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Am I required to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle in Illinois?

The significant rise in motorcycle accident cases over the last few decades can be attributed to many causes: economic, social, building, etc.  Urban congestion is always the first place to look but there are other important justifications the use of helmets.  Out of these incidents, people ask us over and over again what are the rules to follow?  This is especially the case with helmets and motorcyclists.  Here are some critical questions and answers.



WHAT IS THE GENERAL RULE WITH HELMETS AND MOTORCYCLES IN ILLINOIS?

required to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycleRight now, the federal government has not passed legislation requiring people to wear helmets while they ride motorcycles.  Over the last few decades, however, states have taken it upon themselves to ensure that riders are protecting their heads.  Almost 20 states and D.C. have passed laws mandating that all motorcycle riders wear helmets.  Other states (28) have passed laws mandating that some sets of the population wear helmets, generally based on age.  Finally, three states (Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire) have not passed any legislation on the subject.  Here is a sample law from New York regarding the usage of a helmet while riding a motorcycle:

Chapter 71 of the Consolidated Laws. Title III–Safety Responsibility; Financial Security; Inspection; Size and Weight, and Other Provisions. Article 9–Equipment of Motor Vehicles and Motorcycles. Section 381. Motorcycle Equipment.:

“. . . 6. It shall be unlawful for any person to operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless he wears a protective helmet of a type which meets the requirements set forth in section 571.218 of the federal motor vehicle safety standards as may from time to time be amended. . . .”

WHAT ARE DIFFERENT STATES LAWS REGARDING HELMETS AND MOTORCYCLES?

State Motorcycle Helmet Requirement Governs Motorcycle Helmet Law Covers All Low-Power Cycles
Ala. All riders Yes
Alaska 17 and youngera Yes
Ariz. 17 and younger All low-power cycles with an engine displacement greater than 50 cc, brake horsepower greater than 1.5, or ability to attain speeds greater than 25 mph are covered by the motorcycle helmet law.
Ark. 20 and younger Yes
Calif. All riders Yes
Colo. 17 and younger and passengers 17 and younger Yes
Conn. 17 and younger Yes
Del. 18 and youngerb All low-power cycles except motorized scooters are covered by the motorcycle helmet law; bicycle helmet is acceptable for a motorized scooter.
D.C. All riders All low-power cycles with an engine displacement greater than 50 cc, brake horsepower greater than 1.5, or ability to attain speeds greater than 35 mph are covered by the motorcycle helmet law.
Fla. 20 and youngerc All low-power cycles with an engine displacement greater than 50 cc, brake horsepower greater than 2, or ability to attain speeds greater than 30 mph and all low-power cycles operated by those 15 and younger are covered by the motorcycle helmet law.
Ga. All riders All low-power cycles are covered by the motorcycle helmet law except that bicycle helmets are acceptable for electric-assisted bicycles.
Hawaii 17 and younger All low-power cycles with an engine displacement greater than 50 cc, brake horsepower greater than 2, or ability to attain speeds greater than 30 mph are covered by the motorcycle helmet law.
Idaho 17 and younger All low-power cycles with an engine displacement greater than 50 cc, brake horsepower greater than 5, or ability to attain speeds greater than 30 mph are covered by the motorcycle helmet law.
Ill. No law No law
Ind. 17 and younger Yes
Iowa No law No law
Kan. 17 and younger All low-power cycles except electric-assisted bicycles are covered by the motorcycle helmet law.
Ky. 20 and youngerd All low-power cycles with an engine displacement greater than 50 cc, brake horsepower greater than 2, or ability to attain speeds greater than 30 mph are covered by the motorcycle helmet law.
La. All riders Yes
Maine 17 and youngere All low-power cycles with an engine displacement greater than 50 cc or more than 1,500 watts are covered by the motorcycle helmet law.
Md. All riders All low-power cycles designed to travel at speeds exceeding 35 mph, scooters with engine displacement greater than 50 cc or brake horsepower greater than 2.7, and mopeds with an engine displacement greater than 50 cc or brake horsepower greater than 1.5 are covered by the motorcycle helmet law.
Mass. All riders Yes
Mich. All riders All low-power cycles with an engine displacement greater than 50 cc, brake horsepower greater than 2, or ability to attain speeds greater than 30 mph and all low-power cycles operated by those 18 and younger are covered by the motorcycle helmet law.
Minn. 17 and youngerf Yes
Miss. All riders Yes
Mo. All riders All low-power cycles with an engine displacement greater than 50 cc, brake horsepower greater than 3, or ability to attain speeds greater than 30 mph are covered by the motorcycle helmet law.
Mont. 17 and younger All low-power cycles with an engine displacement greater than 50 cc, brake horsepower greater than 2, or ability to attain speeds greater than 30 mph are covered by the motorcycle helmet law.
Neb. All riders Yes
Nev. All riders All low-power cycles with an engine displacement greater than 50 cc, brake horsepower greater than 2, or ability to attain speeds greater than 30 mph are covered by the motorcycle helmet law.
N.H. No law No law
N.J. All riders Yes
N.M. 17 and younger All low-power cycles with an engine displacement greater than 50 cc or ability to attain speeds greater than 30 mph are covered by the motorcycle helmet law.
N.Y. All riders All low-power cycles designed to travel at speeds of 20 mph or greater are covered by the motorcycle helmet law.
N.C. All riders Yes
N.D. 17 and youngerg Yes
Ohio 17 and youngerh Yes
Okla. 17 and younger All low-power cycles are covered by the motorcycle helmet law except that bicycle helmets are acceptable for electric-assisted bicycles operated by those 18 and younger.
Ore. All riders Yes
Pa. 20 and youngeri All low-power cycles with an engine displacement greater than 50 cc, brake horsepower greater than 1.5, or ability to attain speeds greater than 25 mph are covered by the motorcycle helmet law.
R.I. 20 and youngerj All low-power cycles with an engine displacement greater than 50 cc, brake horsepower greater than 4.9, or ability to attain speeds greater than 30 mph are covered by the motorcycle helmet law.
S.C. 20 and younger Yes
S.D. 17 and younger Yes
Tenn. All riders Yes
Texas 20 and youngerk Yes
Utah 17 and younger Yes
Vt. All riders All low-power cycles with an engine displacement greater than 50 cc, brake horsepower greater than 2, or ability to attain speeds greater than 30 mph are covered by the motorcycle helmet law.
Va. All riders All low-power cycles operated at speeds greater than 35 mph or with an engine displacement greater than 50 cc are covered by the motorcycle helmet law.
Wash. All riders Yes
W.Va. All riders All low-power cycles with an engine displacement greater than 50 cc, brake horsepower greater than 2, or ability to attain speeds greater than 30 mph are covered by the motorcycle helmet law.
Wis. 17 and youngerl All low-power cycles designed to travel at speeds exceeding 30 mph and type 1 motorcycles with automatic transmission with an engine displacement greater than 50 cc are covered by the motorcycle helmet law.
Wyo. 17 and younger All low-power cycles with an engine displacement greater than 50 cc, brake horsepower greater than 2, or ability to attain speeds greater than 30 mph are covered by the motorcycle helmet law.

For more information, see http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/calculator/factsheet/mchelmet.html

WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR BREAKING MOTORCYCLE HELMET LAWS?

How much trouble can you get in if you do not wear a helmet while on a motorcycle if your state requires it?  Generally, the penalty in most states is just a fine.  Also, the fine is normally not that large.  Yet, there are obviously compelling reasons to wear one regardless of the financial incentive.  Here is an example law from New York outlining the punishment for not wearing a helmet:

Chapter 71 of the Consolidated Laws. Title III–Safety Responsibility; Financial Security; Inspection; Size and Weight, and Other Provisions. Article 9–Equipment of Motor Vehicles and Motorcycles. Section 381. Motorcycle Equipment.

“. . . 13. A violation of any of the provisions of this section shall be punishable by a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not exceeding thirty days, or by both such fine and imprisonment.”

WHAT IS ILLINOIS’ RULE WITH HELMETS?

Presently, there is no law in Illinois mandating that anyone wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle.  Yet, some citizens have urged state government to take action and mandate that all drivers of motorcycles wear helmets for their protection.  Even some cities have taken action on the subject.  Follow the news to see if you will one day be required to wear a helmet while riding through Illinois on a motorcycle.

DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS REGARDING AN ILLINOIS MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT CASE?

If you or a loved one was injured in an Illinois motorcycle crash, we invite you to contact our office for a free consultation with our attorneys. We represent injured motorcyclists on a contingency fee basis where there is a legal fee charged only when there is a recovery for you. Our law firm has represented 1000’s of motorcylists and knows the in’s-and-out’s of how insurance companies evaluate these cases in order to secure the maximum recovery for you.

For more information on questions related to Motorcycle Accidents please visit the following pages: