Helmet Laws State by State
Courtesy Of The "Insurance Institute for Highway Safety"

HELMET USE LAWS
as of July 2003

By the early 1970s, virtually all states had laws requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets. But Illinois repealed its law in 1970 and, by 1980, most states had abandoned or substantially limited theirs -- usually restricting coverage to riders younger than 18. Legislators in some states later reinstated helmet laws so that all but 4 states now require some or all motorcyclists to wear helmets. (Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire don't have helmet laws.) Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Texas have changed their laws covering all riders to apply only to young riders. Helmet use rates approach 100 percent in 20 states and the District of Columbia where motorcycle helmet laws apply to all riders, but the laws in 27 states that apply only to some cyclists aren't effective.

Bicycle helmets also prevent injuries, but no state has a universal bicycle helmet law. Only 17 states and the District of Columbia have statewide bicycle helmet laws, and they apply only to young riders. Local ordinances in a few states require bicycle helmets for some or all riders.

State

Motorcycle Riders
Covered by Helmet Law

Bicycle Riders
Covered by Helmet Law

Alabama

all riders

riders younger than 16

Alaska

17 yrs. and younger1

no law

Arizona

17 yrs. and younger

no law

Arkansas

20 yrs. and younger

no law

California

all riders

riders younger than 18

Colorado

no helmet use laws

Connecticut

17 yrs. and younger

riders younger than 16

Delaware

18 yrs. and younger

riders younger than 16

District of Columbia

all riders

riders younger than 16 

Florida

20 yrs. and younger2

riders younger than 16

State

Motorcycle Riders
Covered by Helmet Law

Bicycle Riders
Covered by Helmet Law

Georgia

all riders

riders younger than 16

Hawaii

17 yrs. and younger

riders younger than 16

Idaho

17 yrs. and younger

no law 

Illinois

  no helmet use laws

Indiana

17 yrs. and younger

no law

Iowa

  no helmet use laws

Kansas

17 yrs. and younger

no law

Kentucky

20 yrs. and younger2,3

no law

Louisiana

all riders

riders younger than 12

Maine

14 yrs. and younger4

riders younger than 16

State

Motorcycle Riders
Covered by Helmet Law

Bicycle Riders
Covered by Helmet Law

Maryland

all riders

riders younger than 16

Massachusetts

all riders

riders older than 1 and younger than 135

Michigan

all riders

no law

Minnesota

17 yrs. and younger3

no law

Mississippi

all riders

no law

Missouri

all riders

no law

Montana

17 yrs. and younger

no law

Nebraska

all riders

no law

Nevada

all riders

no law

New Hampshire

no helmet use laws

State

Motorcycle Riders
Covered by Helmet Law

Bicycle Riders
Covered by Helmet Law

New Jersey

all riders

riders younger than 14

New Mexico

17 yrs. and younger

no law

New York

all riders

riders older than 1 and younger than 145

North Carolina

all riders

riders younger than 16

North Dakota

17 yrs. and younger6

no law

Ohio

17 yrs. and younger7

no law

Oklahoma

17 yrs. and younger

no law

Oregon

all riders

riders younger than 16

Pennsylvania

20 yrs. and younger8

riders younger than 12

Rhode Island

20 yrs. and younger8

riders younger than 16

State

Motorcycle Riders
Covered by Helmet Law

Bicycle Riders
Covered by Helmet Law

South Carolina

20 yrs. and younger

no law

South Dakota

17 yrs. and younger

no law

Tennessee

all riders

riders younger than 16

Texas

20 yrs. and younger2

no law

Utah

17 yrs. and younger

no law

Vermont

all riders

no law

Virginia

all riders

no law

Washington

all riders

no law

West Virginia

all riders

riders younger than 15

Wisconsin

17 yrs. and younger3

no law

Wyoming

18 yrs. and younger

no law

1Alaska's motorcycle helmet use law covers passengers of all ages, drivers younger than 18, and drivers with instructional permits.

2Florida, Kentucky, and Texas provide exceptions for riders over a certain age. In Florida and Kentucky, the law requires that all riders younger than 21 yrs. wear helmets, without exception. In Florida, those 21 yrs. and older may ride without helmets only if they can show proof that they are covered by a medical insurance policy. Louisiana's law allows riders 18 yrs. and older to ride without helmets if they can show proof that they are covered by a medical insurance policy. Texas exempts riders 21 yrs. or older if they either 1) can show proof of successfully completing a motorcycle operator training and safety course or 2) can show proof of having a medical insurance policy.

3Motorcycle helmet laws in Kentucky, Minnesota, and Wisconsin also cover drivers with instructional/learner's permits.

4Maine's motorcycle helmet use law covers passengers 14 years and younger, drivers with learner's permits, and passengers if their drivers are required to wear a helmet.

5Bicycle helmet use laws in Massachusetts and New York prohibit people from transporting passengers younger than age 1.

6North Dakota's motorcycle helmet use law covers all passengers traveling with drivers who are covered by the law.

7Ohio's motorcycle helmet use law covers all drivers during the first year of licensure and all passengers of drivers who are covered by the law

8Rhode Island's motorcycle helmet use law covers all drivers during the first year of licensure and all passengers. Pennsylvania's motorcycle hemlet use law covers all drivers during the first two years of licensure unless the driver has completed the safety course approved by the department or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.