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Understanding California motorcycle helmet laws

Wearing a helmet can save your life in a motorcycle accident. The state of California agrees with this statement, because there is a law in place that requires motorcyclists and passengers to wear a helmet.

You can read the specific California code online, but we've highlighted the most important details for you.

Helmets must be compliant

Not only must riders where a helmet, the helmet must be compliant with specific standards. It's not good enough to simply have a helmet on your head; you must have the right helmet. Look for helmets that have specific certifications that meet the safety regulations standards. The manufacturer should clearly label helmets that are acceptable.

Passengers must wear a helmet too

The law does not only apply to drivers. Passengers are also required to be wearing helmets that meet the appropriate standards. It is also illegal for a passenger to ride with a driver who is not wearing a helmet. Both riders must have a helmet on at all times.


The penalty for not wearing a helmet is generally a citation. You will likely have to pay a fine if you are not wearing a helmet, or are wearing one that does not meet safety standards.

Why the law exists

This law is in place, very simply, to protect motorcyclists. Statistics show that riding a motorcycle without a helmet is significantly more dangerous. The motorcycle helmet law is in place to protect riders from the dangers of riding without a helmet.

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