Germany’s new winter tire law came about after a German court ruled in the case of a motorist who had protested a fine levied for not having snow tires on his car. In July 2010 the court determined that the current law was indeed too vague and that the term geeignete Bereifung (“appropriate set of tires”) failed to actually specify the use of winter tires. The man did not have to pay the fine.
The Law Regarding Snow Tires
In November 2010, responding to the court’s decision, the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, passed a new federal law that is much more specific about winter tires. It also doubles the fines for drivers caught without snow tires or who have an accident in winter conditions without snow tires on their vehicle.
Von O bis O
Most German motorists have long known the old rule of thumb for putting snow tires on the car: “von O bis O.” The term “from O to O” is short for “from October to Easter” (von Oktober bis Ostern). It is a recommendation that one should make the change from regular tires to snow tires in October, and leave them on until Easter.
The new German law does not set any time limits, but it does clearly state that under icy conditions (bei Glatteis, Schneeglätte, Schneematsch, Eis- und Reifglätte) you must not drive without snow tires on your vehicle. So, since it’s difficult to predict the weather, for all practical purposes, the old “von O bis O” rule still applies. (In Austria, winter tires are mandatory from November 1 to April 15.)
The new law also spells out what a “winter tire” is. Specifically, it is an M+S-Reifen, a mud-and-snow tire that has an official M+S (Matsch und Schnee) marking on it. (M+S tires do not have to be “winter” tires. All-year or all-weather M+S tires also qualify.) The German automobile club ADAC recommends going a step further and getting tires with the “three-peak-mountain” seal, an indication of snow tires that meet the highest standards.
ADAC also makes another recommendation that goes beyond the minimum requirements of the law. While the Straßenverkehrsordnung (StVO) requires a minimum snow tire tread depth (Profiltiefe) of 1.6 mm, ADAC ups that to 4.0 mm.
If the police catch you driving in winter conditions without M+S tires, you’ll have to pay a fine (Bußgeld) of 40 euros – plus a point against you in Flensburg.* If you are involved in an accident or you block traffic in icy conditions without M+S tires, the fine goes up to 80 euros and a point against you in Flensburg.
The Verkehrszentralregister des Kraftfahrt-Bundesamtes in Flensburg is a central register of all traffic violations in Germany. Various driving offenses are assigned a number of points and recorded in a databank in the northern German town of Flensburg. A driver with up to three points need not worry, but after accumulating four or more points, various sanctions take effect, ranging from remedial driving school to loss of your license to drive.
The snow tire law applies to all drivers, even if they do not own the vehicle! That means if you are renting a car in Germany in the winter, make sure it has M+S tires. The law also applies to motorbikes, trucks and buses. For more about renting a car in Germany see this page.
^ I agree but its interesting M+S marking is all that's legally required. Don't miss the 4mm tread minimum bit either...
Remember folks it your life/family we are talking about as Martin says if you heading for the mountainous regions proper compound snow/winter tyres are safety must and always have chains in the boot too imho.
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7th Nov 2017 9:01 am
DSL Keeper of the wheelie bin
Member Since: 11 May 2006
Going back to "should I bother with winter tyres" type question. I don't in the UK, even though I will be using the D4 (as I had the D3 for 11 years) in Heeland winters, some mild as mild, some downright evil. However winter Alpine conditions would, to me, be a different kettle of fish. A second set of rims isn't a lot, tyres you're going through anyway and then it's just the hassle of getting the wheels changed over. Plus reasonable demand on here for sets of winter tyres & rims if you decide to move to pastures new.
Just my thoughts.
11 D4 HSE - just Dee, no more Double Disco.
7th Nov 2017 9:10 am
Member Since: 27 Jun 2017
I've done the Alps before with a Mondeo on normal tyres. Had to put chains on to come down. But also knowing that the French are efficient at keeping them open I'll stick with my wranglers and take chains in the boot.
Would be interesting to see some test results comparing summer winter and all weather in all conditions.
Thank you all for clearing this all up folks.
Anyone got chains for the 19 inch rim?
7th Nov 2017 9:40 am
Member Since: 01 Oct 2017
Location: Loch Leven
The reason I mentioned it is I have "all season" tyres on my little car (Vred Quadtrac 3s) and they are mountain/snow flake marked.
I've been driving in the Alps for 20+ years with Discos and I have witnessed some spectacularly wintery conditions. I've never used special tyres or chains but I have passed plenty of cars whose drivers have given up. I'm sure special tyres would help but I've never needed them.Disco 4 SE Tech (2015) Corris Grey
Renault Clio 1.2 16v (2006)
BMW R100RS (1981)
Triumph TR6 (1973)
7th Nov 2017 10:12 pm
Member Since: 01 Oct 2017
Location: Loch Leven
Did Gazellio’s post not say it depends on the country your driving through and what you are allowed or recommend to have? better to be prepared I’d say, you just never know, might end up driving about lost in the Alps for 20 years or more
Look at this guys setup. in another post.
Don’t you just love the look of these wheels & tyres from Gekay
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