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Your Guide to Helmet Laws in Missouri


When you are in a motorcycle wreck, you have questions. Buchanan Williams & O’Brien can answer your questions about Helmet Laws in Missouri and more.

We are personal injury experts who have achieved results for our clients in Missouri for over 40 years.

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Missouri’s Helmet Laws 


Missouri’s motorcycle helmet law underwent a massive change in 2020. Before Missouri passed the new helmet law in 2020, all motorcycle riders and passengers were required to wear helmets on the road. After the new law passed, motorcyclists aged 26 and above with valid health insurance were made exempt from this requirement of wearing helmets.


History of Missouri’s Motorcycle Helmet Law

The U.S. Congress passed a highway funding bill in 1967 that mandated that states adopt universal motorcycle helmet laws before receiving funds for highways.  Hence, the Missouri motorcycle helmet law was passed in the same year.

However, in 2020, this universal helmet law was diluted, and its applicability was majorly limited to those aged 25 or below. The supporters of the new Missouri motorcycle helmet laws favored the law, saying it is an issue of freedom and decision-making.

Shortly after, the Missouri Department of Transportation reported that motorcycle fatalities had increased by 40% in 2021.

Even though not required by Missouri law, it is in the riders’ interests to wear helmets while on the road.

Missouri’s Motorcycle Helmet Laws After 2020 


Those aged 26 or above with valid health coverage are not required to wear a helmet under Missouri helmet laws. Examples of health insurance accepted as valid proof of coverage include the following:

  • A health insurance policy that provides at least $50,000 for medical benefits for injuries resulting from motorcycle accidents

  • Employer-provided health insurance that provides motorcyclists the same insurance coverage as a car accident insurance

If a rider does not wear a helmet, the following requirements must also be met:

  • They must have been holding their motorcycle license for at least the past two years.

  • They must have undergone a motorcycle accident safety course approved by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation or the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Missouri as a Secondary Enforcement State


Additionally, the 2020 Missouri helmet law made the state a secondary enforcement state from a primary enforcement state. This means that law enforcement officers cannot stop a rider for solely not wearing a helmet. To be ticketed, there has to be another traffic violation in addition to the helmet law violation.

This means that motorcycle operators under 26 who do not wear a helmet cannot be stopped and ticketed for this reason alone unless they violate other traffic laws as well. Before this change in 2020, Missouri was a primary enforcement state. This allowed police officers to stop motorcyclists to ask about their license, age, or missing helmet.


Benefits of Wearing Motorcycle Helmets


Missouri’s changed helmet law has faced criticism from many people. In effect, the new law is similar to having no statewide motorcycle helmet law which makes it mandatory for the rider to wear protective headgear. Without stopping and asking a rider, police officers cannot predict their age or health insurance status merely by looking at them. This essentially means that troopers cannot stop them for not wearing a helmet unless young riders commit another traffic violation. This encourages young and inexperienced riders who don’t have the proper training to ride without a helmet.

Many reports and studies suggest that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of serious head injuries and motorcycle accident deaths. Traumatic brain injury resulting from a motorcycle crash can lead to permanent disabilities.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that helmets can reduce the risk of death in a motorcycle accident by 37% (for riders) and 41% (for passengers). It also states that helmets reduce the risk of head injuries by 69%.

If the riders choose to wear a helmet, they also avoid unnecessary costs of medical bills and reduce the risk of causing severe damage to their own body.

How to Choose a Motorcycle Helmet?


Studies suggest that motorcycle riders should wear a helmet regardless of their age or experience. Some of the safety tips one should consider when wearing or buying a helmet include the following:

  • Changing the helmet after a crash, even if it appears fine after an accident.

  • Educating children about the importance of wearing a helmet.

  • Choosing a helmet with the right fit increases its ability to safeguard during an accident.

  • The helmet should have a snug fit and not slide from front to back or side to side.

  • The helmet should have a chin strap to make it stable.

  • For riding at night or at times or places with low visibility, choose helmets with lights and reflective gears.

  • The helmet should be placed correctly at the top of the head. It should not tilt in other directions.


Helmet Safety Standards

Motorcycle helmets are designed with stringent safety standards in mind to ensure that they provide effective protection for the Missouri motorcyclists. In the U.S., the Department of Transportation (DOT) sets minimum standards that all helmets sold for use on public roads must meet. helmets that meet this standard will have a DOT sticker. The standard requires the helmet to absorb a significant amount of the impact’s energy, the strap design to be well-secured, and the helmet’s field of vision to be sufficient, among other criteria.

Such helmet protects the rider’s head in the event of an accident, reducing the risk of injury or death. They absorb the maximum amount of the event’s energy, and significantly reduce the risk of head and brain injuries. All of this help minimize the risk of death for the rider.

Penalties for Not Wearing a Helmet in Missouri


Violation of Missouri’s helmet law can bring severe consequences for you to face. Here’s what you should know about the legal penalties.


Legal Penalties

In the state of Missouri, failing to comply with helmet laws can result in a variety of legal penalties. The severity of legal penalties depends on a number of factors, including whether it’s a first-time offense or a repeated violation and the circumstances of the violation. The penalties can include fines, points added to your driving record, and even a possible misdemeanor charge in some cases. You might also have to complete a motorcycle safety course if you violate the Federal Highway Funding Bill.

Not wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle in Missouri can also have significant implications on your insurance. As a high-risk rider, you will be subjected to high insurance premiums.


Impact of Not Wearing a Helmet on a Personal Injury Claim

Missouri follows the comparative fault system while determining liability in a personal injury matter. This means that if the injured rider was also at fault for the motorcycle accident, the amount of money they can receive as compensation might get reduced.

Not wearing a helmet might give a negative impression to the jury. They may consider it as carelessness, recklessness, or negligence toward one’s safety on the road. The other driver at fault may also use this point to their benefit. They will likely argue that the decision not to wear a motorcycle helmet contributed to the serious injuries sustained due to the accident. Wearing a helmet is a wise decision and is always recommended by health and safety experts.

You can hire a top motorcycle accident attorney to understand your legal rights and options in such cases.

Contact an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today

Even if the law does not require one to wear a helmet, it is recommended that you wear one. If you suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident, contact our experienced motorcycle accident lawyer today to learn how we can help you build your case, receive the rightful compensation, and secure your legal rights.

Regardless of whether or not you were wearing a helmet during the accident, our legal team at Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien, P.C. will help you investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident, determine fault, and claim the compensation you deserve.

We assist our clients in dealing with and negotiating with insurance companies. Our lawyers work tirelessly to ensure you do not settle for less than-fair compensation with the insurance company. Contact us today for an initial consultation.

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