Motorcycle helmets are generally required for all riders and passengers in California. California has a mandatory helmet law, which means that anyone operating or riding as a passenger on a motorcycle must wear an approved helmet at all times while the motorcycle is in motion. The helmet must meet the safety standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
Keep in mind that laws and regulations can change, so it’s a good idea to check with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or another official source to get the most up-to-date information on motorcycle helmet requirements in California. Additionally, it’s always a wise safety choice to wear a helmet regardless of the legal requirements, as helmets can significantly reduce the risk of head injuries in motorcycle accidents.
What laws in California pertain to motorcycle helmet usage?
In California, the laws pertaining to motorcycle helmet usage can be found in the California Vehicle Code, specifically under Section 27803. This section outlines the requirements for wearing helmets while operating or riding as a passenger on a motorcycle. Here are some key points regarding motorcycle helmet usage in California:
- Helmet Requirement: All motorcycle riders and passengers must wear an approved helmet that complies with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) standards. The helmet should have a DOT sticker or label indicating compliance.
- Helmet Retention Straps: The law also specifies that the helmet must be fastened with the retention straps securely fastened while the motorcycle is in motion.
It’s essential to note that laws and regulations can change over time, so it’s a good practice to check the most current information on motorcycle helmet laws from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or consult the latest version of the California Vehicle Code for any updates or changes to these regulations. Additionally, always prioritize safety and consider wearing a helmet even if you meet the exemption criteria, as helmets significantly reduce the risk of head injuries in motorcycle accidents.
What does California Vehicle Code § 27803 say?
- VC § 27803.
- A driver and any passenger shall wear a safety helmet meeting requirements established pursuant to Section 27802 when riding on a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle.
- It is unlawful to operate a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle if the driver or any passenger is not wearing a safety helmet as required by subdivision (a).
- It is unlawful to ride as a passenger on a motorcycle, motor-driven cycles, or motorized bicycle if the driver or any passenger is not wearing a safety helmet as required by subdivision (a).
- This section applies to persons who are riding on motorcycles, motor-driven cycles, or motorized bicycles operated on the highways.
- For the purposes of this section, “wear a safety helmet” or “wearing a safety helmet” means having a safety helmet meeting the requirements of Section 27802 on the person’s head that is fastened with the helmet straps and that is of a size that fits the wearing person’s head securely without excessive lateral or vertical movement.
- This section does not apply to a person operating, or riding as a passenger in, a fully enclosed three-wheeled motor vehicle that is not less than seven feet in length and not less than four feet in width, and has an unladen weight of 900 pounds or more, if the vehicle meets or exceeds all of the requirements of this code, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, and the rules and regulations adopted by the United States Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- In enacting this section, it is the intent of the Legislature to ensure that all persons are provided with an additional safety benefit while operating or riding a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle”
What are the potential legal consequences for not wearing a motorcycle helmet in California?
Failing to wear a motorcycle helmet in California when required by law can result in legal consequences. Here are the potential legal consequences for not wearing a motorcycle helmet in California:
- Traffic Violation: Not wearing a helmet when required by law is considered a traffic violation. Specifically, it is a violation of California Vehicle Code Section 27803.
- Traffic Ticket: If you are caught riding a motorcycle without a helmet, you may receive a traffic ticket from law enforcement officers. The ticket typically includes a fine, which can vary depending on the specific circumstances and location but is typically several hundred dollars.
- Points on Your Driving Record: In addition to the fine, a violation for not wearing a motorcycle helmet may result in points being added to your driving record. Accumulating too many points on your record can lead to higher insurance premiums and potential issues with your driving privileges.
- Insurance Implications: Fines and points on your driving record can lead to increased insurance premiums, making motorcycle insurance more expensive if you are found to be in violation of helmet laws.
- Safety Risk: Perhaps the most significant consequence of not wearing a motorcycle helmet is the increased risk of severe injury or death in the event of an accident. Helmets are designed to protect riders’ heads, and not wearing one puts you at a much higher risk of head injuries in a crash.
- Exemption Challenges: If you claim an exemption from the helmet law based on age and qualifications (having a motorcycle license for at least two years or completing an approved safety course), you may be asked to provide proof of your qualifications if you are stopped by law enforcement.
It’s essential to prioritize safety and adhere to the helmet laws in California, as helmets significantly reduce the risk of head injuries in motorcycle accidents. Even if you meet the exemption criteria, consider the potential consequences and the importance of protecting yourself by wearing an approved helmet while riding a motorcycle. Additionally, be aware that laws and penalties can change, so it’s advisable to check with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or legal authorities for the most up-to-date information on helmet-related penalties and fines.
Sikhs may soon no longer have to wear helmets in California
On February 17, 2023, California State Senator Brian Dahle introduced Senate Bill 847 within the legislative chamber. The content of this bill outlines proposed amendments to Section 27803 of California’s current Vehicle Code, which pertains to the helmet requirements for motorcyclists, operators of motor-driven cycles, and users of motorized bicycles. If approved in its current form, the bill aims to introduce an exemption in California’s vehicle code for members of the Sikh faith.
Following its introduction, the bill underwent the necessary scrutiny within Senate committees before being subjected to three readings on the Senate floor for consideration by its members. On May 31, 2023, it secured passage in the state senate with a vote count of 21 in favor and eight against. The next procedural step for the bill is its transfer to the California State Assembly.
As of June 1, 2023, Section 27803 of the California Vehicle Code stipulates that “a driver and any passenger must wear a safety helmet meeting requirements established pursuant to Section 27802 when riding on a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle.” It proceeds to delineate specific provisions for both operators and passengers, while also excluding operators and passengers of fully enclosed three-wheeled motor vehicles that exceed seven feet in length, are over four feet in width, and weigh more than 900 pounds.
The proposed amendment introduces a new subsection (g) directly below the exception for operators of these three-wheeled vehicles, which reads as follows: “This section does not apply to a driver or passenger who wears a turban or patka as an expression of the person’s religious belief and practice when riding on a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle.”
Both Sikh turbans and patkas hold significant religious importance for Sikh adherents. According to the Sikh Coalition, “Sikhs maintain long hair and wear a turban as a symbol of their commitment to Sikh values and to readily identify themselves as Sikhs.” For those less familiar with the terminology, the definition provided by the Sikh Coalition describes a patka as “a smaller version of a Sikh turban, typically worn by boys from pre-kindergarten to middle school before transitioning to a full-sized turban.”
As of today this bill is still being debated in the Senate, but could be implemented or defeated in 2024. We will update this article as more information becomes available.
What to do if you have been injured in a motorcycle accident in California?
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident in California, it’s important to take the following steps to ensure your safety, protect your legal rights, and seek appropriate compensation for your injuries:
- Seek Medical Attention: Your health and safety should be your top priority. Even if your injuries seem minor, it’s essential to seek immediate medical attention. Some injuries may not be apparent right away, and prompt medical evaluation can document your injuries for legal purposes.
- Contact Law Enforcement: Report the accident to the police. Law enforcement officers will create an accident report, which can be crucial for insurance claims and legal proceedings.
- Gather Information: If you’re able to do so safely, collect information from the scene, including:
- Names and contact information of all parties involved (drivers, passengers, witnesses).
- Insurance information of the other driver(s).
- Vehicle license plate numbers.
- Photos of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and your injuries.
- Preserve Evidence: If possible, preserve any evidence related to the accident. This includes keeping damaged clothing, your motorcycle, and any other physical evidence that may be relevant to your case.
- Notify Your Insurance Company: Contact your insurance company to report the accident. Provide them with the necessary information and cooperate with their investigation.
- Consult an Attorney: Consider consulting a personal injury attorney experienced in motorcycle accidents. An attorney can help protect your rights, negotiate with insurance companies, and pursue legal action if necessary.
- Document Your Injuries and Treatment: Keep detailed records of your medical treatment, including doctor visits, prescriptions, and therapy sessions. These records will be essential for establishing the extent of your injuries and calculating damages.
- Notify Your Employer: If your injuries require time off from work, inform your employer as soon as possible and follow their policies for reporting absences.
- Do Not Admit Fault: Be cautious about what you say to others at the accident scene and when speaking with insurance companies. Avoid admitting fault or making statements that could be used against you.
- Follow Medical Advice: Comply with your healthcare provider’s instructions and attend all recommended medical appointments. This will not only aid in your recovery but also strengthen your case.
- Consider Your Legal Options: Depending on the circumstances of the accident and the extent of your injuries, you may be eligible to pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. Your attorney can guide you through this process.
- Review Your Insurance Coverage: Understand your insurance coverage and any potential benefits, such as medical payments coverage or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, that may apply to your situation.
Remember that motorcycle accidents can be complex, and the legal process can be challenging to navigate on your own. J&Y Law Firm in Los Angeles, CA has decades of experience representing motorcyclists who have been injured through no fault of their own in California to receive the compensation and justice they deserve. Call our office today at (877) 862-4317 for a free consultation about your unique situation. We look forward to helping you today.