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Do You Have to Wear a Motorcycle Helmet in Georgia?

By Butler Prather LLP on May 11, 2022

We have plenty of motorcyclists in the state of Georgia, and it is crucial for every motorcycle driver and passenger to take steps to maintain safety. This includes wearing the appropriate gear. Helmets save lives, and they are also required in the state of Georgia. Here, we want to examine Georgia law related to motorcycle helmets as well as the benefits of wearing a helmet overall.

GA motorcycle helmet

What Georgia Law Says About Motorcycle Helmets

Many states across the country allow riders to choose whether or not they wear helmets when operating a motorcycle. Georgia, however, is not one of those states. There is a universal motorcycle helmet law in place in this state, and this requires motorcyclists to wear helmets at all times when they are riding. This includes motorcycle drivers and passengers.

Motorcycle helmets are a leading safety feature that helps prevent catastrophic brain and head injuries in the event an accident occurs while riding. State legislators and other leaders recognize this and have kept the universal motorcycle helmet law in place.

Consequences of Failing to Wear a Helmet

Motorcycle drivers and passengers who fail to wear a helmet could receive a citation from law enforcement officers. This constitutes a misdemeanor offense in the state of Georgia, and riders could face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. In reality, no motorcyclist receives a jail sentence for violating the state’s helmet law. Typically, a judge will issue a fine for a lesser amount, probably ranging from $100 to $500.

Failing to wear a helmet could also impact how much compensation a person receives if they get into an accident and sustain a head or brain injury. Under the state’s modified comparative negligence law, the total compensation a person receives may be reduced if they share fault for an injury. For example, if a jury determines that a motorcyclist was 40% responsible for their head injuries because they failed to wear a helmet, a judge would only award 60% of the total damages to that rider.

Features of a DOT-Approved Helmet

Motorcycle riders in Georgia cannot just go pick out any helmet to use when they ride. A DOT-approved helmet is required, and these have specific features described by the Department of Transportation, noted in the FMV-218 rules:

  • The helmet must provide impact protection, meaning it will distribute the force of the impact with an object.
  • The helmet must protect a rider from sharper penetrating objects that could get to the head and brain.
  • The helmet must have effective retention straps in place, which means they must be strong enough to not come off easily.
  • The helmet must provide adequate visibility, which means a motorcyclist should have 105-degree visibility from the centerline.

All motorcyclists should look to make sure that the helmet says DOT FMV-218 compliant before they purchase it. There are many counterfeit motorcycle helmets on the market, particularly when purchasing from online retailers. It is important to stick to known motorcycle supply companies or major brands, and preferably in-store locations, so the helmet can be inspected.

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