Arkansas Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Under Arkansas law, you must wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle unless you’re over 21 years old.
Written by Maxine Boyko
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
, any motorcycle rider under 21 years of age is required by law to wear a helmet. 
Fourteen percent of all traffic fatalities in 2019 were attributed to motorcycle accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In an effort to reduce the motorcycle fatality rate, many states began introducing motorcycle helmet laws in the 1960s. 
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Do you have to wear a motorcycle helmet in Arkansas?

If you are under 21 years of age, you must wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle in Arkansas. 
On August 1, 1997, Arkansas repealed the universal helmet law they adopted in 1967. The since-amended law now requires only operators and passengers under the age of 21 to wear protective headgear while riding motorcycles, motor-driven cycles, and motorized bicycles on public streets and highways. 

Exceptions to Arkansas’ motorcycle helmet law

According to
Section 27-20-104(b)
of the Arkansas Transportation Code, the helmet law does not apply to persons older than 21 years of age. Operators and passengers of all ages, however, must wear protective eyewear such as glasses, goggles, or transparent face shields.
Additionally, if the following three conditions are met, Arkansas helmet law does not apply to riders: 
  • The motorcycle has three wheels, a closed cabin, and a windshield. 
  • The motorcycle does not exceed 20 horsepower. 
  • A municipal police department is using the motorcycle. 

Penalties for breaking Arkansas’ motorcycle helmet law

If you break Arkansas’ motorcycle helmet law, you could be charged with a misdemeanor, which carries penalties of $10 to $50 in fines and up to 30 days in prison.
Note that these charges will go on your driving record and may impact your insurance premiums.
Arkansas follows the
modified comparative negligence
rule. This rule allocates blame in an accident which may impact the monetary compensation you receive for injuries. In other words, if you violate the state’s motorcycle helmet laws, you could be held partially liable in court and be penalized through diminished (or eliminated) financial recovery benefits. 

Why it’s important to wear a motorcycle helmet

Wearing a helmet doesn’t just ward off fines and jail time—it also helps protect you from serious injury. Let’s look at the impacts of the 1997 universal helmet repeal on motorcyclists in Arkansas. 
Tragically, six years after Arkansas repealed the helmet law, medical researchers found that motorcyclists involved in crashes without protective headgear sustained significantly more severe head and neck injuries. Repealing the helmet law in Arkansas was also linked to an increase in the fatality rate of non-helmeted motorcycle crashes.
Broadly, studies have shown that helmets reduce the risk of death in a crash by up to 42 percent. Further, one study by the
found that wearing a helmet reduces your risk of sustaining brain injury by 69 percent. It’s clear—the best way to protect your health and life is by wearing a motorcycle helmet, even if you are over the age of 21. 
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