modern Sport of Cyclist Harassment Now Against the Law in Missouri