On July 1, 2000, the current version of Florida’s helmet law was implemented. And in general, yes, you should always wear a helmet. However, like most rules, there are exceptions. Get to know Florida’s helmet regulations before going for a ride to avoid a traffic ticket and prevent serious injuries in a crash.
To learn more about Florida helmet laws or for legal help, call Rubenstein Law. You can reach our motorcycle accident attorneys by calling 800-FL-LEGAL (355-3425). We are here 24/7 to answer your call.
§ 316.211(3)(b), Fla. Stat., varies from many other state’s laws, by allowing adults over 21 to forgo a helmet, but only if they have proof of insurance ($10,000 of bodily injury insurance) in the event of an accident. It’s not bodily injury coverage, like in a car.
Florida only requires proof that you have health insurance that will cover up to $10,000 of injuries in an accident. Other states only require helmets for minors and young adults but do not require helmets for adult riders. Nineteen states and D.C. have universal helmet laws for all bikers.
Under § 316.211(3)(b), Fla. Stat., riders and passengers are eligible for the helmet exemption if they are over 21 years of age and covered by an insurance policy providing at least $10,000 in medical benefits. While $10,000 will make it legal to skip your helmet, it will not go far when it comes to covering medical bills in the unfortunate event of a motorcycle accident.
Yes, you must wear a motorcycle helmet in Florida unless you are over 21 years old and have a certain amount of insurance coverage. It is always a good idea to wear a helmet. A helmet can reduce your chance of brain injury from a motorcycle crash by 67%. TBIs are serious and can change anything from your personality to your ability to cook your own dinner or do your job that allows you to take care of your family.
Florida Statute Section 316.211(1) states no one may operate or ride a motorcycle unless they properly wear protective headgear securely fastened on their head, which complies with Federal Motorcycle Vehicle Safety Standard 218, promulgated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. In other words, motorcycle operators and passengers must properly wear a DOT-approved helmet.
Exceptions to this law include:
Because Florida allows for exceptions to who must wear a motorcycle helmet, this is known as a partial helmet law. A universal helmet law differs in that everyone must wear a helmet no matter their age, skill level, or insurance coverage.
To determine whether helmet use is required on a motorcycle in Florida, consider your age. If you are 20 years old or younger, then yes, you must wear a helmet.
If you are 21 years or older, consider your insurance coverage. If you lack insurance or your policy limit is below $10,000, then yes, you must wear a helmet.
Under Florida Statute Section 316.211(7), not wearing a helmet when you are required by law to do so is a non-criminal traffic infraction. This traffic ticket is punishable as a non-moving violation, including a $30 fine, $18 court costs, $12.50 administrative fee, and a $10 assessment fee.
It is unlawful for a motorcyclist to ride a bike in Florida without a helmet unless you fit into a specific exception. However, you will not be arrested or convicted of a crime. You will be ticketed and fined.
Nearly all states have helmet laws; however, a few do not. Even in states that do have helmet laws, there are exceptions to when and who must wear a helmet.
Illinois and Iowa are the only states that do not have any motorcycle helmet laws. In these states, motorcycle riders and passengers are not required to wear helmets.
New Hampshire used to have no motorcycle helmet laws but recently enacted a law that riders under the age of 18 must wear helmets.
While Illinois does not require helmets, the state does require motorcycle riders to wear glasses, goggles, or a transparent shield. New Hampshire requires eye protection unless the motorcycle has a windscreen. Iowa does not require any protective gear for motorcyclists.
Although most of the US has helmet laws, they vary and may allow riders to forgo a helmet after a certain age.
States where adults aged 18 and older do not have to ride with a helmet include:
States that do not require helmets for adults aged 21 and older include:
Missouri does not require helmets for motorcyclists aged 26 and older.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, head injury, including traumatic brain injury, is a leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes in the US. The purpose of helmets is to reduce the occurrence of and reduce the severity of head injuries in motorcycle accidents.
The NHTSA estimates motorcycle helmets lower the risk of a crash fatality by over 35%. A Crash Outcome Data Evaluation System study discovered motorcycle helmets are 67% effective in preventing brain injuries. Motorcycle riders without helmets were three times more likely to sustain brain injuries than riders wearing helmets, according to the CODES study.
Additionally, Florida repealed its universal helmet law in 2002. In the 30 months afterward, 40% more motorcycle riders were admitted to the hospital for treatment compared to the 30 months prior to the time the helmet law changed. The rate of crash fatalities increased significantly, as did the number of riders under 21 years old who went without a helmet, despite the continued requirement for them to wear helmets.
Florida law specifically states a motorcycle rider’s headgear needs to comply with DOT minimum standards outlined in FMVSS 218.
To determine if a helmet is DOT approved:
In addition to searching for a DOT certified helmet, you also should look for a helmet that fits you appropriately and comfortably.
Helmets come in a variety of shapes and sizes. You may prefer a round-oval, long oval, or intermediate oval helmet. You should measure your head using a fabric measuring tape. Place the measuring tape above your eyebrows and circle the widest part of the back of your head. Use this measurement when referring to a helmet size chart.
A helmet should fit snugly, but not so tight as to be uncomfortable. Your helmet should not move if you shake your head.
Helmets come in different styles. The style you choose may depend on your activity and preferences. You will want a different helmet for off-road activity and leisurely rides around town. Some helmets are more aerodynamic than others. Some offer full or partial face guards, while others require you to wear separate goggles.
Check out our ultimate guide to buying a helmet to make sure you pick the one right for you.
You should not buy a motorcycle helmet and assume you will use it forever. Motorcycle helmet expiration is something you should pay attention to for your own safety.
Many riders automatically replace their helmets every three to five years. However, you need to consider the manufacturer’s expiration date. You can’t how long a helmet sat in a warehouse or on a shelf before you bought it. Your helmet may expire before you realize it.
Most manufacturers give helmet expiration dates as seven years after the helmet’s production date. You can find the manufacture date for your helmet on the interior label.
You also should replace your helmet after you have been in a collision. If you drop your helmet, inspect it thoroughly for damage. You may not need to replace the helmet, but signs of wear and tear may mean it is time for a new noggin protector.
There are no laws about GoPros on motorcycle helmets. States’ laws do not specifically address GoPros and other cameras attached to helmets. Neither do federal laws.
The DOT standards for helmets require that helmets not have anything projecting off the helmet beyond a certain length (0.020 in/5 mm). They also state the manufacturer’s instructions to riders should state “make no modifications.”
Permanently attaching a GoPro or other camera to your helmet may qualify as a modification. This is not necessarily illegal, but it would make your helmet non-compliant with DOT regulations. In theory you could receive a ticket if you wear a modified motorcycle helmet that is no longer DOT compliant. This doesn’t seem to happen often.
If you have any questions, we’ll try to answer the most common ones here. If you have additional questions, feel free to reach out to our office.
Safe helmets are in good condition, without wear and tear, and meet state and federal guidelines. Helmets that are not safe are often sold as novelty items and should not be worn as protection on a motorcycle.
Florida requires bikers to get helmets that comply with Federal Motorcycle Vehicle Safety Standard 218. Helmets should have a thick inner liner of one-inch firm polystyrene foam, not soft foam padding or bare plastic shell with no padding.
They should also have a sturdy chin strap with solid rivets. FMVSS 218 compliant helmets usually weigh around three pounds and feel substantial.
Nothing should extend beyond two-tenths of an inch from the surface of the helmet, including a visor or decorative spikes or designs. FMVSS 218 helmets should have a sticker that says “DOT” on the outside back surface.
As stated above, you must have an insurance policy with a minimum of $10,000 in medical benefits. Insurance may be provided from a health insurance company or as limited motorcycle medical coverage. A Personal Injury Protection insurance plan is not acceptable because PIP does not apply to motorcycle operators or passengers in Florida.
If you ride your motorcycle into another state, you must comply with all laws in that state including local helmet laws.
Yes. Fatal motorcycle crash statistics in Florida prove that helmets can save lives.
In the late 1990s, Florida had a universal helmet law. Between 1997 and 1999, an estimated 9.4% of riders did not wear helmets in Florida. In those years, around 515 people were killed in fatal crashes.
When Florida adopted its current law in 2000, allowing people over the age of 20 to ride without a helmet, those statistics changed. Between 2001 and 2003, approximately 60.8% of riders did not wear helmets. During that time, 933 motorcycle riders died in crashes.
It is obvious that when more people wear helmets, fewer people die in motorcycle crashes.
If you have any questions regarding motorcycle helmet laws in Florida or how these helmet laws impact a personal injury claim, contact Rubenstein Law today. Our dedicated Florida motorcycle attorneys are happy to answer your questions.
Call us at 800-FL-LEGAL/(800-355-3425) to schedule your free consultation.
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