Michigan Motorcycle Helmet Laws

In Michigan, motorcyclists over the age of 21 can opt out of wearing a helmet if they have the proper coverage and have passed a motorcycle safety course.
Written by Joshua Levy
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
law dictates that any motorcyclist over the age of 21 can choose whether or not to wear a helmet if they meet certain criteria. But riding without a helmet without meeting these requirements is considered a civil infraction, which is punishable by fines.
In 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 14% of all traffic fatalities that year involved motorcycles. Given the potential for injury in motorcycle accidents, most states have passed laws that require riders to use helmets on the road.

Do you have to wear a motorcycle helmet in Michigan?

If you’re under the age of 21,
Michigan law
requires that you wear a motorcycle helmet while on the road. This same law applies to motorcycle passengers, who must always wear a motorcycle helmet if they’re under the age of 21.

Exceptions to Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law

The only exception to Michigan's motorcycle helmet laws is that riders over the age of 21 may decide whether or not to wear a helmet. However, motorcyclists must meet the following requirements to ride without a helmet:
  • Have at least $20,000 worth of first-party
    motorcycle insurance
  • Have passed a motorcycle safety course or held an endorsement for two years
The same laws apply to passengers as well, meaning anyone else riding on your motorcycle will be required to wear a helmet unless they meet the aforementioned criteria and are over 21 years old.
It’s also worth noting that anyone driving a moped must wear a helmet so long as they’re under the age of 19. 

Penalties for breaking Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law

In Michigan, failing to wear a helmet without meeting the requirements mentioned above is considered a civil infraction. While there isn’t a set fine for violating this law, you will likely face fines that reflect the extent of your wrongdoing.

Why it’s important to wear a motorcycle helmet

Outside the state-enforced penalties, wearing a helmet can help protect you from injury and even death. The
Center for Disease Control (CDC)
reported in 2016 that more than 1,850 motorcyclists in the US escaped fatal accidents because they were wearing helmets.
Had every driver been wearing a helmet, the CDC claims an additional 802 lives could have been saved. In specific numbers, helmets reduce the likelihood of motorcycle fatalities by 37% and head injuries by 69%.
Even now, the NHTSA believes motorcycle helmet laws are responsible for saving hundreds of lives each year in the United States. That said, wearing a helmet is important for keeping yourself and passengers safe on the road. Motorcycles are dangerous tools, but their risk can be largely mitigated by wearing the proper protective gear.
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