Wisconsin is one of nine states with a partial motorcycle helmet law. This means that only certain riders are required to wear head protection when operating their machines on public roads. Wisconsin’s helmet law applies to riders who hold learners permits or are under the age of 18. Motorcycle passengers under the age of 18 are also required to wear a helmet. Safety advocacy groups support helmet laws because about half of the motorcyclists killed on the nation’s roads each year lose their lives in accidents that involve no other vehicles.
Standards and penalties
Riders who are required to wear head protection in the Badger State must choose a helmet that meets or exceeds safety standards laid down by the U.S. Department of Transportation. They must also fasten the helmet’s chinstrap. Riders with motorcycles not equipped with a windshield at least 15 inches tall must wear goggles or a helmet with a face shield. The fine for violating Wisconsin’s helmet law is $30. Violators are also required to pay court costs and fees, which can raise the total expense to more than $100. However, violating the helmet law does not result in penalty points being added to the violator’s driver’s license.
Helmet laws have been challenged in the courts on constitutional grounds. In 1972, a Wisconsin circuit court judge ruled that the state’s motorcycle helmet and headlight laws do not violate rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. The decision was handed down three years after another Wisconsin judge ruled that police officers were authorized to enforce helmet laws because they protect all road users.
Advocating on behalf of motorcycle accident victims
Even the strongest and safest helmets may not be enough to protect riders involved in motorcycle accidents. When the facts suggest that such accidents were caused by inattentive or negligent passenger or commercial vehicle drivers, experienced personal injury attorneys may file civil lawsuits on behalf of those who harm. These lawsuits could seek compensation for an accident victim’s health care costs, pain and suffering, property damage and lost income.