Mandatory Helmet Law

Massachusetts



STATUTE:

Title XIV. Public Ways and Works Chapter 90. Motor Vehicles and Aircraft. Section 7. Brakes, braking systems, mufflers, horns, lights, audible warning systems, and other equipment; compliance with safety standards; stickers and emplems. :

FINE:

Fine for 1st offense is $35, with a "step" increase on driving records resulting in an insurance surcharge for 6 or 7 years. Second offense is $75 to $100, with another "step" increase as above. Plus potential costs for towing bike from scene.

STANDARDS:

Title XIV. Public Ways and Works Chapter 90. Motor Vehicles and Aircraft. Section 7. Brakes, braking systems, mufflers, horns, lights, audible warning systems, and other equipment; compliance with safety standards; stickers and emplems. :

COURT DECISIONS:

"Provision of this section requiring motorcyclists to wear protective headgear is not violative of due process, notwithstanding claim that police power does not extend to overcoming right of an individual to incur risks that involve only himself, since public has an interest in minimizing resources directly involved, in that from moment of injury, society picks the person up off the highway, delivers him to a municipal hospital and municipal doctors, provides him with unemployment compensation if, after recovery, he cannot replace his lost job, and, if injury causes permanent disability, assumes responsibility for his and his family's continued subsistence." Simon v. Sargent, D.C.Mass.1972, 346 F.Supp. 277, affirmed 93 S.Ct. 463, 409 U.S. 1020, 34 L.Ed.2d 312.

"Provision of this section requiring motorcyclists to wear protective headgear does not deny equal protection, in that rational basis exists for legislature's distinction between motorcyclists and, for example, automobile drivers, whose vehicle affords them substantially more protection than does a motorcycle." Simon v. Sargent, D.C.Mass.1972, 346 F.Supp. 277, affirmed 93 S.Ct. 463, 409 U.S. 1020, 34 L.Ed.2d 312.

"In enacting provision of this section requiring motorcyclists to wear protective headgear, it was not unreasonable for the Legislature to link protective headgear to safer motorcycling." Simon v. Sargent, D.C.Mass.1972, 346 F.Supp. 277, affirmed 93 S.Ct. 463, 409 U.S. 1020, 34 L.Ed.2d 312.

"Requirement of this section of protective headgear for a motorcyclist but not for a rider of a "motorized bicycle * * * which is capable of a maximum design speed of no more than twenty-five miles per hour" was not a classification unjustified by any conceivable set of facts or findings such as would violate equal protection." Com. v. Guest (1981) 425 N.E.2d 779, 12 Mass.App.Ct. 941.

"This section and implementing regulation requiring motorcyclists to wear protective headgear did not conflict with nor were preempted by 15 U.S.C.A. s 1392 which merely set standards for helmets designed for use by motorcyclists." Com. v. Guest (1981) 425 N.E.2d 779, 12 Mass.App.Ct. 941.

"This section, which requires operator of motorcycle to wear protective headgear does not result in an unconstitutional denial of the right of privacy." Com. v. Cowan (1976) 344 N.E.2d 419, 4 Mass.App.Ct. 796.

"Although issue of right of privacy was not explicitly mentioned in Supreme Judicial Court's decision upholding, as against constitutional challenges, this section requiring that operator of motorcycle wear protective headgear, where the defendant in the prior case raised the issue by brief and quoted from relevant United States Supreme Court decisions, Appeals Court would treat the Supreme Judicial Court's decision as authoritative on the right to privacy issue." Com. v. Cowan (1976) 344 N.E.2d 419, 4 Mass.App.Ct. 796.

"This section requiring motorcyclist to wear protective headgear conforming with certain minimum standards bears real and substantial relation to public health and general welfare and is a valid exercise of police power." Com. v. Howie (1968) 238 N.E.2d 373, 354 Mass. 769, certiorari denied 89 S.Ct. 485, 393 U.S. 999, 21 L.Ed.2d 464.

See Simon v. Sargent above.

"It lies within power of Legislature to adopt reasonable measures for promotion of safety upon public ways in interests of motorcyclists and others who may use them." Com. v. Howie (1968) 238 N.E.2d 373, 354 Mass. 769, certiorari denied 89 S.Ct. 485, 393 U.S. 999, 21 L.Ed.2d 464.

None of these decisions, or any other we can find, say that motorcyclists don't have a right to know, with certainty, what "protective headgear" is, if the law is going to them to "wear protective headgear".


CURRENT ACTIVITY:

HB 206 - 1/20/04 - HB 206 - passed the Senate and goes to the Governor who has 10 days to sign. HB 206 gives Freedom of Choice for riders 18 years or older riding in publicly permitted parades.

If he veto's the bill, it goes back to the House where 2/3's of the 160 members must vote to over-ride his veto.  If accomplished, then the same is needed in the Senate.

The Governor's reps advised he would not take a public position on 206 until it reached his desk. If you ride in MA now is the time to contact the Governor's Office. For more info and how to get involved, where to write, what to write visit the Massachusettes MMA website.

Insurance Lawsuit - 12/12/03 - MMA to sue the state of MA over unfair insurance practices that withhold discounts given to car and truck owners.

Helmet Regulations in Conflict - 11/26/03 - Per Paul Cote, regarding their appeal, the Court concluded the MA Regulation for motorcycle helmets IS IN CONFLICT with the Federal Standards and the MMA had authority to bring the lawsuit on behalf of its members.

Sept 5 - 7, 2003 - Freedom Ride from MA to PA to celebrate PA's Adult Freedom of Choice WIN and to promote awareness for Freedom of Choice for ALL riders in MA, CT, NY and NJ.

July 31, 2003 - ABATE of MA merges into MMA effective 12/31/03; MMA to Support PAC!

HB 206 allows motor cyclists participating in public parades to be exempt from the helmet law.

HB 207 regulates the wearing of helmets for passengers and operators of motorcycles.

HB 208 regulates the use of protective headgear for persons riding on motorcycles.


RECENT ACTIVITY:

April 22, 2002 - SB1266 - placed with the Senate Way & Means Committee. They indend to 'study' the 'burden to society' caused by helmet-less riders. Specifically, the increased insurance and medical costs they believe will be incurred. A helmet mod bill has not progressed this far in 20 years!

April 2, 2002 - SB1266 - the Joint Committee for Public Safety voted a favorable "Ought to Pass" recommendation for SB 1266!

May 30, 2001 - Helmet confiscation and Bike towing no longer allowed per MA State Police memo

Jan 3, 2001 SB-1266 - a 21 Helmet Mod Bill. Referred to Public Safety committee. Bill Updater.

Jan 3, 2001 SB-1267 - a bill prohibiting ticketing for helmets that may not be in conformity with FMV218 except with proof the operator has actual knowledge of a determination of non-conformity. Referred to Public Safety committee. Bill Updater.

Jan 3, 2001 HB-1263 Rep Christine Canavan. Petition filed at the request of Brian Chapman relative to the motorcycle helmet law. 01/03/01 Referred to the committee onPublic Safety. 01/03/01 S Senate concurred Public Hearing date Mar 29. Bill Updater.


RECENT ACTIVITY:

July 28, 2000 - Press Release: Law Offices of Joseph S. Provanzano about the Appeals Court win, upcoming Federal lawsuit and fund raiser efforts.

July 28, 2000 - Press Release: Southern District Appellate Division of District Courts overturns 2 citations issued by the MSP.


WEBSITES:


-- DISCLAIMER --

The foregoing is provided as educational information only and is not legal advice.