North Carolina Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Under North Carolina law, all motorcycle drivers and passengers, regardless of age, must wear a helmet that complies with federal safety standards.
Written by Jason Tushinski
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Under North Carolina law, all motorcycle and moped drivers and passengers of all ages must wear safety helmets that comply with the
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218
Data from the
National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA)
demonstrates that motorcycle accidents were responsible for about 14% of all motor vehicle fatalities in 2019. States have been attempting to lower such statistics since the 1960s by passing various motorcycle helmet laws.
The driving expert and
car insurance
comparison app
has put together this handy article with everything you need to know about North Carolina’s motorcycle helmet laws. We’ll go over the basics of the law, any exceptions to it, and the penalties for violating the law in the Tar Heel State.
Before we finish, we'll even fill you in on how to lower your
North Carolina insurance costs
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Do you have to wear a motorcycle helmet in North Carolina?

Yes—in North Carolina, all motorcycle drivers and passengers are required by law to wear a properly fitting and federally-compliant safety helmet. 
In particular, motorcycle helmets must meet the following conditions:
  • Have a firm inner lining at least 1 inch thick
  • DOT symbol must be permanently installed by the manufacturer at the back of the helmet
  • Any separate DOT symbols bought and placed separately on the helmet are not compliant
  • The helmet’s permanently attached inner label must have the following information:
  • Manufacturer name or ID
  • Precise model
  • Helmet size
  • Date of manufacture
  • Type of shell and liner construction materials
  • Instruction label for cleaning and care of helmet

Exceptions to North Carolina’s motorcycle helmet law

Under North Carolina law, all motorcycle drivers and passengers are required by law to wear proper helmets—there are no exceptions to this rule.

Penalties for breaking North Carolina’s motorcycle helmet law

If you’re caught violating North Carolina’s helmet law, an infraction will be issued along with a fine of $25.50, plus any additional costs. No points will be assessed for this infraction.

Why it’s important to wear a motorcycle helmet

A mere $25 fine isn’t the only possible consequence of not wearing a helmet in North Carolina—severe injury or death are potential outcomes from riding a motorcycle without a helmet. 
No matter who you are, riding a motorcycle without a helmet can easily go awry—T.E. Lawrence, the British army officer and diplomat known as “Lawrence of Arabia,” was killed in 1935 after a
motorcycle accident
, and he was not wearing a helmet. He was just 46 years old. Following this high-profile accident, neurologist Hugh Cairns undertook pioneering research on motorcycle helmets to protect riders and prevent these accidents.
How to report a hit and run
According to the NHTSA, motorcycle helmets save hundreds of lives each year. In states without universal helmet laws, more than 57% of all motorcycle fatalities were operators or passengers not wearing helmets. In states with universal helmet laws, the figure is just 9%.
In North Carolina, unhelmeted riders made up just 9% of all motorcycle-related deaths out of 208 fatal motorcycle accidents—this is due to the fact that the vast majority of North Carolina riders wear helmets. Wearing a helmet is by far the best way to protect yourself whenever you’re on a motorcycle, as a driver or a passenger. In North Carolina, it's the law.

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The best way to protect yourself on a motorcycle is to wear a helmet, plain and simple! Another important way to protect yourself while driving (or riding) is with a robust and affordable
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