Are motorcycle riders and passengers legally required to wear a helmet in Idaho?
Not all riders and passengers are required to wear a helmet -- only those who are under a threshold age. Idaho's motorcycle helmet law is nowhere near as expansive as the typical "universal" helmet law that is on the books in about 20 states. In Idaho, the relevant statute only requires a helmet for riders and passengers who are under 18.
Specifically, Idaho's motorcycle helmet law states, "No person under eighteen (18) years of age shall ride upon or be permitted to operate a motorcycle, motorbike, utility type vehicle or an all-terrain vehicle unless at all times when so operating or riding upon the vehicle he is wearing, as part of his motorcycle, motorbike, UTV or ATV equipment, a protective safety helmet of a type and quality equal to or better than the standards established for helmets by the director."
The "director" reference in that last sentence means the director of the Idaho state police. The statute goes on to clarify that the helmet law does not apply to persons riding on public property, or to motorcycles that are used in farming and agriculture. You can read the full text of Idaho's motorcycle helmet law at Idaho Statutes section 49-666.
If you get into a motorcycle accident and you are not wearing a helmet, it could complicate things in any personal injury lawsuit you file against the at-fault driver. If your case goes to trial, the jury could hold that your failure to wear a helmet amounted to negligence. This is a possibility whether or not you were violating Idaho's helmet law. So, even if you were over 18 and not legally obligated to wear a helmet, the jury could still decide that your failure to wear a helmet added up to negligence, especially if you're trying to get compensation for head injuries. (Learn more about How Helmet Use Affects Motorcycle Injury Cases.)
To learn more about how shared fault rules work in Idaho , read our Car Accident Laws in Idaho article.
by: David Goguen, J.D.