|From: Red Barron firstname.lastname@example.org
RE: RED'S ORIGINAL BONEHEAD HELMET
To All Interested,
I recently went to trial on a helmet ticket concerning a helmet that my Mother manufactured for me out of a calcium-based material commonly referred to as my skull. The model of this helmet is RED'S ORIGINAL BONEHEAD HELMET, and has been properly certified by the manufacturer according to applicable statutes and standards. I was found guilty of violating CVC 27803(b) - the helmet law - and am waiting for a written ruling from Judge Sterling before I decide if I will pursue this case further, or go get another ticket and start all over.
This was the first time I have been in a Courtroom where the Municipal Court Judge, the Prosecutor and the Officer WERE ALL ON MY SIDE!! It was energizing and exciting to be a part of this trial. The Judge stated that he believed that the helmet law is unconstitutionally vague, and directed the prosecutor to show him where in the law does it require a motorcyclist to wear a helmet that meets Federal Standards. Section 27802 of the vehicle code states;
The department MAY adopt reasonable regulations establishing specifications and standards for safety helmets OFFERED FOR SALE, OR SOLD, for use by drivers and passengers of motorcycles and motorized bicycles as it determines are necessary for the safety of those drivers and passengers. The regulations SHALL include, but are not limited to, the requirements imposed by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218 (49 C.F.R. Sec. 571.218) and MAY include compliance with that federal standard for incorporation of its requirements by reference. . . . .etc.
The important wording for this case has been capitalized. Once I realized that the Judge wanted to find me not guilty and saw where he was going, I did my best to assist him. He believed that since the law was permissive (where it says MAY), rather than directive (where it says SHALL), he believed that the law stated that riders MAY be required to wear a helmet that met federal standards. In his opinion, if we MAY be required to wear a helmet, we also have the option of not wearing one! A law must be specific in the conduct it is meant to prohibit, and 27802 is not specific. The Judge took a recess and directed the prosecutor to read all case law concerning the helmet law to see if another (higher) court has interpreted this issue. The prosecutor found some somewhat ambiguous and misleading language in the Bianco vs. CHP decision that convinced the Judge he had no choice but to find me guilty, which he did with an apology. He was so focused on that one issue, he did not consider the fact that until a helmet is sold or offered for sale, the federal standards do not need to be met. Furthermore, he did not consider the fact that three was no evidence presented that my helmet had failed any test or been recalled. He stated on two occasions that "I must wear an additional (in addition to my skull) helmet". I have multiple grounds for appeal, and am considering the situation carefully. I also spoke to Steve Bianco to inform him of the proceedings, and he believes that we might be able to put Judge Sterling in a position that he can help end the helmet law through the courts, which I truly believe he would if he could!
That is the status of RED'S ORIGINAL BONEHEAD and the courts. If anyone has any questions feel free to contact me.
Ride Free - In Unity,
Editor's Note: Here's the language from the CVC:
California Vehicle Code - General Provisions
Shall and May