Federal Court of Justice: Calculators are prohibited

If you are driving in traffic, you are not allowed to hold a smartphone in your hand at the same time. This is well known. It doesn’t matter whether you want to use it to make a phone call or, let’s just say: Calculate the broker’s commission. The Federal Court of Justice must now expressly state that no other electronic device may be used for this very purpose.


€ 150 fine for using a mobile phone

The cause of the legal disagreement was a complaint from a real estate agent with a fine. The man was shown too quickly on his way to an agent. In the watch photo, he was holding a small device. Not a mobile phone, he asserted, but: a pocket calculator. He wanted to estimate how much his next date would bring him in the event of a deal. The driver refused to accept the fine imposed by the Lippstadt District Court (Az. 7 Owi 181/18) for using cell phones while driving. After all, a pocket calculator is not a cell phone.

What does StVO say?

In fact, traffic law does not specifically prohibit the use of pocket calculators by vehicle drivers. However, in Paragraph 23, Paragraph 1a, there is talk of electronic devices used for communication, information or regulation. It wasn’t until the Federal Court of Justice ruling whether pocket calculators should also be included in this category. In the case of the mediator, the Appellate Authority answered the question in the affirmative (OLG Hamm, Az. 4 RBs 191/19). The device tells you the result of a math problem. In addition, regulations should in principle prohibit deviations from electronic devices.

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Judicial precedents differed

Not long ago, however, a higher regional court had decided differently on a very similar case: according to OLG Oldenburg (Az. 2Ss (OWi) 175/18), the said ruling does not include a pocket calculator. So it can also be used on the steering wheel. Because of these contrasting views, the case had to now be referred to the Federal Court of Justice. He decided: Pocket Calculators are also covered by Article 23 Paragraph 1a of the Road Traffic Act. So it should not be carried and operated by the driver while driving.


The BGH also came to the conclusion that pocket calculators should be considered electronic devices that provide information. Driving at the wheel is distracting and endangering road users. This applies to the computer in the mobile phone as well as on the standalone device.


Brooke Vargas

"Devoted gamer. Webaholic. Infuriatingly humble social media trailblazer. Lifelong internet expert."

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