Motorcycle riders have been made to wear helmets for a very long time. If you go back in time for a little bit, you see that originally all states were required to have some sort of a motorcycle helmet law in place.
Not implementing one would result in penalties to the state’s highway funds. This mandate, however, was removed by congress in the year 1976.
Moreover, this allowed all states to have the option to have their helmet laws repealed. Every state changed the requirements set in their laws. This is why you now must look into motorcycle helmet laws by state.
Universal & Age Specific Helmet Laws
Putting aside the three states that now have no motorcycle helmet law, there are two types of motorcycle helmet laws found in states.
These are the universal laws and the age-specific laws. Firstly, the universal laws are the ones that apply to all motorcycle riders, regardless of their age.
On the other hand, age-specific helmet laws are, as you have probably already guessed, set for people under a certain age.
You can see this type of motorcycle helmet law applied in most states. The reason for this is that a large population of people demands to have the right to be able to ride a motorcycle without having to use a helmet.
It is also important to note that there are some cases where the laws differentiate between the driver and the passenger.
However, in most cases, this is seen in the states which have implemented age-specific motorcycle laws. The penalties and legal consequences also differ depending on the type of laws that have been enforced.
This is why you must look into motorcycle helmet laws set by the state to know what to follow.
Main Things To Consider In A Helmet
Another thing that many state laws emphasize is the types of helmets you wear while riding a motorcycle.
It makes sense to have a system that ensures that you are wearing an adequate helmet. If there were no requirements, there would be no point in wearing a helmet in the first place.
The next thing to think about is whether you want to go for an open-face helmet or not. The most important thing you need to look for is if the helmet is DOT-Approved.
Having a DOT-Approved helmet should keep you set in most of the states. This will depend on the rules of your state as well.
Generally, they should not complain about your open-face helmet if you are wearing proper eye protection.
You could also simply use a full-faced helmet. This comes with a visor and adheres to all the requirements states have for motorcycle helmets.
It is not enough to wear a helmet; you have to ensure that it is a quality helmet that can save your life. Failure can get you fined and put you in grave danger.
Helmet Requirements Chart In The United States
With helmet laws varying from state to state, you have to fully understand your state’s rules before you can ride your motorcycle. If you do not, you risk getting fined.
Here is a detailed chart of all the main things you need to know about motorcycle helmet laws. You can look up your state and see the rules and the consequences.
|State:||Driver Age Requirements:||Passengers Age Requirements:||Exceptions:||Fines:|
|Alabama||All age||All ages||No exception||$100|
|Alaska||17 years old and below||17 years old and below||3 wheeled and steering-wheeled vehicles||Undefined|
|Arizona||17 years old and below||17 years old and below||3 wheeled and slower than 25 mph||Undefined|
|Arkansas||20 years old and below||20 years old and below||Slower than 20 mph||$10 – $50|
|California||All ages||All ages||No exception||$250|
|Colorado||17 years old and below||17 years old and below||Slower than 25 mph||$15 – $100|
|Connecticut||17 years old and below||17 years old and below||Undefined||$90|
|Delaware||17 years old and below||17 years old and below||Undefined||$25 – $115|
|Florida||20 years old and below||20 years old and below||If > $10000 in medical insurance||$15|
|Georgia||All ages||All ages||If > $10000 in medical insurance||$1000|
|Hawaii||17 years old and below||17 years old and below||No exceptions||$1000|
|Idaho||17 years old and below||17 years old and below||On private land or agricultural use||Undefined|
|Illinois||No requirements||No requirements||N/A||N/A|
|Indiana||17 years old and below||17 years old and below||N/A||N/A|
|Iowa||No requirements||No requirements||N/A||N/A|
|Kansas||17 years old and below||17 years old and below||No exceptions||$52|
|Kentucky||20 years old and below||20 years old and below||No exceptions||$20 – $100|
|Louisiana||All ages||All ages||No exceptions||$50|
|Maine||17 years old and below||17 years old and below||No exceptions||$100 to $500|
|Maryland||All ages||All ages||Undefined||$50 – $500|
|Massachusetts||All ages||All ages||State permitted parades||Undefined|
|Michigan||20 years old and below||20 years old and below||If > $10000 in medical insurance||$200|
|Minnesota||17 years old and below||17 years old and below||No exceptions||$200|
|Mississippi||All ages||All ages||No exceptions||$100|
|Missouri||25 years old and below||25 years old and below||Mopeds||$25 max|
|Montana||17 years old and below||17 years old and below||No exceptions||$5|
|Nebraska||All ages||All ages||No exceptions||$50 max|
|Nevada||All ages||All ages||Vehicles in parades or 3 wheelers with covered ceilings||Depends on the area|
|New Hampshire||17 years old and below||17 years old and below||Undefined||$43.20|
|New Jersey||All ages||All ages||No exceptions||$25 – $200|
|New Mexico||17 years old and below||17 years old and below||No exceptions||Undefined|
|New York||All ages||All ages||No exceptions||$100|
|North Carolina||All ages||All ages||No exceptions||$25.50|
|North Dakota||17 years old and below||17 years old and below||No exceptions||$20|
|Ohio||17 years old and below||17 years old and below||No exceptions||Up to $75|
|Oklahoma||17 years old and below||17 years old and below||No exceptions||Undefined|
|Oregon||All ages||All ages||No exceptions||$115|
|Pennsylvania||21 years old and below||21 years old and below||Undefined||$25|
|Rhode Island||21 years old and below||21 years old and below||Moto scooters, motorized bicycles, autocycles & certain mopeds||$85|
|South Carolina||20 years old and below||20 years old and below||No exceptions||$100|
|South Dakota||17 years old and below||17 years old and below||Undefined||$100|
|Tennessee||All ages||All ages||Enclosed vehicles, autocycles, and vehicles in parades||$50 max|
|Texas||20 years old and below||20 years old and below||No Exceptions||Undefined|
|Utah||20 years old and below||20 years old and below||No Exceptions||$70 max|
|Vermont||All ages||All ages||Autocycles and fully enclosed vehicles||$12.50 – $1,250|
|Virginia||All ages||All ages||Vehicles with 8-inch wheels or less, vehicles in parades, three-wheel vehicles||$250 max|
|Washington||All ages||All ages||No exceptions||$250|
|West Virginia||All ages||All ages||No exceptions||$100 – $500|
|Wisconsin||17 years old and below||17 years old and below||No exceptions||$200|
|Wyoming||17 years old and below||17 years old and below||No exceptions||Undefined|
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What States Is It Legal To Not Wear A Motorcycle Helmet?
Of all the 50 states I have talked about in this list, only two do not have any motorcycle requirements.
These 2 are; Iowa & Illinois. Apart from these 2, all states force you to wear a motorcycle helmet, at least up to a certain age.
Q2. Why Should Motorcyclist Wear Helmets?
This is a very simple question. Motorcyclists need to wear a helmet so that they can keep themselves protected in the event of an accident.
You can get into an accident despite all your years of experience, so having a helmet can mitigate any damage you may take to the head.
Q3. Why Don’t Some States Have Motorcycle Helmet Laws?
America is a free land, and even some states agree that motorcycle helmet laws can limit one’s freedom.
To avoid this, some states have opted not to have motorcycle laws. This helps people retain their freedom and allows them to have fun riding their motorcycles.
Q4. Are Motorcycle Helmet Laws Constitutional?
Since motorcycle laws restrict the freedom of choice for many motorcyclists, it is easy to say that they go against the constitution.
On the contrary, the United States Supreme Court has declared them to be in line with the constitution. This is because they believe it does not infringe on their constitutional liberties.
Q5. How Many Lives Do Motorcycle Helmets Save A Year?
While it is very hard to find statistics like this, through CDC reports, I can say that motorcycle helmet should save up to 2,000 lives a year in the United States alone.
This statistic relies mostly on reports, and many accidents go unreported; it is safe to say the actual amount is vastly greater.
Accidents can happen to even the most talented and experienced motorcycle riders. Your life is precious and should not be put at risk every time you go on a motorcycle ride.
It is exactly for this reason that the government has placed motorcycle helmet laws on a per-state basis. This article should help you understand the basics of helmet laws.
I have also gone over motorcycle helmet laws by state. There, I have elaborated on each state individually, which should help you go in-depth on a particular state and learn all about the nuances they have imposed.