Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.Henry David Thoreau

Does California Have a Helmet Law?

Does California Have a Helmet Law?

Welcome to our article on California’s helmet law. Whether you’re a rider, driver or passenger, understanding the rules and safety tips related to helmets is essential. We’ll cover everything you need to know about California’s current helmet law, including what types of vehicles require helmets, exceptions for certain riders, penalties for non-compliance, and more. We’ll also provide some helpful tips on how to stay safe while riding in California. Let’s get started!

What Is California’s Helmet Law?

California’s helmet law states that all motorcycle riders, motorized scooter riders, and bicycle riders under 18 must wear an approved helmet. The helmet must be made of hard material and securely fastened to prevent it from slipping off the rider’s head. It should also meet or exceed U.S. Department of Transportation standards. [2]

What Is California's Helmet Law?

California’s General Rule for Motorcycle Helmet Use

In California, all motorcycle riders and passengers must wear a helmet that meets the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218 (FMVSS 218). This means any helmet sold in the state must be labeled with this standard certification. The law also requires that helmets fit securely and snugly to your head so that it doesn’t come off in an accident.

Helmet speakers and earplugs are also allowed so long as they do not interfere with the helmet’s ability to stay in place or muffle outside noise below 82 decibels (dB). Riders who want to wear a face shield must make sure their helmets have “DOT” approval. This approval ensures that the face shield meets California standards for motorcycle safety. [2]

Are There Exceptions to California’s Helmet Law?

Yes, there are certain exceptions to California’s helmet law. Motorcycle riders and passengers under the age of 21 are required to wear a helmet that meets the standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation. However, these riders may be exempt from wearing helmets if they have proof of completing a motorcycle safety course approved by the California Highway Patrol (CHP).

In addition, motorcyclists who are over the age of 21 may ride without a helmet if they have proof of either a two-year insurance policy with at least $10,000 in medical benefits or have received written approval from a physician stating that the rider is physically incapable of wearing a helmet. [1]

Complying with California’s Insurance Exception

California’s motor vehicle code also allows an insurance exception for motorcycle riders who choose not to wear a helmet. Those complying with this exception must carry at least $10,000 in medical payment or injury benefits coverage on the rider and passenger. The proof of such coverage must be presented when requested by police. Note that a violation of California’s helmet law, while not a criminal offense, may result in civil liability if the driver is involved in an accident. [2]

When Did California Repeal Its Helmet Law?

The helmet law in California was repealed in 1992. Though not required by law, the state still recommends that all riders wear a helmet for their safety.

In 2020, state legislators proposed new laws to make wearing helmets mandatory for young motorcycle riders and passengers under 18 years old. Unfortunately, the bill failed to pass through both chambers of the legislature and will be revisited in future legislative sessions.[1]

When Did California Repeal Its Helmet Law?

Is California’s Helmet Law Constitutional?

One of the most contentious debates surrounding California’s helmet law is its constitutionality. Opponents of the law have argued that it violates their right to personal autonomy, while proponents argue that the public interest in keeping people safe outweighs any individual rights.

At this time, courts have generally upheld the constitutionality of laws requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets, although there have been a few exceptions. In California, the courts have held that the helmet law does not violate a person’s right of personal autonomy because it is “rationally related to promoting safety on highways and streets.” [1]

Is Eye Protection Required for Motorcyclists in California?

The short answer is no, but it is highly recommended. California does not have a law that requires motorcyclists to wear eye protection while riding. However, many riders choose to do so in order to protect their eyes from debris, dust, and other hazards encountered on the road.

Wearing protective eyewear such as goggles or a full-face helmet can help reduce the risk of eye injury and keep riders safer. It’s especially important in California, where some of the most potent sun rays in the US are found along many of our highways. [3]

What Is the Penalty for Operating a Without a Helmet in California?

In California, it is illegal to operate a motorcycle without a helmet. The law states that all motorists must wear a properly fitted and fastened helmet while riding any motor vehicle operated on public roadways. Violation of this law can result in an infraction with a fine up to $250 for the first offense and up to $500 for the second or subsequent offense. [3]

California Helmet Laws and Car Accident Compensation

One of the questions many people have when it comes to motorcycling in California is what kind of helmet they need to wear. The answer is that California has a strict helmet law that applies to all riders, regardless of age or experience level. According to the California Vehicle Code (CVC) §27803, anyone operating a motorcycle must wear a helmet that meets the standards of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

It’s important to note that while wearing a helmet can help protect you in an accident, it won’t necessarily guarantee full compensation for your injuries. Even if you wear a helmet, it might not be enough to protect you if your injuries exceed the limits set by your insurance policy. For example, if you suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in an accident, it could be difficult to receive full compensation for all of your medical expenses and long-term care costs without additional coverage or legal assistance. [2]

Car Accident Compensation

Comparative Negligence and Motorcycle Accidents

In California, the legal doctrine of comparative negligence may affect the determination of fault in a motorcycle accident. This means that even if you were partially responsible for causing your accident, you may still receive compensation from another party who was also negligent. For example, if you and a car driver both contributed to an accident, then each of you will be assigned a percentage of fault, and you can still receive compensation for your damages up to the amount that is proportionate to the other driver’s responsibility. [2]

Not Wearing a Helmet and Claiming Compensation

When it comes to motorcycle accidents and helmet use, many people are uncertain about their rights when they choose not to wear a helmet.

In California, the state has a law that requires all motorcyclists over 18 years of age to wear a helmet while operating or riding on their motorcycles. Therefore, if you are an adult and you choose not to wear a helmet while riding your motorcycle, you will be in violation of the law and could potentially face penalties.

However, if you are injured in an accident while not wearing a helmet, it does not automatically disqualify you from seeking compensation for any injuries that may have been caused by another person’s negligence. [2]

Do Motorcycle Helmets Save Lives?

Studies have shown that the answer to this question is a resounding yes. Motorcycle helmets are estimated to be about 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries for motorcyclists and 41% effective for passengers. This means that wearing a helmet can reduce your risk of dying in an accident by nearly half.

But even if you don’t ride a motorcycle, it is important to wear a helmet for protection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by 69% and the risk of death by 42%. [3]

Do Motorcycle Helmets Save Lives?

Reasons to Always Wear a Helmet

To ensure your safety and the safety of others, helmets are recommended for anyone riding a bicycle in California. Here are some reasons why:

  1. Reduce head injuries: Helmets reduce the risk of head injuries and brain trauma by up to 85%. This means that if you wear a helmet while biking, you have an 85% lower chance of sustaining a serious head injury in the event of an accident.
  2. Increase visibility: Helmets also make you more visible to other motorists and pedestrians on the road, helping to avoid collisions.
  3. Comply with the law: California’s helmet law requires anyone under 18 years of age to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle.
  4. Promote safety: Wearing a helmet promotes safety among cyclists and encourages others to wear them as well. It’s an important step in reducing bike-related injuries and deaths.
  5. Improve comfort: Many helmets come with adjustable straps, so they fit comfortably on your head. This makes them much easier to wear than hats or other headgear, and they keep your head cool while biking in hot weather. [1]

Enforcement of California’s Helmet Law

The enforcement of the helmet law in California is a two-way street. On one hand, it is punishable by law for those who ride without a helmet; on the other hand, it’s also illegal for motorcyclists to wear helmets that do not meet the Department of Transportation safety standards.

In terms of enforcing the law, the police have the authority to pull over motorcyclists who are not wearing a helmet. However, this does not automatically mean that you will be fined or ticketed; instead, it serves as an educational opportunity to remind people of the importance of following the law. The fines for riding without a helmet can range anywhere from $25 up to $250, depending on the severity of the infraction. [1]

What You Need to Know About Helmet Laws for Children

Helmet laws for children in California vary depending on the type of activity they are participating in. Under the state’s current helmet law, anyone under 18 years old must wear a bicycle helmet while riding a bike or any other device propelled by human power. It is also mandatory to wear an approved motorcycle, horseback riding, or skateboarding helmet while participating in those activities.

When it comes to skateboarding, children must wear a helmet with a chin strap fastened securely and the helmet should fit properly. Skateboarders are also required to wear elbow pads, wrist guards, and knee pads while they ride, as well as reflective clothing at night.[1]

Vehicles to Which the Motorcycle Helmet Laws Do Not Apply

The California motorcycle helmet law does not apply to motorized scooters. However, it is highly recommended that those who operate a scooter wear a safety approved helmet.

Mopeds and motorized bicycles are also exempt from the helmet law. However, it is strongly advised that riders use head protection while riding these vehicles as well.

Additionally, the law does not apply to three-wheeled motorized vehicles such as ATVs and all-terrain vehicles, although safe operation of these vehicles requires protective gear. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) recommends riders use approved helmets and safety clothing when operating any type of recreational vehicle. [2]

What Is The Difference Between Certified And Non-Certified Helmets?

When it comes to helmets, there is a difference between those that are certified and those that are not. Certified helmets meet specific safety standards set by the U.S. Government and have been tested for their ability to protect your head from impact injuries in the event of an accident. Non-certified helmets may provide some measure of protection, but they do not meet the safety standards that certified helmets do.

When you are purchasing a helmet, it’s important to make sure it is certified so that you know it will provide maximum protection in an accident. Look for helmets that have been approved by organizations such as the Department of Transportation (DOT) or the Snell Memorial Foundation. [3]

Who Is Liable In A Motorcycle Accident?

If you have been in a motorcycle accident, the first question on your mind is likely who is liable. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, liability can be shared among two or more parties.

In California, riders and drivers are responsible for their own safety and must abide by traffic laws. If either party fails to do so, they can be held liable for the accident. For instance, if a biker was speeding and ran a red light, that driver could be held responsible for any damages or injuries caused by the collision. [2]

Who Is Liable In A Motorcycle Accident?

Is Choosing Not To Wear A Helmet Considered Negligence?

In California, if you choose not to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle or bicycle, it is considered negligence. If an accident occurs and you are found to have been negligent in your decision not to wear a helmet, the courts will likely hold you responsible for any resulting injuries or damages. This means that in addition to medical costs, you may be held liable for other losses sustained by the other party, such as lost wages and pain and suffering. Therefore, it is in your best interest to wear a helmet whenever you are on a motorcycle or bicycle. [3]

Are Helmets Effective In Preventing Injuries?

Yes! According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), helmets are one of the most effective ways to reduce head injuries from motorcycle crashes. When worn correctly, helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of death by 37%, and the risk of traumatic brain injuries by 67%. [2]

Other Ways To Prevent Motorcycle Injuries

In addition to following your state’s helmet laws, there are other steps you can take to help reduce motorcyclist fatalities and injuries on the road.

  • Wear bright colors: Wearing bright colors, such as neon or fluorescent colors, makes it easier for drivers around you to see you on the road.
  • Get proper training: Take a motorcycle safety course. This can help you learn the basics of riding and how to drive safely on the roads.
  • Make sure your bike is in good condition: Make sure that all lights, brakes, and tires are working properly before taking off on your motorcycle.
  • Follow the rules of the road: Make sure you obey all traffic laws, including speed limits and right-of-way.
  • Pay attention to the weather: Rain, wind, fog, and other inclement weather can increase your chances of getting into an accident. If possible, try to avoid riding in bad weather. [1]


When did California require motorcycle helmets?

California has had a universal helmet law since 1992. This means that no matter what motorcycle you are riding, or where in California you are riding it, all riders must wear helmets that meet standards set by the Department of Transportation (DOT). These helmets must have chin straps and either be full-face or provide the same level of protection as a full-face helmet. The law applies to both operators and passengers; however, passengers only need to meet the requirements if they are 17 years of age or younger.

Which US states have no helmet law?

Currently, only three states in the United States do not have a helmet law: Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire. All other states either have a universal helmet law that applies to all riders or some form of modified law that allows certain riders (such as those over 21) to go without helmets.

Can you get a ticket for not wearing a helmet in California?

Yes, you can get a ticket for not wearing a helmet in California. The amount of the fine and any other penalties depend on the county or municipality where the violation occurs. In some cases, jail time may be imposed as well. Additionally, if you are caught riding without a helmet more than once, your license may be suspended.

Is it illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk in California?

It is illegal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk in most of California. The exceptions are if you are riding a bicycle with two tandem wheels or if the local jurisdiction has designated an area for this purpose. In all other cases, you must use the roadway and follow all applicable traffic laws.

Useful Video: California Helmet Law for Motorcycle Riders


California’s helmet law requires all motorcyclists, regardless of age or experience level, to wear a helmet when riding. Not wearing a helmet could result in a hefty fine and points on your license. Additionally, motorcycle helmets are proven to be very effective in protecting riders from serious head injuries.

It is recommended that you always wear your helmet when riding. Make sure it is DOT-certified and fits correctly for maximum protection. If you are unsure, talk to your local motorcycle dealer or visit the California Department of Motor Vehicles website for more information on the state’s helmet law and approved helmets.

By taking the time to understand and obey California’s helmet laws, you can help ensure that you and other riders stay safe on the roads. Safety is always a priority, so make sure to wear your helmet every time you hit the open road!

Happy riding!


  1. https://www.citywidelaw.com/los-angeles-motorcycle-accident-attorney/motorcycle-helmet-laws/
  2. https://www.mesrianilaw.com/blog/california-motorcycle-helmet-laws/
  3. https://www.bohnlaw.com/2022/03/20/californias-motorcycle-helmet-law-matters/