Missouri Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Missouri does not require drivers to wear a motorcycle if they are 26 or older with a standard operating license. Passengers 26 or older are also exempt.
Written by Pat Roache
Reviewed by Jessa Claeys
state law, drivers and passengers riding in a
on state highways are only required to wear a motorcycle helmet if they are 25 or younger or only have their learner’s permit.
Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that 14% of traffic-related fatalities in 2019 were caused by motorcycle accidents. Helmet laws at the state level are intended to improve safety and reduce deaths, although some state laws are more stringent than others.

Do you have to wear a motorcycle helmet in Missouri?

You have to wear a motorcycle helmet in Missouri if you are younger than 26 or still driving with a learner’s permit. The law applies to drivers and passengers on both motorcycles and motortricycles.
Motorcycle operators who are required to or choose to wear a motorcycle helmet in Missouri should wear one with a “DOT-certified” label. This label shows that the manufacturer meets NHTSA safety standards and the legal standards for “protective headgear.”

Exceptions to Missouri motorcycle helmet law

Anyone 26 or older with a standard operating license is exempt from Missouri’s motorcycle helmet law. The revision to
Title 19.302.020
went into effect on Aug. 28, 2020, much to the chagrin of the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Penalties for breaking Missouri’s motorcycle helmet law

If you are caught breaking Missouri’s motorcycle helmet law, you’ll be charged with an infraction punishable by fines up to $25.
The helmet law in Missouri is a secondary enforcement offense, meaning that a police officer cannot pull you over solely based on suspicion of breaking the helmet law. To be caught breaking the helmet law, you would have to be pulled over first for a primary enforcement offense (i.e., speeding, reckless driving, etc.)

Why it’s important to wear a motorcycle helmet

Even in states with stricter requirements and harsher penalties, the most significant risk of not wearing a motorcycle helmet goes beyond fees and legal charges. Wearing a motorcycle helmet reduces your chance of an accident-related head injury by 69% and your chance of death by 42%.
Because the laws in Missouri are lenient and hard to enforce, the state is at a much higher risk of unhelmeted fatalities. The state saw a 41% increase in motorcycle fatalities within the first year of the helmet law’s revision. Unfortunately, all motorcyclists are at risk from other drivers who fail to see them or look out for them, and helmets are there to help protect them in the event of an accident. 
Riders who opted not to wear a helmet were overwhelmingly part of this spike in motorcycle fatalities—there was a staggering 800% increase in unhelmeted fatalities within a year of the new legislation. 
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