If you ride a motorcycle in California, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the applicable California helmet law and obey all of the rules that apply to you.
You also have the right to stand up for yourself in the event you are following applicable rules and you are in an accident that was not your fault.
California Helmet Laws
California motorcycle helmet law is covered under Vehicle Code Section 27803.
California is one of a handful of states that requires all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet. All drivers and passengers must wear a helmet that meets federal safety standards, regardless of age.
This law applies to riders on highways as well as rural roads. The helmet law in California does not apply to anyone on a fully enclosed three-wheeled motor vehicle that is over seven feet long and four feet wide.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHS), helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing death and 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries.
Purchasing a Helmet that Meets Federal Standards
When purchasing a helmet, you must get one that meets federal standards, and it should fit snugly on your head. One helpful tip is to look for a DOT, Department of Transportation, sticker, which is a sign that the helmet manufacturer followed federal safety standards. Having someone help fit you in a helmet is good because they can ensure the helmet doesn’t move excessively and is properly fastened with the straps.
Approved helmets meet minimum requirements such as:
- Inner liner at least one inch thick and made of polystyrene foam
- Nothing protruding more than two-tenths of an inch from the helmet shell
- Sturdy chin straps that are attached to the helmet shell with solid rivets
Approved helmets typically weigh around three pounds or more.
Penalties for Not Wearing a Helmet
Both motorcyclists and their passengers can be subject to fines and other penalties if they fail to wear a DOT approved helmet in California. Law enforcement officers are entitled to charge an offender with an equipment violation or something greater. Equipment violations carry a minimal fine per the California Vehicle Code, but the California Highway Patrol states any violation of the helmet law is not just an equipment violation as it is an immediate safety hazard.
If a California Highway Patrol (CHP) stops you, it could be a $250 fine and a year of probation, versus the $10 equipment violation. The courts tend to side with the CHP position, so it’s best you always wear your helmet as it will likely save you money in addition to potentially saving your life in the case of an accident.
If you sustained a head injury in a motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet, there may be comparative negligence of your actions. This means you may be somewhat at fault for your injuries.
Retaining a California Motorcycle Attorney
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, a California motorcycle attorney can assist in answering any questions and addressing your concerns. Depending on the facts surrounding the accident, you may be entitled to compensation for injuries and property damage. Call the Beliz Law Firm at 562-452-3772 to schedule a consultation.