Suffolk, VA Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Wearing a motorcycle helmet may save your life. It is also the law in Virginia. The roads of Suffolk are dangerous places for motorcyclists who need every item of protection they can get. It’s vital for motorcyclists to be familiar with Suffolk, VA motorcycle helmet laws and to realize it could result in a traffic violation or possibly affect an injury claim.
Motorcyclists love the freedom a bike gives them. The downside is the lack of protection afforded to riders. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the fatality rate in motorcycle accidents is about six times than that of drivers or passengers in cars.
Virginia saw a 17% spike in motorcycle accidents in 2021, as 102 riders lost their lives on the highways of the Commonwealth. Two motorcyclists died in Suffolk. Additionally, 1,682 riders or passengers on motorcycles suffered injuries in Virginia. Always contact a Suffolk motorcycle accident lawyer for help after sustaining a serious injury or losing a loved one on a motorcycle.
Is Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet Legally Required in Suffolk, VA?
Virginia is one of 18 states with a universal helmet law, meaning everyone who operates or rides a motorcycle in Suffolk or anywhere else in the state must always wear a helmet while their bike is moving. Under Virginia law, one must wear a helmet that conforms to certain safety standards. Section §46.2-910 states riders should wear a face shield, safety glasses, or goggles or have a motorcycle or autocycle equipped with safety glass or a windshield. The law applies to riders of most scooters or mopeds but not the e-scooters that have appeared in many Virginia cities in recent years.
The law states all operators and riders must wear a protective helmet either approved by the Superintendent of State Police before July 1, 1996, or one which meets safety standards set by the American National Standards Institute, Inc., the federal Department of Transportation, and/or the Snell Memorial Foundation.
What is the Penalty for Not Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet in Suffolk?
Failing to wear a motorcycle helmet while riding in Suffolk, or anywhere else in Virginia, can be punished by a $250 fine consistent with a Class 4 misdemeanor offense. It is also an offense to wear a helmet that does not comply with the required standards. People who sell protective helmets that fail to meet the Virginia safety standards also commit a class 4 misdemeanor.
Exceptions to Virginia Motorcycle Helmet Requirements
There are three limited, special circumstances that allow riders to be helmetless in Virginia.
- If the motorcycle has wheels with diameters of eight inches or less;
- If they are participating in an officially authorized parade and traveling no faster than 15 miles per hour; or
- If they are riding any autocycle or three-wheeled motorcycle with an enclosed body, windshield, and non-removable roof;
The attorneys at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers can explain Virginia’s motorcycle helmet laws in detail during a private and confidential consultation.
Do Riders who Fail to Wear Helmets Lose their Right to Sue in Virginia?
Virginia law states the failure to wear a face shield, safety glasses or goggles, or protective helmets “shall not constitute negligence per se in any civil proceeding.” This means you do not lose your right to sue an at-fault driver if you were not wearing a helmet at the time of a crash with injuries. This section in the code protects riders from Virginia’s strict contributory negligence rule. However, helmetless riders face real challenges when battling for compensation for head injuries. The insurance company could deny your claim or attempt to pressure you into taking a lower offer than you deserve. A jury may be less sympathetic to your case. An experienced Suffolk motorcycle accident lawyer will fight in your corner against an unsympathetic insurance company and make sure a strong case is presented to the jury.
Why You Should Wear a Motorcycle Helmet in Suffolk?
Suffolk has some deadly roads, including US 460 (Pruden Blvd) and US 58. The city also has an extensive network of rural roads with poor visibility and many curves where riders can get into trouble. Motorcyclists should resist the urge to ride without a helmet. According to the NHTSA, helmets save the lives of more than 1,800 people a year nationally. Research shows helmets reduce the risk of head injuries by 69% and the risk of death in a motorcycle accident by 42%, according to Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety.
Talk to an Attorney About Suffolk, VA Motorcycle Helmet Laws
The attorneys at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers have helped injured motorcyclists for over a decade. We have represented riders who ended up hurt in the City of Suffolk and the relatives of those who lost their lives. Motorcyclists are vulnerable to careless drivers who fail to notice them when making turns or drive them off Suffolk’s narrow, rural roads. Our firm is dedicated to the rights of motorcyclists in Suffolk. We have written a book about motorcycle accidents. Call us to discuss Suffolk, VA motorcycle helmet laws and schedule a free appointment at our meeting location at 215 Market Street in Suffolk or our main office in Norfolk.