When you are ready to purchase a motorcycle or hop on a friend’s ride, it is important to know the helmet laws in Florida. On July 1, 2000, the current version of the Florida helmet law was implemented. § 316.211(3)(b), Fla. Stat., varies from many other state’s laws, by allowing adults over 21 to forgo a helmet, but only if they have proof of insurance ($10,000 of bodily injury insurance) in the event of an accident. It’s not bodily injury coverage, like in a car. Basically, all FL requires is proof that you have health insurance that will pay for up to $10,000 of injuries in an accident. Other states only require helmets for minors and young adults, but do not require helmets for adult riders. Nineteen states and DC have universal helmet laws for all bikers.
Under § 316.211(3)(b), Fla. Stat., riders and passengers are eligible for the helmet exemption if you are over 21 years of age and covered by an insurance policy providing at least $10,000 in medical benefits. While $10,000 will make it legal to skip your helmet, it will not go far when it comes to covering medical bills in the unfortunate event of a motorcycle accident.
In general, yes, you should to wear a helmet. However, like most rules, there are exceptions. Get to know Florida’s helmet regulations before going for a ride to avoid a traffic ticket and prevent serious injuries in a crash.
You might wonder if you can still get compensation after a crash if you weren’t wearing a helmet. If someone else is to blame for your wreck, you are still eligible.
Yes, you must wear a motorcycle helmet in Florida unless you are over 21 years old and have a certain amount of insurance coverage. It is always a good idea to wear a helmet. A helmet can reduce your chance of brain injury (TBI) from a motorcycle crash by 67%. TBIs are serious and can change anything from your personality to your ability to cook your own dinner.
Florida Statute Section 316.211(1) states no one may operate or ride a motorcycle unless they properly wear protective headgear securely fastened on their head, which complies with Federal Motorcycle Vehicle Safety Standard 218, promulgated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. In other words, motorcycle operators and passengers must properly wear a DOT-approved helmet.
Exceptions to this law include:
Because Florida allows for exceptions to who must wear a motorcycle helmet, this is known as a partial helmet law. A universal helmet law differs in that everyone must wear a helmet no matter their age, skill level, or insurance coverage.
To determine whether helmet use is required on a motorcycle in Florida, consider your age. If you are 20 years old or younger, then yes, you must wear a helmet.
If you are 21 years or older, consider your insurance coverage. If you lack insurance or your policy limit is below $10,000, then yes, you must wear a helmet.
Under Florida Statute Section 316.211(7), not wearing a helmet when you are required by law to do so is a non-criminal traffic infraction. This traffic ticket is punishable as a non-moving violation, including a $30 fine, $18 court costs, $12.50 administrative fee, and a $10 assessment fee.
It is unlawful for a motorcyclist to ride a bike in Florida without a helmet unless you fit into a specific exception. However, you will not be arrested or convicted of a crime. You will be ticketed and fined.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), head injury, including traumatic brain injury (TBI), is a leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes in the U.S. The purpose of helmets is to reduce the occurrence of and reduce the severity of head injuries in motorcycle accidents.
The NHTSA estimates motorcycle helmets lower the risk of a crash fatality by over 35%. A Crash Outcome Data Evaluation System (CODES) study discovered motorcycle helmets are 67% effective in preventing brain injuries. Motorcycle riders without helmets were three times (3x) more likely to sustain brain injuries than riders wearing helmets, according to the CODES study.
Additionally, Florida repealed its universal helmet law in 2002. In the 30 months afterward, 40% more motorcycle riders were admitted to the hospital for treatment compared to the 30 months prior to the time the helmet law changed. The rate of crash fatalities increased significantly, as did the number of riders under 21 years old who went without a helmet, despite the continued requirement for them to wear helmets.
Florida law specifically states a motorcycle rider’s headgear needs to comply with DOT minimum standards outlined in FMVSS 218.
To determine if a helmet is DOT approved:
In addition to searching for a DOT certified helmet, you also should look for a helmet that fits you appropriately and comfortably.
Helmets come in a variety of shapes and sizes. You may prefer a round-oval, long oval, or intermediate oval helmet. You should measure your head using a fabric measuring tape. Place the measuring tape above your eyebrows and circle the widest part of the back of your head. Use this measurement when referring to a helmet size chart.
A helmet should fit snugly, but not so tight as to be uncomfortable. Your helmet should not move if you shake your head.
Helmets come in different styles. The style you choose may depend on your activity and preferences. You will want a different helmet for off-road activity and leisurely rides around town. Some helmets are more aerodynamic than others. Some offer full or partial face guards, while others require you to wear separate goggles.
You should not buy a motorcycle helmet and assume you will use it forever. Motorcycle helmet expiration is something you should pay attention to for your own safety.
Many riders automatically replace their helmets every three-to-five years. However, you need to consider the manufacturer’s expiration date. You never know how long a helmet sat in a warehouse or on a shelf before you bought it. Your helmet may expire before you realize it.
Most manufacturers give helmet expiration dates as seven years after the helmet’s production date. You can find the manufacture date for your helmet on the interior label.
You also should replace your helmet after you have been in a collision. If you drop your helmet, inspect it thoroughly for damage. You may not need to replace the helmet, but signs of wear and tear may mean it is time for a new noggin protector.
There are no laws about GoPros on motorcycle helmets. States’ laws do not specifically address GoPros and other cameras attached to helmets. Neither do federal laws.
The DOT standards for helmets require that helmets not have anything projecting off the helmet beyond a certain length (0.020 in/5 mm). They also state the manufacturer’s instructions to riders should state “make no modifications.”
Permanently attaching a GoPro or other camera to your helmet may qualify as a modification. This is not necessarily illegal, but it would make your helmet non-compliant with DOT regulations. In theory you could receive a ticket if you wear a modified motorcycle helmet that is no longer DOT compliant. This doesn’t seem to happen often.
If you have any questions regarding motorcycle helmet laws in Florida or how these helmet laws impact a personal injury claim, contact Rubenstein Law today. Our dedicated Florida motorcycle attorneys are happy to answer your questions.
Call us at 800-FL-LEGAL/(800-355-3425) to schedule your free consultation.