Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Georgia 

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Georgia Helmet Laws and Regulations

Georgia enjoys a bustling motorcycling community, with dozens of clubs attracting bikers of all backgrounds. The state is steadfast in ensuring the safety of its motorcycle mavericks, which explains the stringent motorcycle helmet laws.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), wearing a helmet reduces the risk of death by 29% and the risk of a head injury by 67%. Georgia enacted its universal helmet law in 1969, which required all motorcycle riders to wear helmets, regardless of age or experience. OCGA §40-6-315 reiterates the same but makes a few exceptions for different bike styles.

Although well-intentioned, variations in motorcycle laws across different bike styles can be confusing, leaving many motorcyclists on the wrong side of the law. In case of an accident, not wearing a helmet could be seen as a negligent act and might impact your capacity to seek complete compensation even if the other party is 100 percent responsible for the accident.

If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident caused by another driver, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an experienced Atlanta motorcycle accident attorney at Dressie Law Firm to discuss your case and determine the best course of action.

    A Brief Overview of Georgia’s Motorcycle Helmet Law

    Georgia has one of the country’s strictest and most comprehensive helmet laws. It was the second state to pass a universal helmet law after North Carolina. Georgia Code § 40-6-315 sits at the core of Georgia’s motorcycle helmet laws. Below is a summary of the law’s provisions:

    • No person can ride a motorcycle unless they wear a helmet that complies with the standards established by the public safety commissioner. These standards, according to Rule 570-13-.02, are the same as those established by the Department of Transportation (DOT).
    • No person can drive a motorcycle without windshields unless they have DOT-approved eye protection.
    • This law doesn’t apply if you ride an enclosed cab (cabin scooter, quadricycle) or motorized cart. It also doesn’t apply if you ride a three-wheeled motorcycle for agricultural purposes.

    As mentioned above, Georgia has a universal helmet law that applies to all motorcycle operators, regardless of the rider’s age, experience, and bike type. The law applies also to passengers and out-of-state riders on Georgia’s public roads.

     Georgia requires motorcycle helmets to meet standards established in Rule 570-13-.02 and must be approved by the DOT. These helmets are designed for impact attenuation and are heavier than standard helmets. An approved helmet has a DOT sticker on the back.

    Motorcycle Helmet Violations

    In Georgia, riding a motorcycle without a helmet is a misdemeanor offense. While the maximum penalty is stiff, reaching up to $1,000 in fines and even a year in jail, it’s uncommon for courts to impose such harsh punishments for a first-time helmet violation. However, if it’s your second offense, the punishment increases significantly.

    Fine and jail penalties aside, not wearing a helmet will cost you far more in case of an accident. If found to have ignored Georgia’s motorcycle helmet laws while involved in a crash, your ability to seek compensation for injuries might be affected significantly. An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer in Atlanta at the Dressie Law Firm can help you navigate these complicated laws and protect your interests.

    Helmets and Headgear Standards Set by Georgia Motorcycle Laws

    Georgia requires motorcycle helmets that meet specific safety standards by the DOT’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS), 49 C.F.R. § 571.218. Here are key points regarding helmet and headgear standards set by Georgia laws:

    The Inner Lining

    The thickness of the inner lining should be at least an inch thick. It should also be made from a sturdy foam like polystyrene to absorb impact. Moreover, it should include a comfort lining to boost the rider’s comfort and absorb moisture.

    The Weight

    Georgia requires motorcycle helmets to weigh at least three pounds. Most sub-standard helmets usually weigh one pound or less.

    The Design

    Helmets should allow peripheral vision clearance of at least 105 degrees on each side. They should also have strong chin straps that attach to the helmet with rivets. Nothing should extend beyond 0.2 inches from the surface of the helmet, such as spikes for decoration. The helmet should have a permanent label that shows:

    • The manufacturer’s name

    • The model designation

    • Its size

    • The DOT symbol

    Understanding the Importance of Motorcycle Helmets

    Helmets seem bulky and intrusive to your motorcycle riding experience. However, wearing a helmet might be the difference between life and death. Here are a few reasons why you should always wear a helmet while out on the road:

    Meeting the Legal Requirement

    Like other Georgia motorcycle laws, wearing a helmet is mandatory. Failure to do so could result in severe legal consequences, including fines, jail time, and community service.

    Reducing the Risk of a Head Injury

    According to the NHTSA, head injuries are the leading cause of death and severe injuries in motorcycle crashes. Helmets reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by a whopping 67%.

    Protecting You from Debris and the Elements

    Dust, bugs, and other debris can fly into your eye, obscuring your vision. The same goes for heavy rain, wind, and harsh sun glare. Wearing protective headgear and eyewear protects you from debris and the elements and, in turn, from accidents.

    Avoiding Liability for a Motorcycle Accident

    In the event of a motorcycle accident, the at-fault party is liable for the damages sustained by the victim. However, failure to wear a helmet may be considered negligence on your part and could affect your ability to recover full compensation.

    Common Motorcycle Accidents Injuries 

    With no seatbelts or exterior protection, it’s no surprise that motorcycle accidents are among the most fatal. Here are the most common injuries associated with such accidents:

    • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)

    • Jaw and nose fractures

    • Whiplash

    • Herniated discs

    • Road rash

    • Burns

    How Violating Helmet Law Affects Your Right to Compensation

    Under Georgia law, the liable party for an accident is required to pay the victim’s damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage. However, liability is determined following the modified comparative negligence rule.

    According to this rule, the victim can only recover compensation if their fault is less than 50 percent. Moreover, their compensation is reduced by the percentage of their fault, that is, how much they contributed to their own injury.

    If you sustained a brain injury in a motorcycle accident and you were not wearing a helmet, you may not be able to recover compensation for any damages related to this particular injury. This is because you could have prevented such injury by abiding by the law and wearing an approved helmet.

    Experienced Motorcycle Lawyer at Your Service!

    Riding on a motorcycle lets you take in Georgia’s leafy squares and oak-line streets to their fullest. However, without a motorcycle helmet, pure bliss could turn into a hospital trip in seconds. Georgia’s motorcycle helmet laws are designed to keep you safe. Failing to follow them puts you at risk of serious injury, legal repercussions, and potentially losing your right to compensation in the event of an accident.

    Protect your right to full compensation with the help of our Atlanta motorcycle accident lawyer at Dressie Law Firm. If you have sustained injuries in a motorcycle accident, we are here to give you the needed legal representation to help you secure fair compensation. Contact us today and schedule your free consultation.

    The Dressie Law Firm Can Help You

    If you or a loved one is a victim of a reckless or negligent driver, we want you to know that the law is on your side and so is the Dressie Law Firm.

    Contact us today to schedule your free consultation!