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Wisconsin's Motorcycle Helmet Law

Learn about Wisconsin's motorcycle helmet law - what is required and what is not - through this blog. Information about fines for not complying with this law is also covered.
You may be surprised that Wisconsin’s motorcycle helmet law does not require that everyone operating or riding a motorcycle wear a helmet.  To read the statute itself, see Wis. Stat. sec. 347.485.  Helmets are only required for operators and passengers who are under 18, or operating under an instructional permit. While an operator over 18 (and has a regular permit) is never required to a helmet, it is illegal to operate a motorcycle with a passenger under 18 if the passenger is not wearing a helmet.  But this doesn’t mean operators can wear whatever they want on their heads--in contrast to helmets, eye protection is required for all operators, no matter their age.  The statute lists face shields, glasses and goggles as acceptable forms of eye protection. If you are required to wear a helmet under the law, not just any helmet will do.   The statute requires that protective headgear conform to federal regulations for motorcycle helmets.  If the outside of your helmet has a “DOT” symbol on the back, you can rest assured that it meets federal safety standards.  Once you have the right helmet, you must also remember to fasten your chin strap, since that is a requirement is as well. For individuals who do not comply with Wisconsin’s motorcycle helmet law, the violation comes with a fine of about $175.00.  For those to whom the fine does not apply, there are still substantial risks associated with operating or riding a motorcycle without a helmet.  According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, about 100 motorcyclists are killed each year in Wisconsin, and more than 2,500 are injured.  Helmets can help reduce the risk of dying or being injured (in a motorcycle accident).  In 2010, 72 motorcyclists who were not wearing helmets died in motorcycle accidents, compared to 23 who were wearing helmets. Although the law may be seen as not going very far (since most operators are not required to wear anything more than eye protection), it did come under attack when it first came out by groups claiming helmets were dangerous…  However, it was tested in the courts, and they have decided that it is constitutional and within the state’s police power to require protective headgear…
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