US States With No Motorcycle Helmet Laws
For a variety of reasons, the various states in the US have the right to make their own laws and regulations when it comes to governing the travel on roads within their states. And, so as a result, the laws of the various states differ yet the two biggest categories of helmet laws are those that fall into one of two groupings: 1) states the require universal usage of motorcycle helmets for all drivers and passengers and 2) states that require usage of motorcycle helmets for divers and passengers under a certain age (18 being the most common age requirement). There are however three US states that stand out as the only states that have no motorcycle helmet usage laws: Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire. Some of the reasons and history for these three exceptions are described below for your edification.
The Land of Lincoln, has had an interesting history when it comes to motorcycle helmet law within the state of Illinois. The state had a helmet law way back in 1967 yet it was quickly repealed by an Illinois Supreme Court ruling that it was unconstitutional. Yet in 1975, as the Federal Department of Transportation was prepared to penalize Illinois (and Colorado and Utah) for having no helmet laws, US Congress intervened and revised the Highway Safety Act to eliminate the penalties and as a result, Illinois has never had a motorcycle helmet law since.
No motorcycle helmet usage requirements in Illinois since 1969
The Hawkeye State had a very brief flirtation with a motorcycle rider helmet law as Iowa had such a law back in September 1975 but actually repealed that law less than a year later. Since that time there have been debates and movements to revisit that law yet the “no helmet law” situation has prevailed and at this point and Iowa is one of the three states in the USA with no motorcycle rider helmet law.
No motorcycle helmet usage requirements in Iowa since 1976
The Granite State (New Hampshire), true to its motto – Live Free or Die – stands alone as the only US state that has never had a law requiring motorcycle operator/passengers to wear a motorcycle helmet. And so today, they are one of the three states with no helmet laws. That doesn’t mean that the issue is settled or that it will remain unchanged as there have been efforts as recently as 2020 to establish motorcycle helmet law in New Hampshire.
No motorcycle helmet usage requirements in New Hampshire since forever!
Updates and corrections welcome
The current state of motorcycle helmet laws across the 50 US states is something that changes over time and has nuances that often are not described well by available governing resources. Therefore, if at any time you see something on this site that you feel is inaccurate we will welcome that information and take appropriate action if you will simply give us the information and the source(s) of motorcycle helmet law information you have. We do ask that you provide us with an authoritative source of information such as a government website or government office we can contact as non-government sources can provide information that simply is not verifiable. Either way, we hope you help keep this free and voluntary site of US motorcycle helmet law state information as valuable as possible.