Ohio Motorcycle Helmet Laws

All Ohio motorcycle operators and riders under 18, plus all novice riders, must wear a helmet or risk a $75 fine and a misdemeanor charge.
Written by Jason Tushinski
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
, motorcycle helmets are required for all operators and riders 18 years old or younger and all operators categorized as “novices” on their motorcycle license. Violating this law can mean a fine of $75 and a minor misdemeanor charge or even more severe penalties.
Data from the
National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA)
shows that 14% of all motor vehicle fatalities involved motorcycles in 2019. Motorcycle-related fatalities have been an issue for decades, and states have been passing helmet laws since the 1960s to cut down on these deaths.
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Do you have to wear a motorcycle helmet in Ohio?

If you are 18 years of age or younger and are an operator or passenger on a motorcycle, you are required to wear a protective helmet with its chin strap fastened. 
All novice operators (no matter their age) are required to wear a helmet for the duration of their novice period. 
In addition, all operators must wear protective eye devices while riding a motorcycle, like a motorcycle helmet’s plastic visor or sunglasses. If your motorcycle has a windscreen, this satisfies the law.

Exceptions to Ohio’s motorcycle helmet law

Any operator or passenger over the age of 18 is not required to wear a helmet, so long as the operator is not a novice.

Penalties for breaking North Dakota’s motorcycle helmet law

A violation of Ohio’s motorcycle helmet law will bring a $75 fine as well as a minor misdemeanor charge. The penalty can be more severe under the following circumstances:
  • If an operator is charged with a helmet violation within one year of another traffic or motor vehicle violation, the charge becomes a 4th-degree misdemeanor.
  • A helmet violation within one year of 2 or more traffic or motor vehicle violations can raise a charge to a 3rd-degree misdemeanor.

Why it’s important to wear a motorcycle helmet

Besides being fined and charged with a misdemeanor for not wearing a motorcycle helmet, you can be seriously injured or killed if you’re not wearing a helmet and you’re involved in a motorcycle accident. Studies have shown that a motorcycle helmet can reduce the chances of serious injury or death by between 40% and 70%.
So, when did motorcycle helmets gain traction with operators and passengers? It’s taken a while, but the modern motorcycle helmet can be traced back to the mid-1930’s, after the death of British army officer and diplomat T.E. Lawrence, otherwise known as “Lawrence of Arabia.” Lawrence was
at age 46 after being involved in a motorcycle accident in which he was not wearing a helmet. Lawrence’s death spurred neurologist Hugh Cairns to begin pioneering research on the development of motorcycle helmets to prevent such tragedies from reoccurring—or at least to lessen their prevalence.
Today, the NHTSA estimates that hundreds of lives are saved each year due to the revolutionary technology of the motorcycle helmet. In states without universal helmet laws (such as Ohio), 52% of all motorcycle fatalities involved unhelmeted riders. In states with universal helmet laws, just 9% of all fatalities from motorcycle accidents were unhelmeted, as most operators and riders wear helmets.
In Ohio, where operators and riders over 18 are not required to wear helmets, 72% of all motorcycle fatalities were unhelmeted. Even though most riders are not required to wear helmets in Ohio, it is strongly recommended that you wear one. A motorcycle helmet can save your life.
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