Motorcycle Helmet Law in California

motorcyclist wearing protective helmet

California motorcycle helmet statutes authorize the Department of Motor Vehicles to create regulations and safety standards for motorcycle helmets. All motorcycle riders need to wear a DOT-compliant helmet to reduce their risks of being injured or killed in a motorcycle accident.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact a California personal injury lawyer at The Shamsi Law Firm, APC, for a free consultation about seeking financial compensation through a personal injury suit. 

Why Are Helmet Laws Important?

Helmet laws for motorcyclists are essential because they help keep motorcyclists alive. If you’re wearing a DOT-compliant helmet, you’re three times more likely to survive a head injury than a motorcyclist who does not have a helmet. Wearing a compliant helmet reduces the frequency and severity of head injuries. Motorcycle accident fatalities went down by 37.5 percent after California’s motorcycle helmet law was passed, and head injuries decreased by 69 percent.

California’s Helmet Requirements for Motorcyclists

California motorcycle helmet requirements specify that a motorcycle helmet must have a hard outer shell, a polystyrene foam liner, an energy-absorbent comfort liner, strong rivets, and a face and chin protector. A full-face helmet must also have a face shield. 

California’s helmet law applies to operators and passengers on most motorcycles, motorized bicycles, and motor-driven cycles, but some California helmet law exemptions exist. For instance, the California motorcycle helmet law does not apply to three-wheeled vehicles at least seven feet long, four feet wide, and 900 pounds or more, as long as the vehicle is fully enclosed and meets other state and federal regulations.

Type of Helmet Required Under California Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Motorcycle helmet regulations in California require all motorcycle drivers and passengers to wear a DOT-compliant helmet. Non-compliant helmets can closely resemble compliant helmets but do not offer the same level of protection. Their padding is usually thinner and much less protective. 

A DOT-compliant helmet will always be marked as such. Before buying a motorcycle helmet, check for the DOT certification mark to ensure compliance. Watch out for stickers bearing DOT lettering, as these are not reliable. The certification mark should be built into the helmet itself.

Half-shell, three-quarter shell, and full-face helmets are all allowed as long as they carry the certification symbol. However, if you ride with a helmet without a face shield, you must wear goggles for eye protection.

Possible Penalties for Failure to Wear a Helmet 

The usual fine for not wearing a motorcycle safety helmet in California is $250. However, motorcycle helmet fines can go up considerably when combined with other charges such as speeding or reckless driving. Wearing a DOT-compliant helmet isn’t just safer. It can also save you a lot of money in unnecessary fines under California law. 

A California Motorcycle Accident Attorney Can Help 

Helmet-related legal requirements for California bikers help keep motorcyclists safe, but motorcycle accidents can still happen to anyone regardless of motorcycle helmet use. Our California motorcycle accident attorney can take on the insurance companies and help you seek compensation for your injuries from a motorcycle crash in a personal injury lawsuit.

When motorcycle accident victims need a strong legal advocate on their side, they turn to The Shamsi Law Firm, APC. Nothing matters more to us than helping our clients. Contact us today for your free consultation.