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Motorcycle Helmet Laws in the United States

Motorcycle Helmet Laws in the United States

Let's just start this off by saying that you should always be wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle. Yes, that includes riding up and down the block when you're showing off to the neighborhood.

In simple terms, wearing a helmet can save your life.

Motorcycle helmet laws are different in each state in the United States. Making it important to know which laws apply to you and where you'll be traveling on your riding adventures.

Just because you live in a state that does not require a motorcycle helmet (example: Iowa) you are not granted permission to ride without a helmet in a state where every rider is required to be wear a certified motorcycle helmet. Traveling outside of your home state means different laws could apply. Make sure to check out those laws before and be prepared. If not, you may end up with some hefty fines and getting your motorcycle impounded.

Always check before your trip as laws are subject to change overtime. 

The Types of Helmets Laws in the USA

  • States that require helmets for riders and passengers of all ages (Universal)
  • 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

As of October 18, 2022 there are only three states, Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire - which have no helmets laws.

What type of helmet safety certification is required?

In the United States a DOT approved motorcycle helmet is enough to be classified as an adequate level of safety. 

However, all safety certifications are not equal. DOT being the lowest safety certification is fairly easy to pass as the safety testing is not as rigorous as other certification standards like Snell or ECE. In our opinion it's always worth spending a little bit more to get a helmet with a Snell or ECE certification than a helmet that is only DOT certified.

U.S. State-by-State Helmet Laws

All helmets laws are subject to change, so remember to always check if you travel to any of these states.

State

Current Helmet Law

Alabama

Universal helmet law enacted 1967

Alaska

Helmet required for riders under 18 or with instructional permit; all passengers must wear helmet. Universal helmet law repealed 1976.

Arizona

Helmets required for riders under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1976.

Arkansas

Helmets required for riders under 21. Universal helmet law repealed 1997.

California

Universal helmet law enacted 1992.

Colorado

Helmets required for all riders and passengers under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1977.

Connecticut

Helmets required for all riders under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1976.

Delaware

Helmets required for all riders under 19. Universal helmet law repealed 1978.

D.C.

Universal helmet law enacted 1970

Florida

Helmets required for riders under 21 or those with less than $10,000 in medical coverage for motorcycle-related injuries. Universal helmet law repealed in 2000.

Georgia

Universal helmet law enacted 1969.

Guam

Helmets required for all riders and passengers under 18 and drivers licensed for fewer than 3 years.

Hawaii

Helmets required for all riders under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1977.

Idaho

Helmets required for all riders under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1978.

Illinois

No restrictions. Universal helmet law repealed 1970

Indiana

Helmets required for all riders under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1977.

Iowa

No restrictions. Universal helmet law repealed 1976.

Kansas

Helmets required for all riders under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1976.

Kentucky

Helmets required for riders under 21 or who have been licensed less than one year. Universal helmet law repealed 1998.

Louisiana

Universal helmet law enacted 2004.

Maine

Under-18 and riders licensed less than one year

Maryland

Universal helmet law enacted 1967.

Massachusetts

Universal helmet law enacted 1967.

Michigan

Helmets required for riders under 21 or for riders and passengers without additional insurance. Universal helmet law repealed 2012.

Minnesota

Helmets required for all riders under 18 or with instructional permit. Universal helmet law repealed 1977.

Mississippi

Universal helmet law enacted 1974.

Missouri

Motorcyclists may ride without helmets if they are 26 yrs or older and have medical insurance.

Montana

Helmets required for riders under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1977.

Nebraska

Universal helmet law enacted 1989.

Nevada

Universal helmet law enacted 1972.

New Hampshire

No restrictions.

New Jersey

Universal helmet law enacted 1968.

New Mexico

Helmets required for riders under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1977.

New York

Universal helmet law enacted 1967.

North Carolina

Universal helmet law enacted 1968.

North Dakota

Helmets required for all riders under 18 and all passengers if operator is under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1977.

Northern Mariana Islands

Universal helmet law.

Ohio

Helmets required for riders under 18 or who have been licensed for less than one year as well as for all passengers when the operator is required to wear a helmet. Universal helmet law repealed 1978.

Oklahoma

Helmets required for riders under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1976.

Oregon

Universal helmet law enacted 1988.

Pennsylvania

Helmets required for all riders under 21 or who have been licensed for less than 2 years, except those who complete a PennDOT- or Motorcycle Safety Foundation-approved safety course. Universal helmet law repealed 2003.

Puerto Rico

Universal helmet law.

Rhode Island

Helmets required for all riders under 21 or who have been licensed less than one year; helmets required for all passengers. Universal helmet law repealed 1976.

South Carolina

Helmets required for all riders under 21. Universal helmet law repealed 1980.

South Dakota

Helmets required for riders under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1977.

Tennessee

Universal helmet law enacted 1967.

Texas

Helmets required for all riders under 21 as well as those who have not completed a safety course or have no medical insurance (secondarily enforced). Universal helmet law repealed 1997.

Utah

Helmets required for all riders under 21. Universal helmet law repealed 1977.

Vermont

Universal helmet law enacted 1968

Virgin Islands

Universal helmet law.

Virginia

Universal helmet law enacted 1970.

Washington

Universal helmet law enacted 1990.

West Virginia

Universal helmet law enacted 1971.

Wisconsin

Helmets required for riders under 18 or with instructional permit. Universal helmet law repealed 1978.

Wyoming

Helmets required for riders under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1983.

 

Final Note on Motorcycle Helmet Use

It's simple, use it! A helmet is by far the most effective piece of motorcycle safety equipment on the market. Protect yourself and those that you depend on you and care abut you!

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