Nevada Revised Statute 486.231 requires motorcycle drivers and passengers to wear helmets approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation. You must also wear goggles, glasses, or face shields if the vehicle has no transparent windscreen.
Failure to wear a helmet on a motorcycle is a civil infraction carrying
- a civil penalty as well as
- two demerit points by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles.
In this article, our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys will discuss the following 17 key things about Nevada motorcycle helmet laws:
- 1. Do I have to wear motorcycle helmets in Nevada?
- 2. How do I fight the charges?
- 3. What are the penalties for not wearing a motorcycle helmet in Las Vegas, Nevada?
- 4. Can I get the charge reduced to a non-moving violation?
- 5. How many points will go on my driver’s license?
- 6. Will my auto insurance rates go up?
- 7. Do I have to do traffic school?
- 8. What happens if I ignore my ticket?
- 9. What will happen to my commercial driver’s license?
- 10. What will happen to my out-of-state driver’s license?
- 11. When can I seal my case?
- 12. Will I get deported?
- 13. Should I fight my ticket or just pay?
- 14. Can I go to trial?
- 15. Do I need an attorney?
- 16. If a driver hits me while I am not wearing a helmet, can I file a lawsuit?
- 17. Related traffic violations
1. Do I have to wear motorcycle helmets in Nevada?
Yes. Nevada motorcycle helmet law requires motorcyclists and moped drivers on public roadways to wear “protective headgear securely fastened on the head” that fits U.S. Department of Transportation standards. If the motorcycle or moped has no transparent windscreen, you are also required to wear protective
- glasses, or
- face shields.
Note that drivers and passengers of motorcycles or mopeds are required to wear helmets. It makes no difference if you are driving slowly or there is no traffic.1
1.1. Helmet standards
You can still be cited for an NRS 486.231 violation if your motorcycle helmet does not meet the following standards as outlined by the Nevada Department of Transportation (DOT) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
- The helmet weighs a minimum of three (3) pounds.
- The helmet has an inner liner comprised of a minimum one-inch thick layer of firm polystyrene foam.
- The helmet has strong chin strips with secure rivets.
- Any extra components (such as ornaments) extend no further than two-tenths of an inch from the surface of the helmet.
- The helmet has a label by the manufacturer indicating its name, model type, year, and materials.
- The helmet has a sticker on the back imprinted with “DOT,” which certifies compliance with the Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standards.2
2. How do I fight the charges?
Some common defenses to NRS 486.231 allegations are:
- The vehicle was only a bike
- The vehicle was not on a public road
- You were falsely accused
Note that it is not a defense that the requirement to wear a helmet impinges on your constitutional rights.3
2.1. The vehicle was not a motorcycle
Nevada law does not require helmets for bicycles.4 If the police mistakenly cited you for not wearing a helmet while riding a non-motorcycle, the charge should be dismissed.
2.2. The vehicle was not on a public road
Nevada law requires helmets on motorcycles only on public roadways, such as city streets and highways.5 If the defense attorney can show that you wore no helmet only while on a private driveway, the case should be dismissed.
2.3. You were falsely accused
Sometimes people levy false accusations against others out of rage or revenge. If you are falsely accused of not wearing a motorcycle helmet, the defense attorney would get to work finding
- surveillance video, and
that prove the accuser was wrong.
3. What are the penalties for not wearing a motorcycle helmet in Las Vegas, Nevada?
The City of Las Vegas levies a $205 civil penalty for not wearing a helmet on a motorcycle.6 In the City of Reno, the civil penalty is much lower: $80.7. Every locality has its own penalty.
4. Can I get the charge reduced to a non-moving violation?
If you have a clean or minimal driving record, you have a very good chance of getting a motorcycle helmet charge reduced to a lesser charge or dismissed. Prosecutors do not want to go to trial, so they are usually amenable to hammering out a settlement that is favorable to you.
5. How many points will go on my driver’s license?
Not wearing a motorcycle helmet causes two (2) demerit points to go on your Nevada driver’s license.8 These points go away once one (1) year has passed.9
You are not in danger of losing your license unless you accumulate twelve (12) or more demerit points. At that point, the DMV will suspend your license for six (6) months. Though even then it may be possible to fight the suspension at a DMV hearing, which is similar to a trial but on a tinier scale.10
6. Will my auto insurance rates go up?
Yes. Not wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle in Nevada usually results in higher insurance premiums. That is why you are encouraged to fight your case in pursuit of a charge reduction or dismissal, which should have no insurance consequences.
7. Do I have to do traffic school?
Judges usually require just a civil penalty to close out a motorcycle helmet case. Though if you agree to do traffic school, the judge may be more willing to reduce the charge to a non-moving violation. This, in turn, may prevent
- insurance rate increases and
- demerit points.11
8. What happens if I ignore my case?
You can be assessed a late penalty if you do not pay your citation. The DMV may also suspend your license.12
9. What will happen to my commercial driver’s license?
The Nevada DMV treats commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) and non-commercial licenses the same. Therefore, you will have two (2) demerit points added to your CDL for not wearing a motorcycle helmet.13
10. What will happen to my out-of-state license?
Every state’s DMV has its own rules and regulations. Therefore, if you are an out-of-towner cited in Nevada for wearing no motorcycle helmet, you should consult with an attorney in your home state for more information.
11. When can I seal my case?
Civil infractions do not go on your criminal record. (Though if you fail to pay the penalty, a civil judgment can show up on your record.)
Civil infractions do go on your DMV driving record, and there is no way to seal this.15
12. Will I get deported?
No. Neglecting to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle is not a deportable offense.
That being said, immigration law is in a precarious state. So any immigrants facing charges should still seek out legal counsel no matter how minor the charges are.
13. Should I fight my charge or just pay?
Even though violating NRS 486.231 is not a major charge, it still may be worth fighting the case. There is a high likelihood that the D.A. will agree to dismiss the charge. If so, you may escape getting
- demerit points and
- a higher insurance premium.
14. Can I go to trial?
Yes, you can request a hearing to contest the citation. In practice, these cases rarely reach that point.16
15. Do I need a criminal defense attorney?
Hiring private counsel is always a wise idea for three main reasons:
- Defense attorneys are familiar with the local prosecutors and judges, and they know which strategies to use to coax out the best resolutions possible.
- Prosecutors are far more willing to reduce or dismiss charges when you are represented by counsel.
- Barring extenuating circumstances, if you lawyer up, you never have to see the inside of a courtroom again because the attorney can appear in court for you.
16. If I was not wearing a motorcycle helmet, can I still sue another driver for hitting me?
Yes, but not wearing a helmet may reduce the amount of damages you are entitled to. Las Vegas motorcycle accident attorney Michael Becker gives an example:
Example: John is driving a motorcycle without a helmet on the Strip. Jim is driving his SUV drunk and hits John. John sustains a brain injury and a pelvis injury. John sues Jim for violating Nevada’s negligence laws, and the case goes to trial.
The judge orders Jim to pay all of John’s medical expenses related to his pelvis but only half the medical expenses related to his brain. The judge’s reasoning is that John’s pelvis injuries would have been just as severe even if John had been wearing a helmet. However, John was partially responsible for the extent of his brain injuries for not wearing a helmet and therefore deserves less damages.
So under Nevada’s comparative negligence laws, you may be entitled to less compensatory damages if you sustain a head injury while not wearing a helmet.17 Learn more about our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys.
17. Other traffic violations
17.1. Not wearing a seat belt (NRS 484D.495)
Not wearing a seat belt carries a maximum $25 civil penalty and no demerit points. However, a first-time offense of improperly securing a child in a car seat carries up to a $500 civil penalty or 50 hours of community service.18
17.2. No due care to bicyclists (NRS 484B.270)
Failing to exercise due care to a cyclist is a misdemeanor if you cause an accident. A first-time offense carries a fine of $250 to $1,000. Additionally, the DMV adds four (4) demerit points to the person’s license.19
17.3. Texting while driving (NRS 484B.253)
Texting while operating a vehicle is a civil infraction. The first offense carries a $50 civil penalty. A successive offense carries a $100 civil penalty as well as four (4) driver’s license demerit points.20
Traffic ticket? Call a Nevada traffic defense attorney…
Were you cited in Nevada for not wearing proper motorcycle headgear? Then our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys can talk to you about how we can help. We will fight to get your citation dismissed or reduced.
Also see our article on Nevada motorcycle safety laws, with information about skills tests for class M licenses (motorcycle licenses) and regulations regarding handlebars, footrests, reflectors, and turn signals.
Cited in California? Visit our page on Vehicle Code 27803 VC.
Cited in Colorado? Contact our Denver traffic attorneys.
- NRS 486.231 Protective headgear and glasses: Standards; when use required. 1. The Department shall adopt standards for protective headgear and protective glasses, goggles or face shields to be worn by the drivers and passengers of motorcycles and transparent windscreens for motorcycles. 2. Except as provided in this section, when any motorcycle, except a trimobile or moped, is being driven on a highway, the driver and passenger shall wear protective headgear securely fastened on the head and protective glasses, goggles or face shields meeting those standards. Drivers and passengers of trimobiles shall wear protective glasses, goggles or face shields that meet those standards. 3. When a motorcycle or a trimobile is equipped with a transparent windscreen meeting those standards, the driver and passenger are not required to wear glasses, goggles or face shields. 4. When a motorcycle is being driven in a parade authorized by a local authority, the driver and passenger are not required to wear the protective devices provided for in this section. 5. When a three-wheel motorcycle on which the driver and passengers ride within an enclosed cab is being driven on a highway, the driver and passengers are not required to wear the protective devices required by this section. Nevada DMV Violation Codes; the Nevada DMV considers unsafe turning on highway as Failure to Yield Right of Way, Violation Code 421 or ACD Code N01. See also NRS 486.038 “Moped” defined. “Moped” means a motor-driven scooter, motor-driven cycle or similar vehicle that is propelled by a small engine that produces not more than 2 gross brake horsepower, has a displacement of not more than 50 cubic centimeters or produces not more than 1500 watts final output, and: 1. Is designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground but is not a tractor; and 2. Is capable of a maximum speed of not more than 30 miles per hour on a flat surface with not more than 1 percent grade in any direction when the motor is engaged.–> The term does not include an electric bicycle as defined in NRS 483.067. NRS 486.057 “Trimobile” defined. “Trimobile” means every motor vehicle designed to travel with three wheels in contact with the ground, at least one of which is power-driven. The term does not include a motorcycle with a sidecar. AB 116 (2021).
- Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standards No. 218 (49 CFR Sec. 571.218); see Nevada DMV Motorcycle Operator Manual; NV Attorney Genera Opinion No. 2002-41(“Helmets that comply with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standards can be identified through examination of the mandatory stickers and the construction of the helmet. Furthermore, as more fully explained above, the best way to differentiate between a helmet that complies and one that does not is the presence, or absence, of the material used to attenuate impact in the event of a crash, including a chinstrap. However, the Office of the Attorney General recommends that a change be made to the current statutes through a graduated system of fines and education of the motorcycle riding public, which would also serve to make enforcement easier. These changes will provide the motorcycle riding public with incentives to ensure that they purchase helmets that conform to the safety standards set forth in Nevada and Federal law.”).
- State v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court (1985) 101 Nev. 658, 708 P.2d 1022 (“Statute was legitimate exercise of state’s power to preserve and improve public health, safety, morals and general welfare. NRS 486.231, which requires drivers and passengers of motorcycles to wear protective headgear when operating motorcycle on highway, was legitimate exercise of state’s power to preserve and improve public health, safety, morals and general welfare…Statute did not violate right to privacy. NRS 486.231, which requires drivers and passengers of motorcycles to wear protective headgear when operating motorcycle on highway, did not violate defendant’s right to privacy under U.S. 9th amendment or Nev. Art. 1, s 20, because right to be left alone did not include right to do as one pleases on public highway.”)
- See Nevada DMV bike safety flyer.
- NRS 486.231.
- NRS 486.381 Violation of provisions concerning motorcycles and similar vehicles. Any person violating any provisions of NRS 486.011 to 486.361, inclusive, is guilty of a civil infraction unless a provision of those sections specifically provides that a particular violation is a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or felony; Las Vegas Municipal Bail Schedule & Sentencing Guidelines; The violation code is for “Hdgear-Glasses/Shields Helmet Fastened” is 1307.
- Reno Municipal Bail Schedule; the violation code for “Safety equipment on motorcycles” is 6.06.685.
- Nevada DMV Violation
- NRS 483.475.
- NAC 483.500; NAC 483.510; NAC 483.764.
- NRS 483.475. See, for example, Traffic School Information, North Las Vegas Municipal Court; Las Vegas Justice Court Traffic School.
- See also Nevada DMV Suspension Information Page. NRS 484C.7047.
- NAC 483.500; NAC 483.510.
- NRS 179.245. NRS 179.255.
- Nevada Official Driving Records Online, Nevada DMV
- Sixth Amendment.
- NRS 41.141.
- Las Vegas Municipal Bail Schedule & Sentencing Guidelines; Nevada DMV Violation Codes.