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Does Your State Require Motorcyclists to Wear a Helmet?

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Despite the fact that helmets help prevent 37% of motorcycle deaths and 67% of brain injuries resulting from a crash, not every state requires motorcyclists to wear them. At The News Wheel, we recommend every motorcyclist wear a helmet to improve their safety. If you’re a motorcyclist, it’s important to know the laws about helmet and motorcycle safety. We’ve put together a list of each state’s helmet laws for licensed motorcyclists. Keep in mind that all helmets must meet the requirements set by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

States marked with an * have exceptions to the rule, listed on the last tab.


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States with Mandatory Helmet Laws

The following states require all motorcyclists to wear a helmet, regardless of age:

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Georgia
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Washington D.C.
  • West Virginia

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States with Under 21 Restrictions

The following states require all motorcyclists under the age of 21 to wear a helmet:

  • Arkansas
  • Florida*
  • Kentucky*
  • Michigan*
  • Pennsylvania*
  • Rhode Island*
  • South Carolina
  • Texas*
  • Utah

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States with Under 18 Restrictions

The following states require all motorcyclists under the age of 18 to wear a helmet:

  • Alaska*
  • Arizona*
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware*
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Kansas*
  • Maine*
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma*
  • South Dakota
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

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States with No Helmet Laws

The following states do not require motorcyclists to wear a helmet:

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Exceptions to the Rules

While most of the laws are state-wide, there are exceptions for the following states:

  • Alaska: All passengers must wear a helmet, regardless of age.
  • Arizona: All passengers must wear a helmet, regardless of age.
  • Delaware: If you are under 19, you must wear a helmet. All motorcyclists must have a helmet with them, even if they’re not wearing it.
  • Florida: If you are over 21, you can ride without a helmet if you have an insurance policy exceeding $20,000 in medical benefits.
  • Kansas: If you are under 18, you must wear both a helmet and eye protection.
  • Kentucky: If you have had your motorcycle license for less than a year, regardless of age, you must wear a helmet.
  • Maine: If you have had your motorcycle license for less than a year, regardless of age, you must wear a helmet.
  • Michigan: If you are over 21, you can ride without a helmet if you have an insurance policy exceeding $20,000 in medical benefits and have passed an approved safety course/had your license more than 2 years.
  • Oklahoma: All passengers must wear a helmet, regardless of age.
  • Pennsylvania: If you are over 21, you can ride without a helmet if you have 2 years of driving experience or you have completed an approved safety course.
  • Rhode Island: If you have had your motorcycle license for less than a year, regardless of age, you must wear a helmet.
  • Texas: If you are over 21, you can ride without a helmet if your insurance plan covers medical treatment for an accident.

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Sources: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, DMV