Helmet Law States 2019

There is no federal law requiring bike or motorcycle riders to wear helmets. This causes a mix of legislation regarding helmets across all 50 states. Whether or not it is a law to wear a helmet when riding, doing so is always a good idea.

Studies show that wearing a helmet can reduce one’s risk of serious brain injury or death. During a collision or fall, a proper helmet absorbs the impact energy, protecting the head and brain. Head trauma can lead to permanent cognitive and behavioral problems such as sleep disorders, trouble concentrating, memory loss and disability.

Motorcycle helmet laws can be categorized four ways: required for everyone, required for everyone under 21, required for anyone under 18, and not required. Currently, only 19 states and Washington D.C. have universal helmet laws.

In California, for example, the law requires all motorcyclists, both drivers and passengers, of any age to wear a helmet at all times when riding. Safety helmets must comply with federal safety standards. Failure to wear a helmet can result in either an equipment violation with a $10 fine or a greater penalty at the discretion of the law enforcement officer.

Penalties vary from state to state depending on state laws.

The following states have a universal helmet law:

The following states require helmets for riders under 21:

The following states require helmets for riders under 18:

The following states have no law regarding helmets:

State Helmets Required Note 2019 Pop.
AlabamaAll Riders4,898,246
AlaskaAge RequirementPersons 18 years of age or older "may not" be required to wear a helmet when operating a motorcycle in Alaska as long as that person is licensed to operate a motorcycle.735,720
ArizonaAge RequirementOnly those motorcycle operators and riders under 18 must wear a helmet.7,275,070
ArkansasAge RequirementArkansas law requires motorcycle operators and passengers under 21 to wear a helmet.3,026,412
CaliforniaAll Riders39,747,267
ColoradoAge RequirementAll operators and passengers under 18 years of age must wear helmets.5,770,545
ConnecticutAge RequirementIn Connecticut, no one under 18 is permitted to operate or ride on a motorcycle without wearing a helmet. 3,567,871
DelawareAge RequirementEvery person up to the age of 19 must wear a safety helmet and eye protection approved by the secretary. Any rider over the age of 19 must have a helmet and eye protection in their possession when riding.975,033
District of ColumbiaAll Riders711,571
FloridaAge RequirementAll motorcycle operators and riders less than 21 required to wear helmets.21,646,155
GeorgiaAll Riders10,627,767
HawaiiAge RequirementNo one under age 18 can operate or ride as a passenger on a motorcycle without a helmet.1,416,589
IdahoAge RequirementAnyone under 18 who drives or rides on a motorcycle in Idaho must wear a helmet.1,790,182
IllinoisNo Helmet Law12,700,381
IndianaAge RequirementIn Indiana, the law requires only those motorcycle drivers and riders under 18 to wear a helmet and protective glasses, goggles, or transparent face shields.6,718,616
IowaNo Helmet Law3,167,997
KansasAge RequirementOnly riders and passengers who are under the age of 18 are required to wear a motorcycle helmet.2,910,931
KentuckyAge RequirementKentucky law requires all persons under 21 who operate or ride on a motorcycle or who ride in an attached sidecar to wear a helmet.4,484,047
LouisianaAll Riders4,652,581
MaineAge RequirementAll motorcycle and sidecar passengers under 18 required to wear a helmet.1,342,097
MarylandAll Riders6,062,917
MassachusettsAll Riders6,939,373
MichiganAge RequirementRiders must wear helmets until they are age 21.10,020,472
MinnesotaAge RequirementAll motorcycle operators and riders under 18 must wear a helmet.5,655,925
MississippiAll Riders2,987,895
MissouriAll Riders6,147,861
MontanaAge RequirementMotorcycle operators and passengers under 18 must wear a helmet.1,074,532
NebraskaAll Riders1,940,919
NevadaAll Riders3,087,025
New HampshireAge RequirementRiders under the age of 18 are required to wear helmets.1,363,852
New JerseyAll Riders8,922,547
New MexicoAge RequirementOnly those motorcycle operators and passengers under 18 are required to wear a helmet.2,096,034
New YorkAll Riders19,491,339
North CarolinaAll Riders10,497,741
North DakotaAge RequirementAll motorcycle operators and passengers under 18 must wear helmets.760,900
OhioAge RequirementIn Ohio, all motorcycle operators under 18 and those who hold a "novice license" must wear a helmet.11,718,568
OklahomaAge RequirementOklahoma law requires only those motorcycle operators and passengers under 18 to wear helmets.3,948,950
OregonAll Riders4,245,901
PennsylvaniaAge RequirementAll motorcycle operators and riders under 21 must wear helmets.12,813,969
Rhode IslandAge RequirementRhode Island law requires motorcycle operators under 21 to wear a helmet. Additionally, all new operators, regardless of age, must wear a helmet for one year after the date that their motorcycle operator's license is issued.1,056,738
South CarolinaAge RequirementAll motorcycle operators and passengers under 21 must wear a helmet.5,147,111
South DakotaAge RequirementSouth Dakota law requires all motorcycle operators and passengers under 18 to wear a helmet.892,631
TennesseeAll Riders6,833,793
TexasAge RequirementAll motorcycle operators and riders less than 21 required to wear helmets.29,087,070
UtahAge RequirementIn Utah, motorcycle operators and riders under 18 must wear a helmet.3,221,610
VermontAll Riders627,180
VirginiaAll Riders8,571,946
WashingtonAll Riders7,666,343
West VirginiaAll Riders1,791,951
WisconsinAge RequirementWisconsin law requires all motorcycle operators under 18 or those operators holding an instructional permit to wear a helmet.5,832,661
WyomingAge RequirementIn Wyoming, only those motorcycle drivers and passengers under 18 are required to wear helmets.572,381