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Are Motorcycle Operators And Riders Required To Wear Helmets In Michigan?

by | May 13, 2021 | Traffic Offenses |

 

Effective April 13, 2012, the Michigan Legislature abolished the requirement that everyone operating or riding on a motorcycle must wear a crash helmet provided that certain conditions are met.  As a result of extensive lobbying from various motorcycle groups for decades, Michigan joined thirty other states that also do not require motorcycle operators and passengers to wear helmets at all times.  However, if you do not meet all of the conditions required by law, the helmet law will still apply to you.

A person operating a motorcycle is NOT required to wear a crash helmet in Michigan if ALL of the following requirements are met:

  • The operator is 21 years of age or older. MCL 257.658(5).
  • The operator EITHER has a motorcycle endorsement on his or her operator’s or chauffeur’s license for at least 2 years OR the operator passes a motorcycle safety course approved by the Michigan Secretary of State. MCL 257.658(5)(a).
  • The operator has at least $20,000.00 in first-party medical benefits (Personal Injury Protection or PIP) under his or her insurance payable in the event of a motorcycle accident. MCL 257.658(5)c)(i).

A person riding on a motorcycle as a passenger is NOT required to wear a crash helmet in Michigan if ALL of the following requirements are met:

  • The passenger is 21 years of age or older. MCL 257.658(5).
  • The passenger or the operator of the motorcycle he or she is riding EITHER has a motorcycle endorsement on his or her operator’s or chauffeur’s license for at least 2 years OR the operator and/or passenger passes a motorcycle safety course approved by the Michigan Secretary of State. MCL 257.658(5)(a).
  • The operator of the motorcycle he or she is riding has at least $20,000.00 in first-party medical benefits (Personal Injury Protection or PIP) PER PERSON and PER OCCURANCE under his or her insurance payable in the event of a motorcycle accident. MCL 257.658(5)c)(ii).

All motorcycle operators and riders under 21 years old MUST wear a helmet even if the other conditions are satisfied.  Crash helmets, when required, must be approved by the Michigan State Police and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Even if motorcycle operators and riders are not required to wear a crash helmet, they may still be required to have eye protection.  “When a motorcycle operated on the public highways of this state in excess of 35 miles per hour is not equipped with a windshield, the operator shall wear goggles with transparent lenses or a transparent face shield or eyeglasses, which goggles, eyeglasses, or face shield shall be of shatter resistant material and of sufficient size to protect his eyes against insects, other airborne material, and highway surface water and debris.”  MCL 257.708a.

Failure to comply with Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law can make the operator or passenger responsible for a civil infraction punishable by a fine.

A person accused of a civil infraction is not required to admit responsibility and can request a formal or informal hearing before a district court judge or magistrate.  If you actually had the required certifications or PIP benefits but could not produce them to the police officer, you may be able to show them to the prosecuting attorney.  Even if the violation of law is clear, you still may be able to work out a resolution with you to ease the financial penalties, including a dismissal.  You are always entitled to retain the services of a skilled lawyer to assist you.

If you have any questions about Michigan’s motorcycle laws, then do not hesitate to contact the experienced lawyers at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC for assistance today.

 

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