Court upholds motorcycle helmet law


June 7, 2000

RALEIGH. The state Court of Appeals upheld North Carolina's motorcycle helmet law yesterday in an appeal by 11 motorcyclists ticketed two years ago in Craven County for not wearing helmets.

The riders, convicted in District Court, appealed to Superior Court in 1999, arguing that the state's helmet law is unconstitutionally vague. The Superior Court found for the motorcyclists, but the state took the case to the appeals court, which reversed the Superior Court ruling.

The helmet issue is being debated in the General Assembly. Motorcycle riders are pushing for legislation to allow them to ride without helmets under certain conditions.

In its opinion, the appeals court said that North Carolina law specifically requires that operators and passengers on motorcycles must wear helmets approved by the DMV.

"The right of the State to impose, in the exercise of its police powers, such a requirement on motorcycle riders was settled by our Supreme Court more than three decades ago," the three-judge panel of the appeals court wrote.

"Here, respondents do not deny that they were aware of the requirement that motorcyclists wear safety helmets. . . . A person of reasonable intelligence would understand that a failure to wear some type of safety helmet would be prohibited under North Carolina law."

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