Do You Have To Wear A Motorcycle Helmet In California?

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Each state has its own set of rules, and it is your job as a state citizen to adhere to them.

If you are not following these rules, you will have to suffer the consequences of your actions and face the full extent of the law, which can lead to fines and even jail time in some cases.

Many motorcyclists living in California have the question, “do you have to wear a motorcycle helmet in California” according to the California Vehicle Code Section, all riders and passengers, regardless of their age, must wear a motorcycle helmet when riding a motorcycle. This applies to all motor-driven cycles, which includes mopeds as well.

You should be able to manage easily if you know these base laws, but if you want to go more in-depth, then you should continue reading this article, as I will be going over all the nitty-gritty when it comes to motorcycle helmet laws.

Motorcycle Helmet Laws And Rules In California

Learn what is the motorcycle helmet regulation for riding in California

The main takeaway is that all motorcyclists need to wear a helmet and should make a habit of wearing it from an early age as the age of the rider and the passenger does not matter when riding a motorcycle in California.

This is not limited to a motorcycle either, as mopeds and any other cycle that has a sort of motor on it fall under these rules.

Since you are required to wear a helmet at all times, California does not elaborate on the need for eye protection, but many officials and experts recommend some form of eye protection over nothing.

This can coincide with promoting full-faced helmets over half helmets as they come with a helmet visor that can cover your face. They also provide more protection than half helmets.

The NHTSA has set various safety regulations that your helmet needs to follow.

Many of these factors are similar to the ones found in DOT-approved helmets, so the state asks people to purchase DOT-approved helmets to be safe and get DOT labels affixed to their helmets.

Moreover, this can help law enforcement identify your helmet as being street legal and save you an encounter with the police.

There are a few exceptions that can allow you to not wear a helmet. The first one has a 3-wheeled motorcycle. The second and 3rd exceptions occur depending on the dimensions & weight of your bike.

Your bike must be over 900 pounds, over 7 feet long, or more than 4 feet wide. Any one of these 3 qualities will exempt you from the California motorcycle helmet laws.

Motorcycle Helmet Requirements In CA

The basic law set by the state of California mimics common sense in that your helmet must be properly fitted on your head. The state does not allow any sort of vertical or horizontal movement.

Along with this, the straps must be fastened throughout the journey, so always keep them fastened when riding your motorcycle.

The next requirements are the helmet itself. According to the NHTSA, the ideal motorcycle helmet should be at least 3 pounds and have around 1 inch of polystyrene foam lining.

The helmet should also include a chin strap attached to sturdy rivets with limited protrusions.

Once again, it is easier to have a DOT-approved helmet as they adhere to all these standards. Getting your helmet DOT labeled for easier viewing for the police is also recommended.

Penalties/Legal Consequences

Violating the helmet rules set by the state of California can have serious consequences, which is why I cannot stress enough that you should follow the rules and wear a DOT-approved helmet at all times.

If you are caught not wearing a helmet, the police reserve the right to stop and slap you with a ticket.

The fine for violating helmet laws can easily go up to $250. Aside from this, you can also be given a maximum probation time of up to one year.

California also adheres to the pure comparative negligence law, which can cost you a lot of money if you are not wearing a helmet.

The court can fault you for not wearing a helmet, and you can be liable for a certain percent of your injury. This means that you will only have access to a portion of the insurance claim you would have gotten otherwise.

Eye Protection In California When It Comes To Helmets

The state of California does not say much about eye protection, considering you are already required to wear a helmet.

But in the event that you are wearing a half helmet, it is recommended that you have some sort of eye protection. This can be in the form of goggles, glasses, and face shields.

These methods of protection must be free of scratches and resistant to any sort of puncture. They must allow a clear view of all sides while maintaining proper airflow to reduce fogging.

They must be capable of being secured properly so that they do not blow off in the wind and must allow enough room for sunglasses or prescription glasses if need be.

You should avoid tinted glasses as well, as they can affect your performance at night, making it difficult for you to see.

You can simply use the helmet visor of your full-face helmet to avoid taking care of all of these requirements, making it much more simple and easy for you to get ready to ride on your motorcycle.

Get In Touch With Experienced Motorcycle Attorneys In California

If you have ever been in a motorcycle accident, you will know how painful and terrifying it can be.

What you may not know is that you may be permitted some sort of financial reimbursement, which you can access if you look up the many law firms I have listed below.

1. Hanson & Mouri

The people at Hanson & Mouri will work day and night to get you a fair level of compensation if you are a victim of a motorcycle accident, making sure they help you navigate the complexities of motorcycle accident law.

Phone Number: +1 951-688-0006

2. Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys

The attorneys at Russ Brown pride themselves on the most informed choice for riders and motorcyclists that have been injured in California. They are dedicated experts in the field of motorcycle accident law.

Phone Number: +1 800-424-5377

3. Motorcycle Lawyer Pros

As the name suggests, this law firm is full of lawyers who are pros at all cases related to motorcycle accidents, coming with a success rate of 98%.

Not only have they handled thousands of motorcycle accident cases and have succeeded, but they also provide professional and honest advice to people who have been victims of motorcycle accidents.

Phone Number: +1 855-869-4777

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Is It Ok To Wear An Open Face Helmet In California?

The rules set by the state of California have not elaborated on open-face helmets, but seeing as how they only require you to wear a helmet at all times when riding your motorcycle, it can be inferred that you are allowed to wear open-face helmets. You will, however, have to take care of your setting up eye protection.

Q2. How Much Is The Fine For Not Wearing A Motorcycle Helmet In California?

The fine for not wearing helmets while riding the streets of California is quite high when you compare it to other states.

Depending on whether it is your first offense or not, you may be liable to a fine of up to $250. Despite this being so high, it is the lesser of two punishments as you can also be given a year of probation.

Q3. When Did Motorcycle Helmet Become Law In California?

On the first day of 1992, January 1st, the state of California gifted its citizens with motorcycle helmet laws, which made it compulsory for them to wear helmets when on a motorcycle.

These laws would see slight changes over the years and eventually, with enough additions and adjustments, became the law I discussed throughout the entirety of this article.

Q4. Should Passengers Wear A Helmet In California?

The state of California has also deemed that passengers that are riding on motorcycles must also wear a helmet, and this is necessary regardless of their age.

They too, must wear the DOT-approved helmets that are recommended by the state and must make a habit of wearing them whenever they go out for a ride unless they want to get pulled over.

Q5. Are Moped Driver Required To Wear A Helmet In California?

Moped drivers are also required to wear a helmet. This applies to both the driver of the moped as well as the passenger.

The only time moped drivers are not required to wear a helmet is when the moped they are driving has 3 wheels or follows the dimensions and weight as stated above in the article.

You may also be interested in my article: How To Get A Motorcycle License In California


By the end of this article, you should have the answer to “do you have to wear a motorcycle helmet in California.”

If you still are unaware of the answer, just know that you need to wear a helmet whenever you are riding a motorcycle in California.

This information should be enough to keep you out of trouble with the police most of the time.

Along with this, just have a DOT-approved helmet, and you should be free to ride the streets on your motorcycle without being pulled over by the police and without the threat of getting fined.

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