|What is transpiring in Nevada spells out exactly why helmet laws based on Federal Motor Vehical Safety Standard FMVSS 218 are impossible to compy with or even enforce. Unlike other states, particularly California, where the legislature, law enforcement and the courts have turned a deaf ear to the facts and our challenges, it seems that at least in Nevada, there is hope. Real hope... -- EDITOR
Nevada Attorney General
on Nevada Helmet Law
November 15, 2002
By Richard Quigley, HLDL
So I'm sitting at the computer one night when I get an e-mail from [Steven] Shmerler ("bikersrights.com") who tells me there's this girl that wants him to come to Battle Mountain, Nevada and participate in a Freedom run.
By a series of events I don't recall, I ended up going to the Freedom run in May 2001, along with a couple of my compadres, while Shmerler was stuck in LA working on some project he couldn't break away from.
When we got there, Jackie Suthers, and her husband Ted, were as advertised. The run went off without a ripple . . . save for the turnout, but that's another story.
Anyway, after a great day and a great ride across a chunk of Nevada desert, we were just a couple miles from arriving back at Battle Mountain when one of Nevada's finest pulled us over.
The whole story's too long. I may eventually write it, but most important to this presentation are two things that happened that day: One, Konrad Jagst, Jackie, Ted and I were cited for not wearing "D-O-T approved" helmets; and two, I was told that I could not ride away without first finding, and then wearing, a "D-O-T approved helmet." This was great stuff! I put the chopper into the back of a pickup and took a ride back to town, thus ending phase one.
When I got back to California, I contacted the court about how to proceed with the ticket(s). Again it's a long story, but what's important is that all four tickets -- mine, Konrad's, Jackie's and Ted's -- were dismissed by the court on a motion by the district attorney. That opportunity to challenge the constitutionality of the Nevada statute was gone. Phase two, finished.
I then e-mailed the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (NDMV) to find out what I could have done to prevent being un-horsed 500 miles from home, and what I could do to keep it from happening again.
After a genuine, yet failed, attempt to answer my question, NDMV Director Ginny Lewis turned the matter over to her Superior, Richard Kirkland (not sure the title, but the head adminstrator of the Nevada Department of Transportaion, which includes both the DMV and the Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP).)
Kirkland referred the matter to the Chief of the Nevada Highway Patrol, Colonel David Hosmer. He too attempted to answer the question, but could not. On June 21, 2002, Hosmer notified me that he had submitted the problem to the Nevada Attorney General's office with a request for a legal opinion. (An Attorney General's Opinion is not binding on the court, but is to be given great weight. Further, as the chief prosecutor for the State, his opinion is virtually binding on all prosecutors. And, of course, they are counsel for the NHP.)
On November 5, 2002, an Opinion responding to Colonel Hosmer's inquiry, was published by the Nevada Attorney General. (Click here to read the AG's Opinion). As you read the opinion, please keep in mind that this is the best they can do . . . the absolute best they can do to answer my question: "How can a motorcyclist comply, with certainty, with the provisions of Nevada's helmet law?"
To be continued . . .
A MUST READ: NEVADA Attorney General's Helmet Law Opinion
This article printed with permission and courtesy of the Helmet Law Defense League. Special thanks to Richard "Quig" Quigley of HLDL, Jackie and Ted Suthers of Nevada and of course, Steve Bianco.