Decatur Motorcycle Helmet Laws

According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), wearing a helmet is one of the single most effective ways to reduce your risk of serious injury when riding a motorcycle. In the state of Georgia, though, wearing a motorcycle helmet is not just a personal choice, but rather a requirement under state law.

Understanding and following Decatur motorcycle helmet laws can help preserve both your physical safety and your right to file suit in the event of an accident. As a skilled attorney could explain in further detail, breaking the law by not wearing a helmet could constitute comparative fault for certain types of injuries, which could significantly inhibit civil recovery.

Helmet Requirements for Motorcyclists in Decatur

Under Official Code of Georgia §40-6-315, everyone who either operates or rides upon a motorcycle in Decatur must wear protective headgear that meets certain standards for safety. Furthermore, any rider who is not wearing an approved eye-protective device must equip their motorcycle with a windshield, as per this section of state law. The only exceptions to this rule apply to individuals operating three-wheeled motorcycles for agricultural purposes, operating or riding in a motorized cart, or riding in an enclosed cab.

Current instructions from the Georgia Commissioner of Public Safety—whom the aforementioned statute grants the authority to establish safety standards for motorcycle helmets and approve qualifying safety gear—state that motorcycle helmets worn by riders in Decatur must comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218. In order to meet this standard, a motorcycle helmet generally must have an internal polystyrene foam layer at least one inch thick and a chin strap riveted directly to the helmet, and it should weigh about three pounds without any protrusions more than two-tenths of an inch long. A DOT-approved helmet should have an accompanying DOT sticker on it for easy identification.

The Risks of Not Wearing a Helmet

Violating Decatur motorcycle helmet laws is considered a misdemeanor criminal offense. If a rider pleads or is found guilty of this offense, they may have to pay a maximum fine of $1,000 and complete a great deal of community service—and because this offense is a misdemeanor, jail time is technically on the table.

Perhaps more importantly, though, failure to wear a helmet can have catastrophic implications for a rider involved in a motorcycle crash, both in physical and legal terms. On the physical side of things, NHTSA statistics show that wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of a serious brain injury in a motorcycle wreck as much as 65 percent, and the risk of death as much as 37 percent.

In legal terms, the legal principle of comparative negligence established under O.C.G.A. §§51-11-7 and 51-12-33 allows a civil court to reduce a plaintiff’s recoverable compensation—or potentially bar them from recovery altogether—if a plaintiff’s own reckless or careless actions contributed to causing their injuries. A motorcycle crash lawyer could explain how this principle might impact a particular case and go over options for mitigating its negative effects.

Following Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Decatur Can Be Crucial to Civil Recovery

Even if you would rather not wear a helmet while riding your motorcycle, you have no choice under Georgia state law but to do so, and to ensure your passengers do so as well. Given the immense physical, criminal, and civil consequences that breaking Decatur motorcycle helmet laws can have, you should think twice before getting on the road without appropriate safety equipment.

If you get hurt in a motorcycle wreck caused by someone else and you were wearing a helmet, a qualified attorney may be able to help you seek significant civil compensation. Call today to learn more.