Understanding Motorcycle Helmet Laws by State (2022)

Types of Motorcycle Helmet Laws

U.S. states fall into one of three categories when it comes to motorcycle helmet laws:

  • States that require helmets for riders and passengers of all ages
  • States that require helmets for certain types of riders and passengers (such as people under 18), but make them optional for adult motorcyclists
  • States where helmets are optional for all riders and passengers

Most states fall into one of the first two categories. Nineteen states and Washington, D.C. have universal helmet laws, while 28 make helmets optional for certain riders. Just three states—Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire—have no helmet laws for anyone.

Legal Consequences for Riding Without a Helmet

The consequence of riding without a helmet that should scare you the most is the possibility of an accident in which there’s nothing between your head and the pavement. That aside, you also might be in for some legal consequences for riding without a helmet.

Understanding Motorcycle Helmet Laws by State (1)

If you’re pulled over for riding without a helmet in a state where it’s required, you may get off with a warning, but you also may get a ticket and a fine. It’s largely up to the discretion of the officer pulling you over. Your motorcycle license also might pick up some points, be suspended or be revoked. In rare cases or instances where other laws have been broken, probation or jail time might be involved.

Finally, know that if you survive an accident and aren’t wearing a helmet, your lack of a helmet could affect your chances in a lawsuit in some states. In states that use doctrines of “comparative fault,” your award in a personal injury lawsuit can be substantially reduced if the court rules that your injuries are partially due to your own choices—such as neglecting to wear a helmet.

What Kind of Motorcycle Helmet Counts?

In most states, any DOT-approved motorcycle helmet is enough to satisfy a helmet law.

It’s fairly easy for a helmet to get DOT approval, so you should be able to find a DOT-approved helmet in just about any style you’re looking for. However, DOT testing isn’t as rigorous as some other standards like the Snell Foundation standard and the European ECE standard, so it can be a good idea to seek out a helmet certified under these plans.

Many states’ laws require helmets to be approved by state authorities. In practice, this usually means a DOT-approved helmet. The only kind of helmet that generally doesn’t satisfy a helmet law is a non-DOT-approved helmet–also known as a novelty helmet–which typically doesn’t give the rider any useful protection in a crash.

Motorcycle Helmet Laws by State

Understanding Motorcycle Helmet Laws by State (2)

Without further ado, here’s a brief overview of the motorcycle helmet laws in every U.S. state. Note that many of these laws have exceptions for enclosed-cab motorcycles and mopeds, as well as for special events like parades—but when in doubt, contact your state’s DMV.

Alabama Motorcycle Helmet Laws

All operators and passengers of any age in Alabama must wear motorcycle helmets.

Alaska Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Alaska law requires a motorcycle’s operator to wear a helmet only if they’re under 18, but helmets are optional for adult operators. Passengers of any age and operators with a motorcycle learner’s permit must wear helmets.

Arizona Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Motorcycle operators and passengers under 18 must wear helmets in Arizona. Regardless of age, all riders have to wear eye protection such as goggles or riding glasses.

Arkansas Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Helmets are required in Arkansas for all operators and passengers under 21, but optional for those over 21. All operators and passengers must wear eye protection.

California Motorcycle Helmet Laws

In California, all riders and passengers on a motorcycle, no matter their age, must wear helmets.

Colorado Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Colorado requires motorcycle helmets only for operators and passengers under 18. Adults aren’t required to wear helmets, although they are required to wear eye protection.

Connecticut Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Connecticut just passed a law raising its threshold age for motorcycle helmets. Effective October 1, 2019, Connecticut motorcycle operators and passengers under 21 must wear helmets or face a fine of up to $90, but it’s still a helmet-optional state for riders and passengers over 21.

(Video) US Motorcycle Helmet Laws for All 50 States

Delaware Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Delaware is a bit of an oddball when it comes to helmet laws. Operators and passengers under 19 (meaning 18-year-olds as well) must wear helmets, but they’re optional for riders over 19. Delaware also requires that anyone riding without a helmet have a helmet and eye protection in their possession while on the bike—though a helmet certainly won’t do you any good if it’s in your saddlebags when you crash.

District of Columbia Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Washington, D.C. requires all operators and passengers to wear helmets, regardless of age.

Florida Motorcycle Helmet Laws

In general, Florida requires operators and passengers of all ages to wear helmets. However, operators over 21 who carry at least $10,000 in health insurance can legally ride without a helmet.

Understanding Motorcycle Helmet Laws by State (3)

Georgia Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Georgia requires both operators and passengers of any age to wear both helmets and eye protection at all times.

Hawaii Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Hawaii requires helmets for both operators and passengers under 18, but it’s a helmet-optional state for adults.

Idaho Helmet Laws

Idaho requires helmets for both operators and passengers under 18. However, Idaho’s helmet laws don’t apply to powersports vehicles ridden on private property, or when used for farming and husbandry.

Illinois Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Illinois is one of the few states that has no motorcycle helmet laws at all. Any rider of any age can legally ride without a helmet. However, riders and passengers are still required to wear eye protection or use a windscreen.

Indiana Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Indiana requires operators and passengers under 18 to wear helmets and eye protection, but it’s helmet-optional for adults.

Iowa Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Illinois’ Midwestern neighbor, Iowa, also has no motorcycle helmet laws for riders of any age.

Kansas Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Kansas motorcycle operators and passengers are required to wear helmets if they’re under 18, but adults can choose not to wear a helmet.

Kentucky Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Kentucky requires motorcycle helmets for operators and passengers (including sidecar passengers) under 21, as well as for riders of any age who have a learner’s permit or have had their motorcycle license for less than a year. For riders who don’t fall into these categories, helmets are optional.

Louisiana Motorcycle Helmet Laws

(Video) Motorcycle Helmet Laws in all 50 States

Louisiana requires all motorcycle operators and passengers to wear helmets, regardless of age, and state law also requires protective eyewear.

Maine Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Maine requires helmets for operators and passengers under 18, as well as riders with learner’s permits or who have had their licenses for less than a year. Maine’s laws also require a helmet for anyone riding as a passenger with an operator who is required to wear a helmet.

Maryland Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Maryland motorcyclists, whether operators or passengers, are required to wear helmets–regardless of age.

Massachusetts Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Another universal helmet state, Massachusetts requires operators and passengers of all ages (including sidecar passengers) to wear helmets and eye protection.

Understanding Motorcycle Helmet Laws by State (4)

Michigan Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Motorcycle helmets are mandatory in Michigan for operators and passengers under 21. Riders over 21 can opt out of wearing helmets if they and the other person on the bike both have at least $20,000 in health insurance, and if the bike’s operator has had their license for at least two years or has taken and passed an approved motorcycle safety course.

Minnesota Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Minnesota requires helmets for operators and passengers under 18, as well as for riders still on their learner’s permit. For adults, helmets are optional.

Mississippi Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Mississippi law requires motorcycle helmets for all operators and passengers, regardless of age.

Missouri Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Missouri is another universal helmet law state, with operators and passengers of all ages required to wear motorcycle helmets.

Montana Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Montana requires both riders and passengers to wear helmets if they’re under 18. It’s a helmet-optional state for adults.

Nebraska Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Nebraska law requires motorcycle helmets for all operators and passengers, regardless of age.

Nevada Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Nevada’s universal helmet law requires motorcycle operators and passengers of all ages to wear helmets.

New Hampshire Motorcycle Helmet Laws

New Hampshire does not require motorcycle helmets for operators or passengers of any age.

(Video) What Are the Helmet Laws in Surrounding States?

New Jersey Motorcycle Helmet Laws

New Jersey is another universal helmet state, with operators and passengers of all ages required to wear helmets.

New Mexico Motorcycle Helmet Laws

New Mexico requires helmets for operators and passengers under 18, but its helmet-optional for adults.

Understanding Motorcycle Helmet Laws by State (5)

New York Motorcycle Helmet Laws

New York requires helmets and eye protection for operators and passengers, regardless of age.

North Carolina Motorcycle Helmet Laws

North Carolina requires motorcycle helmets for both operators and passengers of any age.

North Dakota Motorcycle Helmet Laws

North Dakota requires helmets for passengers and operators under 18, as well as passengers of any age riding with operators under 18. Helmets are optional for other adults.

Ohio Motorcycle Helmet Laws

All operators and passengers under 18, and anyone with a novice license (similar to a learner’s permit) or a passenger riding with a novice, must wear helmets in Ohio. Adults can choose not to wear helmets, although riders of all ages have to wear safety eyewear.

Oklahoma Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Oklahoma requires operators and passengers under 18 to wear helmets, but it’s a helmet-optional state for adults.

Oregon Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Oregon is a universal helmet state, with helmets required for both operators and passengers, regardless of age.

Pennsylvania Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Pennsylvania requires helmets for motorcycle operators and passengers under 21 and all riders with a learner’s permit. Riders over 21 can forgo helmets if they complete a safety course and have had their motorcycle license for at least two years.

Rhode Island Motorcycle Helmet Laws

In Rhode Island, motorcycle operators under 21 and passengers of all ages must wear helmets, as well as all motorcyclists who have had their license for a year or less. Other licensed riders over 21 can choose to ride without, but all riders must wear eye protection.

South Carolina Motorcycle Helmet Laws

South Carolina law mandates helmets for operators and passengers under 21, but it’s a helmet-optional state for those 21 and over.

Understanding Motorcycle Helmet Laws by State (6)

(Video) Motorcycle Helmet Laws

South Dakota Motorcycle Helmet Laws

South Dakota requires a motorcycle helmet and eye protection for operators and passengers under 18. Adults can choose to ride without a helmet, but must still have eye protection.

Tennessee Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Tennessee law requires helmets for both operators and passengers of all ages.

Texas Motorcycle Helmet Laws

In Texas, motorcycle operators and passengers under 21 must wear a helmet. However, motorcyclists over 21 can opt out if they carry medical insurance and have passed a safety course. A police officer can’t pull a motorcyclist over for the sole purpose of checking to see if they fulfill the requirements.

Utah Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Utah requires helmets for motorcycle operators and passengers under 21, but adults may choose not to wear helmets.

Vermont Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Like other universal helmet law states, Vermont requires helmets for both operators and passengers of any age.

Virginia Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Virginia requires all motorcycle operators and passengers, regardless of age, to wear helmets.

Washington Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Washington state is another that requires helmets for all operators and passengers, regardless of age.

West Virginia Motorcycle Helmet Laws

West Virginia’s laws also require helmets for every motorcycle operator or passenger of any age.

Understanding Motorcycle Helmet Laws by State (7)

Wisconsin Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Wisconsin requires all operators and passengers under 18 to wear helmets, as well as motorcyclists with a learner’s permit.

Wyoming Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Only operators and passengers under 18 are required to wear helmets in Wyoming, but all riders are required to wear eye protection.

There’s one more upside to wearing a helmet, in addition to possibly saving your life and obeying the law: Without a helmet, you can’t use an awesome wireless motorcycle communication device like the powerful Cardo Packtalk Bold or the efficient Cardo Freecom 1+. With one of these sleek and powerful devices strapped to your helmet, you can talk to other riders in your group, answer phone calls or stream your favorite music to Bluetooth helmet speakers, all hands-free. It’ll give you a whole new perspective on why helmets are so awesome.

For information about how our Cardo Systems wireless motorcycle headset devices can work with your helmet, check out our Cardo Systems Support page with answers to common questions or reach out to our friendly support staff through Facebook, Twitter or email.

FAQs

Do you have to wear a motorcycle helmet in Alabama? ›

Alabama law requires anyone who operates or rides on a motorcycle to wear protective headgear specifically designed for motorcycle riders and passengers. The law requires the helmet to have a hard exterior shell of nonshatterable material that resists impact and penetration.

Is North Carolina a mandatory helmet State? ›

Under North Carolina law, all operators and passengers on motorcycles and mopeds must wear a motorcycle safety helmet of a type that complies with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218.

Are you required to wear a motorcycle helmet in Tennessee? ›

WHAT ARE THE TENNESSEE MOTORCYCLE HELMET LAWS? Both riders and passengers are required to wear a motorcycle helmet when riding. Some exceptions include bikers 21 and older who are operating a motorcycle during a funeral procession, parade, or memorial ride.

Do you have to wear a helmet on a motorcycle in Minnesota? ›

While most Minnesota motorcyclists are not required to wear a helmet, the following bikers must wear a DOT-approved helmet at all times: Individuals under the age of 18.

How much is a no helmet ticket in Alabama? ›

Traffic Ticket Costs
TRAFFIC VIOLATION
No helmet – motorcycle rider$169
Operating a motor vehicle without a driver's license$234
Running a red light$179
Running a stop sign$179
22 more rows

Which US states do not require motorcycle helmets? ›

There are only three states that do not have motorcycle helmet laws: Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire. Nineteen states require that all riders wear a helmet. Eighteen states require riders 17 and younger to wear helmets, and nine states require riders 20 and younger to wear helmets.

How much is a no helmet ticket in North Carolina? ›

NC requires helmets for motorcycle riders

This helmet must also comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. If anyone is found to violate this law, they will be subject to discipline in the form of a penalty of $ 25.00 and other costs associated with the violation.

What happens if you get pulled over without a motorcycle license in NC? ›

If you get pulled over while riding a motorcycle without a license or permit, the police officer has the capability of giving you a large fine because it is classified as a misdemeanor. A fine like this can range between $100 – $1,000, depending on the policeman and the reason you were pulled over in the first place.

Are half helmets legal in NC? ›

Universal helmet laws require that all riders, no matter their age, wear a helmet while on a motorcycle. This includes passengers. Partial helmet laws require helmet use only by certain groups, usually young riders and/or novice motorcyclists. North Carolina is one of 19 states that have universal helmet laws.

Did TN pass no helmet law? ›

Yes. According to Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-9-302, all drivers and passengers on a motorcycle in Tennessee are required to wear a crash helmet.

Can motorcycles ride on the shoulder in Tennessee? ›

(3) A motorcycle or motor-driven cycle may be operated on the shoulder or right-of-way pursuant to this subsection (e) at a rate not to exceed forty-five miles per hour (45 mph). SECTION 2.

Can motorcycles run red lights in Tennessee? ›

Beginning July 1 Tennessee motorcyclists can legally run some red lights. Beginning July 1, Tennessee motorcyclists can legally run red lights - if they stop first and "exercise due care" - under a bill signed into law by Gov.

Is Florida a helmet state? ›

Florida law stipulates that all riders under the age of 21 must wear a helmet while operating or riding a motorcycle. The law also states that all riders of any age must be equipped with proper eye protection when traveling on public roads.

Is there a helmet law in Georgia? ›

In Georgia, ALL motorcyclists must wear a helmet when riding or operating a motorcycle. According to the Commissioner of Public Safety, motorcycle helmets must meet Department of Transportation helmet standards as detailed in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218.

Are helmets required in South Carolina? ›

In South Carolina only people under the age of 21 are required to wear helmets; however, research shows that helmets help prevent injury and many people voluntarily wear them while on their motorcycles.

How many miles can you go over the speed limit in Alabama? ›

Answer provided by. Reckless driving in Alabama is up to the discretion of the police officer who pulls you over. While the law doesn't dictate a specific speed to be considered reckless driving in Alabama, the speed that's most likely to result in a reckless driving charge is 26 mph or more over the speed limit.

What is a Super Speeder in Alabama? ›

Super Speeder is a classification that allows for an additional $200 fine on top of any other fines for someone convicted of driving 85 miles per hour or more on any road or highway, or 75 miles per hour or more on any two-lane road or highway.

Is it illegal to not wear a helmet on a motorcycle? ›

By law you must wear a safety helmet when riding a motorcycle or quad bike on the road.

How many US states have motorcycle helmet laws? ›

Motorcycle helmet laws by state

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have universal motorcycle helmets laws requiring helmets for all riders regardless of age. The same laws often apply to other two-wheeled vehicles, as well, such as mopeds and scooters.

What do you legally have to wear on a motorbike? ›

Motorcycle helmets and protective clothing

Wearing a safety helmet is a legal requirement for moped and motorcycle riders – this includes passengers on a pillion seat, but not those in a sidecar.

Does Hawaii have a helmet law? ›

Hawaii Motorcycle Helmet and Safety Laws

Motorcyclists under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet secured with a chin strap when riding or driving a motorcycle. According to the State of Hawaii Motorcycle Operator Manual, riders under the age of 18 must wear a helmet approved by the Department of Transportation.

Do you have to wear a helmet in an autocycle in NC? ›

This year, the legislature revised the helmet requirement for motorcycles and mopeds, codified in G.S. 20-140.4(a)(2), to provide that drivers and passengers in an autocycles equipped with a roll bar or roll cage also are exempted from wearing a safety helmet. That amendment was effective October 1, 2019.

Do motorcycle helmets need DOT sticker? ›

Helmets that meet FMVSS 218 must have a sticker on the outside back of the helmet with the letters “DOT,” which certifies that the helmet meets or exceeds FMVSS 218. It is important to note that some novelty helmet sellers provide DOT stickers separately for motorcyclists to place on non-complying helmets.

Do you have to wear a helmet in a slingshot in NC? ›

State law exempts autocycles from the driver's license motorcycle endorsement requirement imposed on other motorcycles. However, you and your passenger would have to wear a helmet unless you purchase the version of the Slingshot that comes equipped with a roof. Most models of the Slingshot have open-air cockpits.

Can I ride a motorcycle with a car license? ›

In short, no there isn't. If you just own a full driving licence, you can't ride any sort of motorcycle on the roads without taking the relevant tests and having further entitlements.

Can I drive a car I just bought home without plates in North Carolina? ›

In North Carolina, you can drive a car you just bought without plates or registration for a period of 3 days before you are required to register it at the DMV. Once registered, you get temporary tags that are valid for a period of 10 days. The cost for temporary tags in North Carolina is $10.

How many times can you get a motorcycle permit in NC? ›

Motorcycle learner permits are issued for 12 months and can only be renewed once for a period of six months.

Is there a helmet law in Virginia? ›

In Virginia, motorcyclists and their passengers must wear an approved motorcycle helmet that meets or exceeds the standards and specifications of the Snell Memorial Foundation, the American National Standards Institute, Inc., or the federal Department of Transportation.

Is Arkansas a helmet State? ›

Motorcycle Helmet Law in Arkansas

However, not all states have universal helmet laws. Arkansas is one of them. In 1997, the state's mandatory motorcycle helmet law was repealed . Instead, legislators enacted a law that only required motorcyclists and passengers under the age of 21 to wear a helmet.

Is Missouri a helmet State? ›

Under the revised helmet law, only riders and passengers 25 years old and younger must wear a helmet. Riders and passengers 26 years and older do not need to wear a helmet if they have health insurance. Here is a quick guide to Missouri's helmet law and the reasons you should wear a helmet, regardless of your age.

Does Tennessee require a motorcycle license? ›

Any operator of a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle 15 years of age requires a special permit allowing the fifteen year old to operate a motorcycle with certain restrictions after completing the requirement established for a motorcycle license.

What is it called when motorcycles drive between cars? ›

Lane splitting occurs when a motorcyclist passes one or more vehicles in the area between two lanes, often the area of the road where the road line is painted. It is also known as white lining to seasoned motorcyclists. Typically, motorcyclists will use lane splitting to avoid stopping in heavy traffic.

What is the most common motorcycle accident? ›

The most common motorcycle accident happens when a car makes a left-hand turn in front of you. This is the single most dangerous situation for motorcyclists, accounting for 42% of all accidents involving a motorcycle and car.

Is lane splitting legal in Nashville? ›

In the state of Tennessee, lane splitting is illegal. The law says that: Motorcyclists are not allowed to overtake/pass in a traffic lane occupied by another motor vehicle. Motorcyclists are not allowed to ride between lanes of traffic, adjacent lines, or rows of slowed or stopped vehicles.

Is Lane splitting on a motorcycle legal in Tennessee? ›

Despite research suggesting that lane splitting can improve traffic congestion and that splitting lanes may actually be safer for motorcycle riders than sitting between vehicles in stop-and-go traffic, the practice of lane splitting remains illegal under Tennessee law.

Do you have to lean to turn a motorcycle? ›

Wrestling with the bike through a turn without leaning and trying to keep it upright will only impact your ability to safely making the turn. The motorcycle wants to lean into its turn so it can use forward momentum to help you read the road in front of you.

How do you trigger a stop light on a motorcycle? ›

How to trigger Traffic Lights on a Motorcycle | Stop getting stuck at ...

Is lane splitting legal in Florida? ›

Because lane splitting is illegal in Florida, we caution all motorcyclists against practicing this maneuver in this state. Even if you think this will increase your safety, there are various reasons why this is not the case.

Does FL require motorcycle insurance? ›

Florida Motorcycle Insurance Coverage Requirements

The State of Florida doesn't require motorcycle insurance. Riders have to register their bikes with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) but don't need to provide proof of insurance as part of that process.

Is it illegal to drive without a helmet in Florida? ›

Florida law requires all minors to wear helmets when operating or riding on motorcycles. Also, young adults must wear properly-fastened compliant head protection for several years after reaching the age of majority.

Is it illegal to not wear a helmet on a motorcycle? ›

By law you must wear a safety helmet when riding a motorcycle or quad bike on the road.

Is lane splitting legal in Alabama? ›

Lane splitting involves passing a vehicle between two marked lanes of traffic. Another form of lane splitting might see a biker who rides around a slower vehicle ahead in the same lane. While lane sharing is allowed by law, that is, motorcycles riding side by side in the same lane, lane splitting is illegal in Alabama.

Is a motorcycle license required in Alabama? ›

A question that people frequently ask is, “Do you need a motorcycle license in Alabama?” The short answer is yes. Until recently, the state of Alabama did not require a special license in addition to a regular driver license) to operate a motorcycle. Now, however, you must obtain a Class M license.

What do you legally have to wear on a motorbike? ›

Motorcycle helmets and protective clothing

Wearing a safety helmet is a legal requirement for moped and motorcycle riders – this includes passengers on a pillion seat, but not those in a sidecar.

Videos

1. Motorcycle Helmet Laws and Settlements
(Doctor Tomason)
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(Broncoride)
3. Motorcycle helmet laws thoughts new riders
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4. Persuasive MOTORCYCLE HELMET LAWS
(NorthwestMS PSMaze)
5. Motorcycle Helmet Laws
(ABC7 Sarasota)
6. What is the Helmet Law Status in MO 2020? New Law's Wording if Passed
(Riding in the Ozarks)

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