For members


Everything you need to know about driving on the autobahn in Austria

Unlike Germany, Austria already has a speed limit on motorways, but that’s not the only rule that motorists should be aware of.

Everything you need to know about driving on the autobahn in Austria
The weekend will be a busy one in Austrian streets and roads. Photo by GUENTER SCHIFFMANN / AFP.

Austria might be neighbours with Germany but that doesn’t mean they share the same rules when it comes to driving on a motorway (autobahn).

In fact, there is a strict speed limit in Austria, as well as other rules regarding road tax and environmental factors.

Then there are debates surrounding the reduction of the current national speed limit in a bid to lower the consumption of Russian oil.

To make sure you’re up to date and following the rules, here’s what you need to know about driving on the autobahn in Austria.

FOR MEMBERS: UPDATED: How to save money on fuel costs in Austria

What is the speed limit on the autobahn in Austria?

In Austria, the national speed limit on the motorway for motorbikes and cars is 130 km/h (81 mph), unless stated otherwise. For vehicles with a light trailer, the national speed limit is 100 km/h.

There are varying speed limits for vehicles with larger trailers or those with a heavy weight and there is also a speed limit of 60 km/h for certain trucks when driving at night.

This means Austria does not have long stretches of motorway without speed limits like in neighbouring Germany.

There have been discussions in the past about raising the speed limit to 140 km/h on Austrian motorways, with particular interest from the Freedom Party Austria (FPÖ). 

So far though, there are no indications that the speed limit will be raised and, if anything, there are calls to go in the opposite direction (see below for more).

READ ALSO: What you need to know about parking in Austria

Is there a tax for using the autobahn?

Austrian motorways operate on a vignette system which is a prepaid road tax issued as either a physical sticker for the windscreen or digitally.

Vignettes can be purchased at outlets across the country, such as petrol stations, service stations and some tourist information offices.

A vignette can be purchased for 10 days, two months or on an annual basis. For drivers that regularly use motorways in Austria, the annual ticket is the most economical option at €93.80 for a car or €37.20 for a motorbike (2022 prices).

Prices for the vignette are set by the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology. The Motorway and Expressway Finance Company (ASFINAG) is responsible for issuing vignettes.

Compliance with the vignette is monitored through the use of control cameras on Austrian motorways. For cars or camper vans with no or an expired vignette, the fine is €120. For motorbikes the fine is €65.

If anyone is caught with a tampered toll sticker, the fine is €240 for a car or campervan and €130 for a motorbike.

EXPLAINED: What you need to know about Austria’s vignette motorway toll stickers

The political climate and the impact on driving

Greenpeace Austria and other climate groups often call for the national speed limit on the Autobahn to be reduced to 100 km/h to save on fuel and emissions, as reported by the Kronen Zeitung.

The announcement follows EU sanctions on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine and debates within western governments on how to wean themselves off a dependency on Russia oil and gas.

According to Greenpeace, lowering the speed limit would reduce our usage of petrol and diesel as driving at a lower speed uses less fuel. This would then help towards reducing the amount of oil Austria needs to source from Russia.

READ MORE: Austria’s nationwide public transport ‘climate ticket’ now available

Clara Schenk from Greenpeace Austria told Ö1 Morgenjournal that lowering the speed limit would have a “measurable impact” on Austria’s fuel consumption.

This was echoed by Johannes Wahlmüller from GLOBAL 2000 who said: “In principle, reducing the speed is a very simple and inexpensive measure to both save CO2 emissions and reduce fuel consumption. 

“If you drive at 100 km/h on the autobahn, you use around ten percent less fuel than at 130 km/h.” 

The principle arguments in favour of reducing the speed limit are that it is easy to implement, can save motorists money and can lead to quick results.

In fact, a 100 km/h speed limit is already in place on some roads when the air quality requires it, such as on the A1 Westautobahn between Linz and Vienna and on the A12 in Tyrol.

But on a national level, such a move could be politically hard to impose and there are calls to lower tax on fuel instead to combat rising prices. Motorist clubs ARBÖ and ÖAMTC support this approach, as well as the Chamber of Labour, the Chamber of Commerce, the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) and the Freedom Party Austria (FPÖ).

What is the situation elsewhere in Europe?

Germany is known around the world as a country with relaxed motorway rules when it comes to speed, but discussions surrounding a national speed limit have picked up pace in recent years.

In a 2021 survey by public broadcaster ARD, 60 percent of Germans believed there should be a speed limit of 130 km/h on German motorways. Only 38 percent said there should be no speed limit.

The main reason for this was environmental with many people saying they would be willing to lower their driving speed on motorways to reduce emissions.

In the past week, both Greenpeace Germany and Environmental Action Germany have again raised the issue of introducing a speed limit on motorways, but this time to reduce the consumption of Russian oil, as well as emissions.

They claim that a reduction in speed could save 3.7 billion litres of petrol and diesel, as well as 9.2 million tonnes of CO2.

Useful vocabulary

Autobahn – motorway

Vignette – road toll/tax

Tankstelle – petrol station

Tempolimit – speed limit

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For members


The six ways you can lose your driving licence in Austria

From drink-driving to dangerous tailgating, these are the offences that can lose you your license in Austria.

The six ways you can lose your driving licence in Austria


Most Austrian motorways have a speed limit of 130 km/h, though, on some open roads, a lower limit of 100 km/h applies. The speed limit for built-up areas (such as main roads in towns and cities) is generally 50 km/h.

In order to get your license revoked for speeding, you need to be driving at a dangerously high speed and the higher the velocity, the longer you’ll lose your license for:

  • Exceeding the speed limit by 40 km/h in a built-up area or by 50 km/h on a highway comes with a driving ban of two weeks
  • Driving 60 km/h over the speed limit in a built-up area or 70 km/h on a highway can result in a 6-week driving ban
  • Exceeding the speed limit by 80 km/h in a built-up area or by 90 km/h on an open road will result in a ban of at least three months
  • Driving 90 km/h over the speed limit in a built-up area or 100 km/h on a highway can result in a ban of at least six months

Exceeding the speed limit in front of schools, kindergartens or cyclist crossings by more than 20km/h can also get you a six-month ban.

Driving under the influence

In Austria, having an alcohol level of more than 0.5 (50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood) counts as drink-driving -the same as in neighbouring countries Germany and Italy. 

Drinkers toast with beer glasses. Photo: ELEVATE/Pexels

To lose your license through drink-driving, you need to be caught with an alcohol level of at least 0.8 – which will land you a ban of at least one month.

An alcohol level of 1.2 carries a ban of at least four months while driving with a blood-alcohol level of at least 1.6 or refusing to take a breathalyser test can result in a driving ban of at least six months, as a refusal to be tested is always considered as heavy drinking.

Getting behind the wheel while high on drugs will also land you with at least a one-month ban.

Dangerous and irresponsible driving

As well as speeding and drinking under the influence, there are several other reckless driving behaviours that can get you banned.

Aggressive tailgating – or failing to keep a distance of at least 0.2 seconds (e.g. less than 7 metres at 130 km/h) can lead to a driving suspension of at least six months.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Do I need an international permit to drive in Austria?

Failing to stop immediately or to provide the necessary assistance after a road traffic accident can result in a three-month ban.

Ignoring overtaking bans or overtaking in poor visibility, as well as participating in unauthorised road races all come with six-month bans.

Losing your driving license abroad

If your driving license is confiscated while travelling abroad, the ban generally only applies in the country in question. However, if the Austrian authorities subsequently find out about the ban, and if the offence committed abroad also comes with a license suspension in Austria, the authorities will take away your license in Austria, too. 

Criminal Offences

You don’t need to commit an offence behind the wheel to have your license suspended, sometimes any serious offence will be enough.

A gavel is banged in a courtoom. Photo: EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA/ Pexels

If you, for instance, commit a serious bodily assault, get convicted of serious drug crimes, or even robbery, this can be grounds for suspending your driving license. 

Repeat offenders

When any of the above offences are repeated, they can come with longer driving bans the second time around or even a permanent driving suspension.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What are the rules on winter and summer tyres in Austria?

For drink-driving, offences are considered to be repeat offences when committed within a five-year time period following the initial offence. Speeding and other dangerous driving offences, meanwhile, will carry more weight if repeated within a four-year period.

You can find a list of repeat offences that can get you banned under offences named Wiederholungsfall (repeated case) here.

How do I get my driving license back?

Once the time period of the driving suspension has passed, you can make an application to have your license reinstated. You can find the relevant form here

Depending on the offence that resulted in the ban, you may also be required to complete follow-up training, traffic-psychology coaching or get a medical report on your fitness to drive.

If the driving licence has been revoked for more than 18 months, then you have to take the driving test again.