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Does North Carolina Have a Helmet Law?

Does North Carolina Have a Helmet Law?

In the United States, each state has their own laws governing motorcycle rider safety. One of these laws is the helmet law, which requires riders to wear a protective helmet while operating or riding on a motorcycle or moped. In this article, we’ll explore whether North Carolina has a helmet law and answer some frequently asked questions about it.

What Is North Carolina’s Helmet Law?

In the state of North Carolina, all motorcycle riders and passengers are required to wear a protective helmet at all times when operating or riding on a motorcycle. The helmet must also meet the standards set forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Headgear that meets these standards will feature a chin strap, have a label certifying it is compliant with the NHTSA standard, and must not be modified in any way that changes its protective value. [2]

North Carolina’s General Rule for Motorcycle Helmet Use

In North Carolina, all riders and passengers must wear a helmet on motorcycles that meet the standards set forth by the state. The law states that only helmets approved by either the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) are acceptable for use in North Carolina.

The standard for all motorcycle helmets must meet the minimum requirements, including being made of durable material, having straps to securely fasten the helmet to the rider’s head, and having a scratch-resistant visor. In addition, riders who are under 21 years old must wear an eye protection device while on their motorcycle. [2]

Rule for Motorcycle Helmet Use

Are There Exceptions to North Carolina’s Helmet Law?

Yes, there are certain exceptions to North Carolina’s helmet law. For example, passengers in open-air vehicles such as convertibles, or those with a detachable windscreen and side curtains, are exempt from the requirement to wear helmets. There is also an exception for farm tractors and other equipment used in agricultural operations. Motorized scooters and mopeds are also exempt from North Carolina’s helmet law. However, anyone riding a motorized scooter or moped must be 16 years of age or older in order to ride without a helmet. Lastly, riders participating in officially-sanctioned motorcycle rallies, parades or rides organized by state-recognized organizations are exempt from the helmet law when accompanied by a safety escort. [1]

Complying with North Carolina’s Insurance Exception

Under North Carolina law, anyone riding a motorcycle must have liability insurance coverage. However, if you choose to forgo wearing a helmet while riding, you may still be able to get insurance coverage as long as your policy includes an “insurance exception” rider. This rider allows you to ride without a helmet but still gives the insurer the right to deny any and all claims if you are injured in an accident.

When you purchase a policy with an insurance exception rider, it is important to be aware that your insurer can still refuse payment for medical bills or other expenses related to the accident should you choose not to follow helmet safety laws. Therefore, if you decide to ride without a helmet, make sure your insurance policy includes an insurance exception rider and that you understand all of the details related to it. [1]

When Did North Carolina Repeal Its Helmet Law?

In 2013, North Carolina repealed its universal helmet law, making helmets optional for riders over the age of 18.  The repeal means that motorcyclists are no longer required to wear a helmet while riding on public highways or roads in North Carolina.

However, even though wearing a helmet is not mandatory anymore, it is still highly recommended. Motorcycles are inherently dangerous, and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), helmets are approximately 37% effective in preventing fatalities and 67% effective in preventing brain injuries. [3]

Is North Carolina’s Helmet Law Constitutional?

The short answer to this question is: yes.

In North Carolina, the state Supreme Court ruled that motorcycle helmet laws are constitutional, based on the fact that these laws serve a legitimate public safety purpose and do not violate an individual’s right to privacy or their freedom of expression. The ruling was upheld in subsequent court cases.

However, the helmet law in North Carolina is relatively lenient compared to many other states. It only requires that a driver or passenger of a motorcycle wear protective headgear when operating on public roads and highways within the state. Riders are not required to wear helmets when riding on private property or participating in off-road recreational activities (such as motocross). [3]

Is North Carolina’s Helmet Law Constitutional?

Is Eye Protection Required for Motorcyclists in North Carolina?

When it comes to motorcycle safety, eyesight should be a top priority. In North Carolina, eye protection is not required for motorcyclists; however, the state strongly encourages riders to wear some form of eye protection while riding. Wearing goggles, a face shield or some other form of eyewear significantly reduces the risk of debris and other objects entering your eyes, and helps protect against the sun’s harmful UV rays.

When selecting eyewear for riding a motorcycle in North Carolina, riders should take into account the type of terrain they will be traveling on. For example, when riding on highways or main roads that are well-paved and relatively straight, tinted lenses may be more suitable. For more off-road riding, clear lenses may offer the best protection against dust, dirt, and mud kicked up from the road surface.[2]

What Is the Penalty for Operating a Without a Helmet in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, it is illegal to operate a motorcycle on public roads and highways without wearing a helmet. Violations of the law are considered misdemeanors and can result in fines up to $100 for each offense. Riders who violate the law are also subject to criminal prosecution with possible jail sentences of up to 30 days. [1]

North Carolina Helmet Laws and Car Accident Compensation

In North Carolina, people operating or riding a motorcycle must wear an approved helmet that meets Department of Transportation (DOT) standards. Motorcycle riders and passengers who are under the age of 21 are required to wear a helmet at all times when operating or riding on a motorcycle. Riders over 21 may choose not to wear a helmet if they meet certain requirements.

The helmet law isn’t the only thing to consider when it comes to motorcycle safety in North Carolina. It’s important for riders and operators of all ages to be well-versed in the state’s traffic laws, including speed limits and lane-sharing regulations. Taking a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) rider course is also a good idea, as this will help you learn the basics of operating a motorcycle. [1]

Comparative Negligence and Motorcycle Accidents

In North Carolina, when a motorcycle accident occurs, comparative negligence may be taken into consideration. Comparative negligence is a legal doctrine that assigns percentages of fault to each party involved in an accident depending on their level of responsibility for the crash. The percentage of fault affects the amount of damages or compensation that can be recovered from the other parties involved. [3]

Not Wearing a Helmet and Claiming Compensation

If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, and were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, you may still be able to claim compensation. However, it is important to note that in North Carolina, motorists are required by law to wear helmets when riding motorcycles.

In some cases, even if you were not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, you can still pursue compensation from the party responsible for your injuries. This may be possible if the defendant can be found negligent in their duty of care or if they have contributed to your crash in some way. For example, if they were driving recklessly or under the influence of drugs and alcohol. [2]

Do Motorcycle Helmets Save Lives?

Motorcycle helmets are essential safety gear for any motorcyclist on the road. Not only do they protect your head and face from injury in a crash, but they can also save your life. Research shows that wearing a motorcycle helmet reduces the risk of death by as much as 37%.

But not every state has adopted laws requiring helmet use. North Carolina is one of these states, which is why it’s important to know the facts about motorcycle helmets and whether they are required in North Carolina. [1]

Do Motorcycle Helmets Save Lives?

Reasons to Always Wear a Helmet

Regardless of whether or not North Carolina has a state helmet law, there are plenty of good reasons to make sure you wear a helmet whenever you ride your bike. Not only can a helmet protect your head and save your life in the event of an accident, but they also provide added protection from debris and other objects that may be flying around you while you ride.

Helmets are also lightweight and comfortable to wear, so it’s easy to forget that you’re even wearing one. Plus, they come in a variety of styles and colors, making it easy to find the perfect helmet for your riding needs. Lastly, helmets help enhance visibility by providing an extra layer of protection when you’re out riding in low-light conditions. [3]

Enforcement of North Carolina’s Helmet Law

North Carolina reinforces its helmet law for motorcycle riders by implementing fines and other penalties. If a motorcyclist is caught without wearing a helmet, they may receive a ticket with a fine of up to $25. However, if the violation results in injury or death, the penalty can be raised significantly. Additionally, insurance providers may deny coverage to motorcyclists who are found guilty of violating the helmet law.

It is important to note that when riding a motorcycle in North Carolina, riders must always obey the speed limit and other traffic laws in order to avoid any possibility of receiving a ticket or penalty for not wearing a helmet. Failure to comply with traffic laws can result in serious consequences and could potentially lead to an accident. [1]

What You Need to Know About Helmet Laws for Children

If you’re a parent living in North Carolina and are looking to ensure your child’s safety while riding a bicycle or motorcycle, then you need to be aware of the helmet laws for minors in the state. Here’s all you need to know:

North Carolina does have a helmet law when it comes to children under the age of 16. According to North Carolina state law, all children must wear a properly fitted and fastened helmet when riding a bicycle or motorized vehicle on public property, such as roads and highways. The helmet should also meet the safety standards set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and/or the Snell Memorial Foundation. In addition, the law states that children must wear eye protection if they are riding a motorcycle or moped. [3]

Vehicles to Which the Motorcycle Helmet Laws Do Not Apply

The motorcycle helmet laws in North Carolina do not apply to three-wheeled motorized vehicles like autocycles, as defined by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Autocycles are legally considered cars and, therefore, do not require their passengers to wear a helmet.

In addition, while operators of motorcycles must wear a helmet, if they are covered by an approved and valid insurance policy, then their passengers may be exempt from the law. The DMV defines this approved and valid insurance policy as one that meets or exceeds the state’s minimum requirements for liability coverage and provides at least $20,000 in medical benefits coverage for injury or death of persons involved in an accident. [1]

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

In North Carolina, there are two types of helmets available for use on the roads– certified and non-certified.  Certified helmets must meet standards set by the Department of Transportation to ensure safety. These helmets are designed to reduce the risk of serious injury or death in a crash. Non-certified helmets do not have to meet these standards and are often not as safe.

It is important to note that North Carolina does not require all riders to wear helmets, but those who do must use a certified helmet in order to be in compliance with the law.  Therefore, if you plan to ride a bike or motorcycle on the roads of North Carolina, it is best practice to wear a certified helmet. This will help ensure your safety in the event of an accident. [3]

Who Is Liable In A Motorcycle Accident?

If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, it is important to determine who is liable for the damages and injuries. While helmet laws vary by state, both drivers may potentially be held responsible for any damage or injury caused. In North Carolina, if you are injured while operating or riding a motorcycle without wearing an approved safety helmet, you can face a civil penalty.

However, both drivers involved in the accident can still be held responsible for any harm or damage caused, even if one driver was not wearing a helmet while the other was. North Carolina follows a contributory negligence rule when it comes to personal injury cases. This means that if you are injured and want to recover damages from the other driver, you must prove that the other driver was at least partly responsible for your injuries. [2]

Who Is Liable In A Motorcycle Accident?

Is Choosing Not To Wear A Helmet Considered Negligence?

No, North Carolina does not consider the decision to opt out of wearing a helmet as negligence. That being said, there are still serious consequences for failure to wear a helmet while riding on a motorcycle or bicycle. You could get fined or even arrested if you choose not to wear a helmet in certain areas. Furthermore, it is important to note that you could be held liable for any injury or damage that results from your decision to ride without a helmet. In other words, if an accident occurs and you are found not wearing a helmet, the court may hold you financially responsible for any resulting damages or harm. [1]

Are Helmets Effective In Preventing Injuries?

Yes, helmets can be an effective way to reduce the risk of serious or fatal injuries resulting from a motorcycle crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that in 2017, 1,859 lives were saved by the use of helmets. Wearing a helmet also reduces nonfatal injuries such as concussions and traumatic brain injuries. In fact, the NHTSA estimates that wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of a head injury by up to 69%. [1]

Other Ways To Prevent Motorcycle Injuries

In addition to wearing a helmet, there are other ways to stay safe while riding a motorcycle. Here are some tips:

  • Wear protective clothing such as long pants, boots and a jacket
  • Make sure your bike is in good condition and regularly inspect it for any problems
  • Be aware of your surroundings and look out for potential hazards
  • Ride defensively and keep your speed in check
  • Obey the traffic laws and sign at all times
  • Take a motorcycle safety course
  • Avoid riding while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. [1]


How much is a no helmet ticket in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, the fine for not wearing a helmet can be as much as $25. If you are caught driving without a helmet more than once in 12 months, the penalty increases to $50 and 2 points on your driver’s license.

Does South Carolina have a helmet law?

No, South Carolina does not have a helmet law. However, it is recommended that you always wear a helmet while riding to ensure your safety.

Does Virginia have a helmet law?

Yes, Virginia does have a helmet law. The state requires all riders to wear helmets that meet the standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation while they are operating or riding on any motorcycle or moped registered in the state of Virginia.

Does Virginia have a helmet law?

Does Las Vegas have a helmet law?

No, Las Vegas does not have a helmet law. However, it is recommended that all riders wear helmets while on the road to protect themselves from injury in the event of an accident.

Is Las Vegas a helmet state?

No, Las Vegas is not a helmet state. The city does not have a helmet law in place and it is up to the individual rider to decide whether or not they choose to wear a helmet.

Useful Video: North Carolina’s Motorcycle Helmet Law


In conclusion, North Carolina does not have a universal helmet law. However, all riders under the age of 21 must wear a helmet when riding or operating any two-wheeled vehicle. Additionally, passengers of any age are required to wear helmets in certain circumstances. In order to ensure that you and your passengers stay safe while riding on two-wheeled vehicles, it is important to always wear a helmet. If you have any questions about the laws in North Carolina regarding helmets, be sure to contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles for more information. Safety should always come first when riding on two-wheeled vehicles in North Carolina.

For additional safety tips while riding two-wheeled vehicles, be sure to check out the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s website. They have a variety of helpful resources for safe and responsible motorcycling.

Happy riding!


  1. https://www.farrin.com/blog/north-carolina-motorcycle-accidents-helmet-law-debated/
  2. https://justicecounts.com/north-carolina-motorcycle-accident-lawyer/helmet-laws/
  3. https://www.augerlaw.com/motorcycle-helmet-laws-in-north-carolina/