California Motorcycle Helmet Laws

man wearing motorcycle helmet while riding

Motorcycle helmet laws in California require all riders and passengers to wear a safety helmet when riding.

It doesn’t matter if you’re just cruising down the block at five miles per hour, you can still expect to get a ticket and pay a fine of up to $250 for not wearing a helmet.

These motorcycle helmet laws are in place for your own safety, as helmets have been proven to dramatically reduce head injuries and fatalities resulting from motorcycle accidents. Helmeted riders have up to a 73 percent lower fatality rate, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Head injuries account for the majority of serious and fatal motorcyclist injuries.” -California DMV

Safety Standards for Motorcycle Helmets

In order to comply with motorcycle safety laws in California, you must choose a helmet that has been certified by the Department of Transportation (DOT). A non-compliant helmet isn’t as strong or well-padded as a compliant one, though they can look very similar and be sold in the same location. Make sure a U.S. DOT certification has been placed on your helmet by the manufacturer and can’t be easily removed.

 a dot certified helmet in compliance with motorcycle helmet laws

Wearing Ear Plugs on a Motorcycle

It is against California law to wear a headset, earplugs, or earphones in both ears while riding a motorcycle, unless the are ear protectors designed to reduce harmful noise levels. It’s important to always be able to hear emergency vehicle sirens and car horns.

Other Motorcycle Safety Gear

There are types of gear that fall outside of motorcycle helmet laws which are not mandatory, but strongly encouraged you wear for your own protection. They are:

Face shields. DOT-certified helmets are available as half shell, three-quarters or full-face helmets. Obviously, more coverage offers more protection. Don’t rely on glasses and windshields to protect your eyes and face — a helmets with a face shield is your best bet.

Boots. Over-the-ankle boots with durable, slip-resistant soles offer the best protection for your feet. At minimum, wear closed-toed shoes and tuck in the laces.

Jackets. A motorcycle jacket should be fitted, but not too tight, and wind resistant. There are many synthetic jackets on the market now, but classic leather still works just fine.

Long pants. Covering your legs may help reduce the amount of “road rash” in case of accident, as well as reduce sun and wind exposure. Denim jeans are the most durable option, after leather.

Will Failure to Wear a Helmet Affect My Settlement?

If you are seeking compensation for motorcycle accident injuries to the head or neck, then failure to obey motorcycle helmet laws will almost certainly have a negative impact on your settlement. If the injury occurred elsewhere on your body, there’s a chance that a good motorcycle accident lawyer can argue in your favor.

Your attorney will be opposing an insurance adjuster who will try to prove you to be an irresponsible driver, and having ignored the law won’t do you any favors. Be careful to choose a lawyer who has experience winning many motorcycle accident settlements.

A Word About Defective Motorcycle Helmets

It’s possible that even a top-of-the-line, DOT-certified helmet can fail to perform as expected. For example, the helmet may crack too easily, or the chinstrap may become loose, causing the helmet to come off during impact and leading to severe motorcycle accident injuries of the brain, neck, or spine. When this is the case, it becomes an issue of defective product liability.

These cases often become complicated in the process of determining whether the fault lies with the manufacturer, designer, or other party in the chain of commerce. If you suspect your motorcycle injuries were caused by a defective motorcycle helmet, get a free legal consultation right away.

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