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Helmet Law States 2021

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. A proper helmet absorbs the impact energy during a collision or fall, 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. As always, motorcyclists should follow all posted speed limits and be aware of lane splitting laws,

Motorcycle Helmet Laws by State

Motorcycle helmet laws are usually written to apply to all riders or riders under a specified age. Additionally, some states' motorcycle helmet laws do not cover certain motorcycle-type vehicles, such as mopeds or motorized bicycles.

There are only three states that do not have motorcycle helmet laws:

Nineteen states require that all riders wear a helmet. Eighteen states require riders 17 and younger to wear helmets, and nine states require riders 20 and younger to wear helmets. Delaware requires riders 18 and younger to wear helmets, and Missouri sets the age as 25.

The following states' laws do not cover certain motorcycle-type vehicles. Their specific definitions of these vehicles can be found in the table below.

Helmet Law States 2021

State Helmets Required Note 2021 Pop.
AlabamaAll Riders4,934,193
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.724,357
ArizonaAge RequirementOnly those motorcycle operators and riders under 18 must wear a helmet.7,520,103
ArkansasAge RequirementArkansas law requires motorcycle operators and passengers under 21 to wear a helmet.3,033,946
CaliforniaAll Riders39,613,493
ColoradoAge RequirementAll operators and passengers under 18 years of age must wear helmets.5,893,634
ConnecticutAge RequirementIn Connecticut, no one under 18 is permitted to operate or ride on a motorcycle without wearing a helmet. 3,552,821
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.990,334
FloridaAge RequirementAll motorcycle operators and riders less than 21 required to wear helmets.21,944,577
GeorgiaAll Riders10,830,007
HawaiiAge RequirementNo one under age 18 can operate or ride as a passenger on a motorcycle without a helmet.1,406,430
IdahoAge RequirementAnyone under 18 who drives or rides on a motorcycle in Idaho must wear a helmet.1,860,123
IllinoisNo Helmet Law12,569,321
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.6,805,663
IowaNo Helmet Law3,167,974
KansasAge RequirementOnly riders and passengers who are under the age of 18 are required to wear a motorcycle helmet.2,917,224
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.4,480,713
LouisianaAll Riders4,627,002
MaineAge RequirementAll motorcycle and sidecar passengers under 18 required to wear a helmet.1,354,522
MarylandAll Riders6,065,436
MassachusettsAll Riders6,912,239
MichiganAge RequirementRiders must wear helmets until they are age 21.9,992,427
MinnesotaAge RequirementAll motorcycle operators and riders under 18 must wear a helmet.5,706,398
MississippiAll Riders2,966,407
MissouriAll Riders6,169,038
MontanaAge RequirementMotorcycle operators and passengers under 18 must wear a helmet.1,085,004
NebraskaAll Riders1,951,996
NevadaAll Riders3,185,786
New HampshireAge RequirementRiders under the age of 18 are required to wear helmets.1,372,203
New JerseyAll Riders8,874,520
New MexicoAge RequirementOnly those motorcycle operators and passengers under 18 are required to wear a helmet.2,105,005
New YorkAll Riders19,299,981
North CarolinaAll Riders10,701,022
North DakotaAge RequirementAll motorcycle operators and passengers under 18 must wear helmets.770,026
OhioAge RequirementIn Ohio, all motorcycle operators under 18 and those who hold a "novice license" must wear a helmet.11,714,618
OklahomaAge RequirementOklahoma law requires only those motorcycle operators and passengers under 18 to wear helmets.3,990,443
OregonAll Riders4,289,439
PennsylvaniaAge RequirementAll motorcycle operators and riders under 21 must wear helmets.12,804,123
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.1,061,509
South CarolinaAge RequirementAll motorcycle operators and passengers under 21 must wear a helmet.5,277,830
South DakotaAge RequirementSouth Dakota law requires all motorcycle operators and passengers under 18 to wear a helmet.896,581
TennesseeAll Riders6,944,260
TexasAge RequirementAll motorcycle operators and riders less than 21 required to wear helmets.29,730,311
UtahAge RequirementIn Utah, motorcycle operators and riders under 18 must wear a helmet.3,310,774
VermontAll Riders623,251
VirginiaAll Riders8,603,985
WashingtonAll Riders7,796,941
West VirginiaAll Riders1,767,859
WisconsinAge RequirementWisconsin law requires all motorcycle operators under 18 or those operators holding an instructional permit to wear a helmet.5,852,490
WyomingAge RequirementIn Wyoming, only those motorcycle drivers and passengers under 18 are required to wear helmets.581,075

Helmet Law States 2021