California Motorcycle Helmet Law

Mandatory Motorcycle Helmet LawCalifornia Motorcycle Helmet Law

STATUTE:

California Vehicle Code, Division 12, Chapter 5, Article 7, Section 27803.“(a) A driver and any passenger shall wear a safety helmet meeting requirements established pursuant to Section 27802 when riding on a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle. “(b) It is unlawful to operate a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle if the driver or any passenger is not wearing a safety helmet as required by subdivision (a). “(c) It is unlawful to ride as a passenger on a motorcycle, motor-driven cycles, or motorized bicycle if the driver or any passenger is not wearing a safety helmet as required by subdivision (a). “(d) This section applies to persons who are riding on motorcycles, motor-driven cycles, or motorized bicycles operated on the highways. “(e) For the purposes of this section, ‘wear a safety helmet’ or ‘wearing a safety helmet’ means having a safety helmet meeting the requirements of Section 27802 (see :Standards” below) on the person’s head that is fastened with the helmet straps and that is of a size that fits the wearing person’s head securely without excessive lateral or vertical movement. “(f) In enacting this section, it is the intent of the Legislature to ensure that all persons are provided with an additional safety benefit while operating or riding a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle.”

FINE:

In California . . . it depends on who you ask.The LAW says (in pertinent part):

Section 40303.5:

    “Whenever any person is arrested for any of the following offenses, the arresting officer shall permit the arrested person to execute a notice containing a promise to correct the violation in accordance with the provisions of 40610 unless the arresting officer finds that any of the disqualifying conditions specified in the subdivision (b) of Section 40610 exist: . . . (d) Any infraction involving equipment set forth in Division 12 (commencing with Section 240000) . . . (Note: which includes section 27803, the helmet law.)”

Section 40610(b) states:

“Pursuant to subdivision (a), a notice to correct violation shall be issued as provided in this section . . . unless the officer finds any of the following:

“(1) Evidence of fraud or persistent neglect.”(2) The violation presents an immediate safety hazard.”(3) The violator does not agree to, or cannot, promptly correct the violation.”

Therefore, a violation of California’s helmet law is — as a matter or Law according to the language of the statutes — an equipment violation, and carries with it only a need to show “proof of correction” and the payment of a $10 fine. However, . . .

The CHP (California Highway Patrol) says:

CHP Enforcement Bulletin #42, issued in May, 1994, states that a violation of CVC 27803 constitutes an “immediate safety hazard” and is therefore not correctable as provided in Section 40303.5 (see above). The California Judicial Council affirmed this edict, and for the most part the California courts pretty much disregard everything but the wishes of the CHP . . . and that includes disregarding the Law.

So, the fine for violation of California’s helmet law can be anything from $10 and “proof of correction” up to $250.00 and one year’s probation. It all depends on who you ask!

STANDARDS:

California Vehicle Code, Division 12, Chapter 5, Article 7, Section 27802.

“(a) The department may adopt reasonable regulations establishing specifications and standards for safety helmets offered for sale, or sold, for use by drivers and passengers of motorcycles and motorized bicycles as it determines are necessary for the safety of those drivers and passengers. The regulations shall include, but are not limited to, the requirements imposed by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218 (49 C.F.R. Sec. 571.218) and may include compliance with that federal standard by incorporation of its requirements by reference. Each helmet sold or offered for sale for use by drivers and passengers of motorcycles and motorized bicycles shall be conspicuously labeled in accordance with the federal standard which shall constitute the manufacturer’s certification that the helmet conforms to the applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards. “(b) No person shall sell, or offer for sale, for use by a driver or passenger of a motorcycle or motorized bicycle any safety helmet which is not of a type meeting requirements established by the department.”

COURT DECISIONS:

” . . . it is clear the law requires only that the consumer wear a helmet bearing a certification of compliance.” Buhl v. Hannigan 16 Cal.App. 4th 1612 (1993).” . . . the statement in Buhl that consumer compliance with the state law only requires the consumer to wear a helmet bearing the DOT self-certification sticker does not apply when a helmet has been shown not to conform with federal standards and the consumer has actual knowledge of this fact.” Bianco v. California Highway Patrol, 24 Cal.App. 4th 1113 (1994).

“The courts held that citations should only be issued in two situations: (1) when a helmet was not certified by the manufacturer at the time of sale or (2) when a rider wearing a helmet certified by the manufacturer at the time of sale has actual knowledge of a showing of a determination of non-conformity with federal standards. . . . or (3) Other competent objective evidence from independent laboratory testing that the helmet does not meet FMVSS 218.” Easyriders v. Hannigan (887 F.SUPP. 240).

CURRENT ACTIVITY:

AB 1200 – Helmet Mod bill 18 and over with medical insurance. Author: Assemblyman John Longville (D) of Riverside.

Jan. 12, 2004 – Failed Trans Comm 9 to 10. Needed 11 to pass out of committee. Controversial Organ donor amendment was struck prior to vote per Longville.Mar. 06 – Referred to Com. on TRANS.Feb. 24 – Read first time.Feb. 23 – From printer. May be heard in committee March 25.Feb. 21 – Introduced. To print.

PAST ACTIVITY:

May 30, 2002 – AB 2700 Helmet Mod bill defeated in House.

April 18, 2002 – HR 2700 – Amended – with 1,000,000 insurance rider. Outrageous!

April 1, 2002 – HR 43 – Resolved that May 2002 deemed Motorcycle Safety Awareness month.

Feb 22, 2002 – HR 2700 – Introduced – Helmet Mod Bill. 21 and over.

April 17, 2001 – SB 1057 – Helmet Mod Bill that would limit the current mandatory helmet provisions to riders and passengers 17 years of age or less. | Bill Text

May 18, 1999 – SB 1197, failed in the Senate Trans Committee 3-yes to 2-no. Seven votes needed to proceed. ABATE plans to bring it back in January.

AB 975, the CMSP bill, is being held in the Assembly Appropriations Suspense File, pending the completion of the budget, and is going to be included in the State Budget.

AB 1515, Vet’s motorcycle license plates, passed out of the Assembly on consent, and is headed for Senate Transportation, where it will face a tough fight.

May 11, 1999 – SB 1197– Repeal Bill withdrawn by ABATEPC.

Feb 26, 1999 – SB 1197– A bill to repeal the California Helmet Law entirely. This is not a modification bill. Author: Senator Bill Morrow. Principal coauthors: Assembly members Brett Granlund (R) and Rico Oller (R), Dennis Cardoza (D) and Denise Ducheny (D).

SB 1197, as introduced, Morrow. Motorcycles: helmets. Under existing law, it is unlawful for any person to operate a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle if the driver or any passenger is not wearing a safety helmet. Existing law also makes it unlawful to ride as a passenger on a motorcycle if the driver or any passenger is not wearing a safety helmet. This bill would repeal these provisions. Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: no.

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