12.07.2018 | KPMG Law Insights

Driving bans – What can cities do?

Driving bans – What can cities do?

Do diesels have to stay outside? Large German cities are apparently faced with a choice between the health of their citizens and the economic factor of individual traffic. The Federal Administrative Court has now clarified that driving bans in German cities are possible in principle even without uniform federal rules. Where do we go from here?

Most recently, the city of Düsseldorf scored another success in its handling of the diesel affair before the Düsseldorf Administrative Court: it does not need to take diesel vehicles out of circulation if they have been retrofitted as required. Now the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig was dealing with another aspect of the diesel issue: driving bans in cities with particularly high levels of exhaust pollution. The Federal Administrative Court ruled that driving bans for diesel vehicles in German cities are possible – even without a uniform federal regulation.

In many cities, the question is how to proceed in the emissions dispute and what options they have:

Example driving bans

Following the ruling by the Federal Administrative Court, the federal states or – if they themselves are responsible for the clean air plan – the cities can no longer invoke the fact that driving bans in cities are legally impermissible.

Example diesel registration

The dispute over the registration of diesel vehicles has not yet been finally resolved. The proceedings in Düsseldorf will go to the next instance. And there are also lawsuits pending in nine other cities, on which the competent administrative courts have yet to rule.

Example enforcement measures

Once a judgment is in place, the issue of enforcement measures also becomes relevant. The Munich Administrative Court has already imposed a fine on the Free State of Bavaria for deficiencies in the clean air plan for Munich. How the courts will react in the event of a continued infringement remains to be seen.

Possible steps

So what can cities do?

Cities affected by limit value exceedances should consider drawing up or updating a clean air plan, if necessary in coordination with the responsible state authority. One thing is clear: cities can pursue the goal of air pollution control by various means: From strengthening bicycle traffic and public transport to making parking space more scarce, there are numerous options. This set of instruments must be exploited to the full. As a last resort alone, driving bans can no longer be ignored. The key here is to define the right conditions under which a driving ban should take effect and to make the driving ban proportionate, for example by phasing it in gradually and providing suitable exemptions.

In the dispute over vehicle registrations for diesel vehicles, cities can at least strengthen their position by pursuing the procedures under Section 5 of the Vehicle Registration Ordinance (“Restriction and prohibition of the operation of vehicles”) swiftly and conscientiously in the case of owners who refuse to be retrofitted. In the proceedings before the Düsseldorf Administrative Court, the plaintiff had argued, among other things, that the city of Düsseldorf was not pursuing these procedures with the necessary commitment and that retrofitting as a measure was therefore running on empty.

KPMG Clear Thinker
Driving bans: What will now change for cities
Contribution by Mathias Oberndörfer

Explore #more

08.12.2023 | PR Publications

Payout can be risky

In the current issue of Personalwirtschaft from 30.11.2023, there is a guest article by Stefan Middendorf and Gracjan Modrzyk. Some companies are once again…

07.12.2023 | PR Publications

Institutional Money – It’s all in the mix

Institutional Money 04/2023 discusses the opportunities offered by the Neighborhood Fund. The fund is ideal for real estate investors, as it is not limited to

01.12.2023 | PR Publications

WiWo: Best of Legal Awards – Philipp Glock Leader of the Year

On Thursday evening, WirtschaftsWoche honored outstanding projects and minds from consulting firms and law firms in Düsseldorf and celebrated the second Best of Professional Night…

29.11.2023 | KPMG Law Insights

Energy transition also opens up business opportunities

The energy industry’s complex, capital-intensive transformation process offers investors and banks a great deal of potential By Lars Christian Mahler and Marc Goldberg for Börsen-Zeitung,…

29.11.2023 | KPMG Law Insights

Guest article in ZURe – AI and the legal department of tomorrow

The current issue of ZURe (p. 48 ff.) contains a guest article by KPMG Partner Sina Steidel-Küster (Regional Director Southwest, Head of Stuttgart office) and…

29.11.2023 | KPMG Law Insights, KPMG Law Insights

Key Facts about the new draft of the “Data Act

On February 23, 2022, the EU Commission presented the new draft of the so-called Data Act, the “Regulation on harmonized rules for fair access to…

21.11.2023 |

Guest article in ZURe on the implementation of CSRD reporting in SMEs

The current issue of ZURe (p. 34 ff.) contains a guest article by Lena Plato (Director Legal & Compliance, FLABEG Automotive Group GmbH), KPMG Law…

20.11.2023 | Press releases

Statement by KPMG Law experts in Handelsblatt on the topic of sustainability cooperation in antitrust law

In the Handelsblatt, KPMG Law expert Jonas Brueckner is quoted in detail on the subject of cooperation in terms of sustainability. Until this summer, there…

15.11.2023 |

Legal 500 – Country Comparative Guide Germany

Gerrit Rixen and Jonas Brueckner provide an overview of the relevant legal regulations in the area of Competition & Litigation in a practical guide on…

14.11.2023 | Press releases

Tax and Law at a glance – New issue of the digital magazine “Talk

“Talk” stands for Tax and Law Compass, because that’s what the digital magazine wants to be: a navigation aid to the legal and tax aspects…

© 2023 KPMG Law Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH, associated with KPMG AG Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft, a public limited company under German law and a member of the global KPMG organisation of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Limited, a Private English Company Limited by Guarantee. All rights reserved. For more details on the structure of KPMG’s global organisation, please visit

 KPMG International does not provide services to clients. No member firm is authorised to bind or contract KPMG International or any other member firm to any third party, just as KPMG International is not authorised to bind or contract any other member firm.