Witnesses said people screamed in panic and some were thrown into the air by the car as it crashed through the shopping zone.
"We have arrested one person, one vehicle has been secured," police said, adding that a 51-year-old German suspect from the Trier area had been overpowered within minutes of the incident and was now being questioned.
Prosecutor Peter Fritzen later told a news conference the suspect had drunk a significant amount of alcohol, and authorities were not working on the assumption that there was any Islamist militant motive to the incident.
Trier Mayor Wolfram Leibe said: "It looks as if we are talking about a suspect with mental issues, but we should not pass premature judgement."
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