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Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Whipping around the roads on a motorcycle is undoubtedly thrilling, but can be equally as threatening to your life. That's why it's so important to take safety seriously from atop your bike.

While every state in the country highly recommends that everyone wear a helmet while riding or operating a motorcycle, each has a slightly different take on where they draw that line legally. Read more to see what every state's helmet requirements are when it comes to riding or operating a motorcycle.

NOTE: For states that require helmets, all helmets must also be in compliance with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)'s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard.

Alabama

  • All riders must wear helmets, regardless of age, license status, or experience.
  • The law also applies to motor-driven cycles and mopeds.

Alaska

In Alaska, you are required to wear motorcycle helmet if:

  • You are under 18 years old.
  • You are a passenger.
  • You have a motorcycle instruction permit.
  • You are taking a motorcycle road test.

Arizona

You must wear a motorcycle helmet in Arizona if you're EITHER:

  • A motorcycle rider.
    OR
  • A passenger who is under 18 years old.

Arkansas

  • All motorcycle riders in Arkansas who are under 21 years old must wear a helmet.

California

  • All riders and passengers must wear a helmet.
  • This law also applies to motor-driven cycles and mopeds.

Colorado

  • All motorcycle operators and passengers who are younger than 18 years old must wear a DOT-approved helmet.

Connecticut

  • Required for anyone under 18 years old in Connecticut—whether passenger or driver—to wear a helmet while on a motorcycle.

Delaware

  • Every rider and passenger under 19 years old is required to wear a DOT-approved helmet.
  • Every person operating or riding a motorcycle regardless of age must have a safety helmet in his or her possession.

Florida

  • Required to wear a helmet while operating a motorcycle in Florida UNLESS you have a motorcycle insurance policy for at least $20,000 in medical benefits to cover injuries sustained in a crash.
  • All riders under 21 years old must wear helmets, regardless of insurance policies.

Georgia

  • Required for every rider and passenger of a motorcycle to wear a DOT-approved helmet.

Hawaii

  • All motorcyclists under 18 years old are required to wear a motorcycle helmet.

Idaho

  • Motorcycle passengers and operators under 18 years old are required to wear helmets.

Illinois

  • There are currently NO helmet requirements for motorcycle riders or passengers in Illinois.

Indiana

  • Motorcycle operators and passengers must wear a helmet if you are under 18 years old.
  • The state also requires all learner's permit holders to wear a helmet regardless of age.

Iowa

  • Iowa currently has NO helmet requirements for motorcyclists and passengers.

Kansas

  • Helmet AND eye protection is required for motorcycle riders younger than 18 years old.

Kentucky

Helmets are required for all of the following people in Kentucky:

  • Operators and passengers under 21 years old.
  • Anyone with a motorcycle instruction permit, regardless of age.
  • Anyone who has had a motorcycle license for less than 1 year, regardless of age.

Louisiana

  • All motorcycle operators and passengers must wear a helmet in Louisiana.

Maine

Maine requires the following groups of people to wear motorcycle helmets:

  • Any operator or passenger younger than 18 years old.
  • Everyone who has a learner's permit.
  • Any rider who has had his or her motorcycle license for less than 1 year.
  • A passenger riding with any of the above operators.

Maryland

  • All motorcycle operators or passengers must wear a helmet under Maryland law.

Massachusetts

  • Every motorcycle passenger or operator is required to wear a DOT-approved helmet in Massachusetts.

Michigan

  • Any motorcycle rider or operator who is under 21 years old must wear a helmet in Michigan.
  • Once you are 21 years old, you MUST wear a helmet UNLESS you:
    • Have at least $20,000 in first-party medical benefits.
      AND
    • Have had your motorcycle license for at least 2 years.
      OR
    • Have passed an approved motorcycle safety course.
  • Passengers may also legally decline to wear a helmet IF they have at least $20,000 in first-party medical benefits in addition to the insurance required of the operator.

Minnesota

  • In Minnesota, any motorcycle rider under 18 years old must wear a DOT-approved helmet. The requirement also applies to any rider with an instruction permit or endorsement.

Mississippi

  • All motorcycle riders in Mississippi must wear a helmet.

Missouri

  • All Missouri motorcycle riders and passengers are required to wear helmets.

Montana

  • Any operator or passenger younger than 18 years old MUST wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle.

Nebraska

  • Every motorcycle passenger or operator is required to wear a helmet in Nebraska.

Nevada

  • Nevada requires all motorcycle riders and passengers to wear DOT-approved helmets.

New Hampshire

  • Riders and passengers under 18 years old are must wear motorcycle helmets in New Hampshire.

New Jersey

  • All motorcyclists are required to wear Department of Transportation-approved helmets in New Jersey.

New Mexico

  • Motorcycle drivers and passengers under 18 years old are required to wear a helmet in New Mexico.

New York

  • New York requires all motorcyclists and passengers to wear a DOT-approved helmet.

North Carolina

  • All motorcycle passengers and riders must wear helmets that comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard in North Carolina.
  • Moped riders must follow the same requirement.

North Dakota

In North Dakota, all motorcyclists and passengers younger than 18 years old must wear a helmet.

Ohio

  • Ohio motorcyclists and motorcycle passengers younger than 18 years old must wear a helmet.
  • The requirement also extends to any riders with a “novice" designation on his or her motorcycle license.

Oklahoma

  • Oklahoma motorcyclists younger than 18 years old are required to wear a DOT-approved helmet.

Oregon

  • A DOT-approved helmet must be worn by all motorcyclists and passengers in Oregon.
  • The same rule applies to moped drivers and passengers.

Pennsylvania

  • All riders under 21 years old are required to wear a motorcycle helmet in Pennsylvania.
  • After that time, a motorcyclist may opt out of wearing a helmet ONLY if:
    • You have had at least 2 years of riding experience.
      OR
    • You have successfully completed a motorcycle safety course that was approved by either the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

Rhode Island

  • Rhode Island motorcyclists younger than 21 years old must wear a helmet.
  • The state also requires all riders who have had their motorcycle license for less than 1 year to wear a helmet, regardless of age.

South Carolina

  • Both motorcycle riders and passengers who are under 21 years old are required to wear a helmet in South Carolina.

South Dakota

  • Motorcycle operators younger than 18 years old must legally wear a helmet in South Dakota.

Tennessee

  • All motorcycle riders in Tennessee are required to wear a DOT-approved helmet.

Texas

  • Texas motorcyclists under 21 years old MUST wear a helmet.
  • After that point, a rider may choose not to wear a helmet ONLY if he or she has proof of an applicable health insurance plan that provides benefits in the event of an accident.

Utah

  • The Utah law requires all motorcycle operators and passengers younger than 18 years old to wear a helmet.

Vermont

  • Every motorcycle operator and passenger must wear a helmet in Vermont.

Virginia

  • All motorcyclists and their passengers are required to wear helmets in Virginia.

Washington

  • Washington requires all motorcycle riders and operators to wear Department of Transportation-approved helmets.

Washington, D.C.

  • All motorcyclists and passengers in the District of Colombia are required to wear helmets.

West Virginia

  • Every motorcycle passenger and operator in West Virginia must wear a DOT-approved helmet.

Wisconsin

  • Wisconsin requires all motorcyclists under 18 years old to wear a helmet.
  • The law also extends to any rider with an instruction permit, regardless of age.

Wyoming

  • Wyoming does not allow for those under 18 years old to operate or ride on a motorcycle without a helmet.

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