Does Oklahoma have a helmet law for motorcyclists and passengers?

Question

Does Oklahoma have a helmet law for motorcyclists and passengers?

Answer

Yes, but it’s important to note that Oklahoma’s version isn’t nearly as broad as the so-called “universal” helmet laws that have been passed in a number of states. In Oklahoma, only riders and passengers who are under the age of 18 are required to wear a motorcycle helmet. In contrast, a “universal” helmet law applies to all motorcycle riders, regardless of their age.

The relevant language that makes up Oklahoma’s motorcycle helmet law (which you can find at Oklahoma Statutes section 47-12-609) reads: “No person under eighteen (18) years of age shall operate or ride upon any motorcycle unless such person is properly wearing a crash helmet of a type which complies with standards established by [federal safety regulations].”

For more details on motorcycle safety regulations in Oklahoma, licensing information, and tips for riders, you might want to check out the Oklahoma Motorcycle Operator Manual from the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety.

So, that’s what Oklahoma statutes have to say about helmet use by motorcyclists and their passengers. But what if you get into a motorcycle accident and you weren’t wearing a helmet? There could be financial consequences in any lawsuit you decide to file, and that’s true even if the crash was the obvious fault of another driver. That's because Oklahoma follows a “comparative fault” rule in personal injury cases where the plaintiff (the injured person) is said to share some amount of blame for their own injuries.

If an Oklahoma civil jury decides that your failure to wear a helmet amounted to negligence -- and they could make such a finding even if you were over 18 and not legally required to wear a helmet -- any compensation you receive will be reduced by a percentage that equals your share of blame (a jury would also make a fault apportionment after weighing the evidence). To learn more about these shared fault rules and other state laws that could affect a motorcycle accident case, check out Oklahoma Car Accident Laws.

by: David Goguen, J.D.

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