Does Ohio have a helmet law for motorcyclists and their passengers?

Question

Does Ohio have a helmet law for motorcyclists and their passengers?

Answer

Yes. Like a lot of states, Ohio has a motorcycle helmet law on the books, although it’s not the “universal” type that requires anyone riding on a motorcycle to wear a helmet.

Specifically, Ohio Revised Code section 4511.53 places the following restrictions on certain riders and passengers when it comes to helmets:

“No person who is under the age of eighteen years, or who holds a motorcycle operator's endorsement or license bearing a "novice" designation that is currently in effect…, shall operate a motorcycle on a highway, or be a passenger on a motorcycle, unless wearing a protective helmet on the person's head, and no other person shall be a passenger on a motorcycle operated by such a person unless similarly wearing a protective helmet.”

So, to summarize and (hopefully) clarify: In Ohio, so-called “novice” riders and people who are under the age of 18 (whether riders or passengers) are required to wear a helmet while riding on a motorcycle. And if the person operating the motorcycle is required to wear a helmet, so too are any passengers.

In many states, if you get injured in a motorcycle accident, even when another driver caused the crash, your failure to wear a helmet might have a negative effect on any personal injury lawsuit you decide to file. But not’s not typically the case in Ohio.

That’s because, while Ohio has a law on the books making helmet use mandatory for certain riders, in that same statute the Ohio legislature has included this instruction: “The provisions of this paragraph or a violation thereof shall not be used in the trial of any civil action.”

That means, in Ohio, a person’s violation of the state’s helmet law can’t typically be used against them in a civil case, like in a personal injury lawsuit where they are seeking compensation for injuries from a motorcycle accident. To learn more about laws that could affect an injury case after a vehicle accident in Ohio, check out our Ohio Car Accident Laws article.

by: David Goguen, J.D.

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