With the warm and sunny climate, it is no surprise that Florida is home to many avid motorcyclists. A 2020 census showed there were 620,077 registered motorcyclists in Florida. Motorcycles are inherently intriguing given the heightened level of risk and reward they represent. The experience of riding a motorcycle on the open road is incredible, but an accident can easily be deadly for even the most skilled riders. Motorcyclists and passengers are more vulnerable to injuries without airbags and a metal frame of an automobile. Furthermore, motorcycles are small and are susceptible to being in the blind spot of other drivers. In order to help keep more motorcyclists safe, Florida established a helmet law. But does it work?

A Floridian involved in a motorcycle accident fills out their injury claim form.

Over the years, Florida’s laws have changed significantly, including those related to motorcycle helmet laws. Does a rider have to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle? When a motorcyclist is injured in an accident, how does not wearing a helmet affect their claim? After being involved in a serious motorcycle accident, the Florida helmet law could have an impact on a rider’s personal injury claim. If you own a motorcycle in Florida, we created this resource for you!

Also, keep Herman & Wells in mind if you or someone you know is injured in a motorcycle accident in Florida. Call (727) 821-3195 or use the contact form to request a free legal consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers. This is an opportunity to speak to an experienced attorney about your situation, ask questions about what to expect moving forward and learn what level of compensation you are entitled to for your claim.

The Cliff Notes: Key Takeaways From This Post

  • 1
    In Florida, it is illegal to ride a motorcycle without a helmet.
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    Motorcycle riders must comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218 and are subject to fines.
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    Exceptions include enclosed cabs, riders under the age of 16 operating a motorcycle of less than 50 cc or who will not exceed 30 mph on level ground.
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    In addition to helmets, passengers and motorcyclists must also wear proper eye protection when riding on public roads.
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    Motorcycle accident statistics have revealed that riders have been injured and killed more often than passengers and that there tends to be fewer fatal accidents when DOT-compliant helmets are worn.
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    If an adult rider does not wear a helmet, they must show proof that their injuries will be covered up to $10,000 if involved in an accident.
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    Not wearing a helmet may result in reduced compensation from a court of law if it is determined that the victim’s injuries could have been avoided if one were worn.

Can You Ride a Motorcycle Without a Helmet Legally in Florida?

The short answer is “no”. Motorcycle riders in Florida are not subject to criminal penalties for riding without helmets. Instead, they receive a ticket and must pay a fine. Under Florida Statute *316.211, anyone riding or operating a motorcycle must wear protective headgear with subsections that indicate exceptions we’ll discuss in the next section. Helmets must comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218. Enclosed cabs are exempt from this law. In addition, riders under the age of 16 who are operating a motorcycle of less than 50 cc or who will not exceed 30 mph on level ground are not covered by the law.

The History of Florida’s Helmet Law

Florida’s current motorcycle helmet law was passed on June 16, 2000, and it took effect on July 1, 2000. As a law that has been around for over 18 years, it’s unlike many others in the country. Several states require helmets for minors and young adults, but not for adults. Under § 316.211(3)(b), Fla. Stat., passengers and riders over 21 can forego a helmet, but they must show proof that their injuries would be covered up to $10,000 if involved in an accident. The first motorcycle helmet law dates back to the late 1960s or early 1970s in many states. Many states enacted motorcycle helmet laws during this time period, and federal safety standards increased. In the late 1990s, these laws remained in effect, but movements for more freedom led to their repeal. The belief among bikers was that if they didn’t wear a helmet, they could only hurt themselves, and the government shouldn’t be so paternalistic.

On December 8th, 1995, a court in Florida ruled part of the helmet law unconstitutional. According to the Florida v. Raynal court, parts of the helmet law were unconstitutional because they were too vague. It was in that case that the plaintiff challenged a ticket for not wearing a helmet, and the court dismissed the ticket as unconstitutional upon closer inspection. As a result, the Florida police continued to enforce this law regardless of its unconstitutionality, and later cases continued to challenge tickets for violating the helmet requirement. The rest of the statute was declared unconstitutional by the court in Florida v. Landry on May 8, 1996. In 2000, then-Governor Jeb Bush signed into law a new helmet statute to replace the old one. Since it allows adult riders to leave their helmets at home, but it also requires them to carry insurance that will cover their injuries if they get hurt, it is a bit of a compromise.

Florida Motorcycle Helmet & Accident Statistics

There is plenty of data on motorcycle accidents in Florida due to the sheer amount of incidents that occur. We examined factors including injury type, helmet use, county, and how Florida compares with the rest of the country, in addition to the total number of motorcycle accidents. Injuries and motorcycle accidents decreased between 2018 and 2020, but fatalities increased. Consequently, there were more motorcycle accidents resulting in fatalities. Statistically, motorcyclists have been injured and killed far more often than passengers in motorcycle accidents in 2020. This is understandable, since not every motorcycle accident involves passengers. Additionally, both drivers and passengers sustained the most non-incapacitating injuries.

  • During the last three years, Miami-Dade had an average of 1,004 motorcycle accidents, the Florida county with the most.
  • Despite the possibility that this data represents the number of residents per county, it does not follow this ratio exactly. Lee County is among the top 10 largest counties in the nation. These counties are among the largest in Florida but didn’t make the list. That means there are fewer motorcycle accidents than the national average.
  • Volusia County, on the other hand, made the list but isn’t among the top 10 largest counties, which means it has a higher percentage of motorcycle accidents than other counties.

Motorcyclists are advised to wear DOT-Compliant helmets, which have been approved by the Department of Transportation. There is a sticker on the back of helmets that says “DOT” as well as the manufacturer and/or model number. Fit is of utmost importance when it comes to providing proper protection. Safety gear like thick jackets, pants, boots, and gloves can also protect you in the event of an accident. Furthermore, there were 13 fatal motorcycle accidents where non-DOT-compliant helmets were worn, as well as 8 fatal motorcycle accidents where helmet use was not specified. Statistically, motorcycle passengers who were involved in an accident were less likely to wear helmets than drivers. In addition, there were 3 passenger fatalities in w