Does North Carolina have a helmet law for motorcyclists and motorcycle passengers?

Question

Does North Carolina have a helmet law for motorcyclists and motorcycle passengers?

Answer

Yes. Like a lot of states, North Carolina has passed a “universal” motorcycle helmet law that requires anyone riding on a motorcycle -- whether they are operating the bike or riding as a passenger -- to wear a helmet, regardless of how old they are or how much riding experience they have.

Specifically, North Carolina’s motorcycle helmet law says “No person shall operate a motorcycle or moped upon a highway or public vehicular area unless the operator and all passengers thereon wear on their heads, with a retention strap properly secured, safety helmets of a type that complies with [federal safety standards].”

To see the full text of North Carolina’s motorcycle helmet law, go to North Carolina General Statutes section 20-140.4. And for more information on safety regulations in the state, check out the Motorcyclists’ Handbook from the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles.

For violations of North Carolina’s helmet law, the statute mandates that an infraction be issued and that the offender pay a fine of $25.50 plus applicable costs, but no “points” will be assessed against the violator’s driver’s license.

If you get injured in a motorcycle accident in North Carolina, and another driver caused the crash, will your failure to wear a helmet affect any personal injury lawsuit you decide to file? In most states, the issue is at least up for grabs, but not so in North Carolina.

That’s because, while the state has codified a law making helmet use mandatory for all motorcycle riders, the North Carolina legislature has also made clear in that same statute that “Violation of any provision of this section shall not be considered negligence per se or contributory negligence per se in any civil action.”

So, to put it in plain English, a person’s failure to abide by the helmet law can’t typically be used against them in a civil case where they are seeking compensation for injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. To learn more about state laws that could come into play in an injury case after an accident, check out our North Carolina Car Accident Laws article.

by: David Goguen, J.D.

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