It is illegal to drive a car

Legal question of the day:

People with face masks are no longer uncommon in public. But what about driving a car?


In some federal states, wearing a face mask has become mandatory in certain situations due to the coronavirus. But even without obligation, many people protect themselves and others with a mask. This is actually forbidden when driving a car, as the facial features must be recognizable. If you drive a masked car, you risk a fine. The punishment of such violations is currently to be carried out cautiously.

What does the law say

In § 23 of the Road Traffic Act (StVO) it is regulated that drivers of a motor vehicle may not cover or cover their face. The reason is quite simple. If you commit an administrative offense, the law enforcement officers must be able to identify the driver. The prohibition of masking is intended to prevent traffic offenders from evading their just punishment by making them unrecognizable. It is therefore inadmissible to take part in traffic, for example with a ski mask or with a full face mask at Mardi Gras. If you are caught, you face a fine of 60 euros. But what applies in times of Corona?

Traveling alone

If you adhere to the important hygiene rules, there is hardly any risk of infection in the car. After all, your car is not a public space that strangers visit. You do not need to wear a face mask when driving.

Taxi and driving services

The situation is different if you take other people with you. Think of taxi drivers or helpful people who support relatives or friends, for example by providing a driver service to the doctor. These people come into close contact with people outside the household without being able to maintain the necessary safety distance. On the contrary - they usually sit together in a very small space. Legally, the corona crisis does not nullify the regulation of § 23 StVO. In this exceptional situation, however, whether you are actually fined is at the discretion of the regulatory authority. After all, the purpose of the mask is not to make yourself unrecognizable by covering the face. At the moment, cautious use should be made of punishing such violations. Wearing a protective mask in a taxi may even be compulsory in certain districts.

The choice of mask

It is important to choose the right mask. If you have contact with unfamiliar passengers in the car, you should make sure that as much of your face as possible can be seen despite the mask. Your main facial features such as the cheek and chin area should be recognizable. Also, be careful not to mist up your glasses through the nasal mask. If your glasses are fogged up, this can quickly lead to an accident. Then there is a risk of joint liability in addition to a fine. How the front passenger's mask is made, on the other hand, does not matter. These should also mask themselves completely without fear of legal consequences.

Logbook threatens

If a masked driver is caught committing a traffic violation, he is often not easily recognizable on the speed camera photos. However, if the driver cannot be identified, the owner of the vehicle is threatened with an edition of the logbook. This can be imposed if the driver remains undetected despite official investigations and he has committed a not inconsiderable administrative offense. Examples of this are red light violations or significant speed violations. In order to have proof of the respective driver for possible future cases, the vehicle owner then has to document exactly for several months when and who drove the vehicle where. A violation of the logbook requirement will again be punished with a fine as a separate administrative offense.

Adapt your driving style

Take extra care to behave law-abiding in traffic. Without a specific breach of order, you can hope for understanding and leniency from the law enforcement officers.