Motorcycles are popular throughout the state, and it is essential for every rider to know their rights and responsibilities on the road. Motorcycle laws differ from state to state, and California is relatively strict compared to the laws of some other states, especially when it comes to helmet requirements. Generally, every motorcycle rider and passenger must have an appropriately fitted and Department of Transportation (DoT) compliant helmet; otherwise, they not only risk a fine but also more serious injuries should an accident occur.

Motorcycle accidents are less common than car accidents only because there are fewer motorcycles on roads than passenger vehicles. While less frequent than other types of crashes, motorcycle accidents tend to result in far worse injuries, and the risk of catastrophic or fatal injury is much greater when a rider does not have an appropriate helmet.

California Motorcycle Helmet Laws 2023

Meeting California’s Motorcycle Helmet Law

If you own and ride a motorcycle, you must use a helmet that meets the DoT’s safety requirements, and this means purchasing a helmet that has the manufacturer’s seal of certification for DoT compliance. Generally, the criteria for a helmet to be DoT-compliant include:

  • An outer shell made of fiberglass or other resin/fiber composite.
  • A polystyrene foam lining at least one inch thick.
  • A comfort liner inside of the helmet that includes an additional layer of energy-absorbing polystyrene.
  • A face shield that can open and close to protect the rider’s eyes and face without restricting vision.
  • A face and chin protector, meaning the helmet must be a full helmet that completely encases the wearer’s head.
  • Strong rivets that secure the chin strap in place. The helmet must have a chin strap that keeps it secured over the rider’s head.
  • An overall weight of at least three pounds.

It is important to remember that a helmet may appear to meet these requirements without actually being DoT-compliant. It is essential that you check for the seal of DoT certification on the product package before purchasing it. Helmets are also required to have appropriate indicators on the products themselves.

What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident in California?

A motorcycle accident has a high chance of resulting in catastrophic or fatal injury, even if the rider wears an appropriate DoT-certified helmet. If you or a family member is hurt in a motorcycle accident that another driver caused, motorcycle accident attorneys in Orange County, CA, can help determine your most viable options for recovering your losses. The recovery process will begin by proving fault for the accident. Once you identify the driver responsible for the crash, you can file a claim against their auto insurance policy, which every driver in California is legally required to have.

Motorcycle accidents tend to be damaging, and your claimable losses could exceed the limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. In this situation, the injured rider has the right to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver, seeking compensation for any damages that insurance won’t cover. Having legal counsel to assist you with these proceedings will significantly improve your chances of maximizing your recovery.

FAQs About Motorcycle Helmet Law in California

Q: What Are the Requirements for Wearing a Helmet While Riding a Motorcycle?

A: Helmets are legally required for motorcycle riders, but not just any helmet will do. A motorcycle helmet must meet DoT safety requirements to be street-legal. The helmet must have official manufacturer certification that it is fully compliant with all DoT regulations. According to the most recently available accident data, helmets significantly reduce the risk of a fatal head injury and can reduce the severity of head injuries when they occur.

Q: Is It Legal to Attach a GoPro to Your Helmet While Riding?

A: State guidelines for motorcycle helmets allow riders to stick decorations onto their helmet, but nothing longer than 5 mm may be attached to the helmet. Because a GoPro is longer than 5 mm, attaching one to a motorcycle helmet would technically make the helmet non-compliant. It would be legal, however, to attach a GoPro to the motorcycle itself as long as the camera does not interfere with the rider’s ability to operate the vehicle’s controls in any way.

Q: What Is the Penalty for Violating the Motorcycle Helmet Law?

A: The standard penalty for riding a motorcycle without a helmet or without a DoT-compliant helmet is $250. However, if the rider was also breaking additional laws, they could face harsher penalties. For example, speeding while riding without a helmet can lead to a heavier fine or even a reckless driving charge.

Q: Can I Wear a Half Helmet?

A: A half helmet is a helmet that only covers the top of the head, as opposed to a full-face helmet that covers the face and eyes as well. As long as the half helmet meets DoT safety certification, it is legal to wear one while riding. However, the rider must also have eye protection because a half helmet will not have a face shield like a full-face helmet.

Q: Can I Sue for a Motorcycle Accident?

A: If another driver causes a motorcycle accident with you, you have the same right to pursue compensation for your damages as you would after any other vehicle accident. Recovery from a motorcycle accident will usually start with an auto insurance claim against the at-fault driver, and if this claim does not yield full compensation for your damages, you can proceed with filing a personal injury suit against the at-fault driver. An experienced attorney can guide you through all your recovery efforts after a motorcycle accident someone else caused.

The attorneys at Easton & Easton have helped many motorcycle accident victims recover, and we know the value of wearing an appropriately fitted and DoT-compliant motorcycle helmet. If you or a loved one has recently been injured in an accident and you have legal questions you cannot answer on your own, contact us today and schedule a consultation with our team to learn how we can help you recover.