Georgia's Helmet Law Explained
personally believe that it should be up to the individual whether or not to wear
a helmet. It is hard
to talk to more than a few riders without the topic of helmets coming up. Once
it does, you are likely to hear someone claim that in Georgia, you can get away
with wearing a ‘do rag’, hat, fake helmet or some other such item, and do
not have to wear protective eye gear because the Georgia Commissioner of Public
Safety never published a list of the ones which it approved. !
§ 40-6-315, the Official Code of Georgia reads as follows:
for motorcycle riders
No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless he or she is wearing
protective headgear which complies with standards established by the
commissioner of public safety.
No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle if the motorcycle is not
equipped with a windshield unless he or she is wearing an eye-protective device
of a type approved by the commissioner of public safety.
This Code section shall not apply to persons riding within an enclosed cab or
motorized cart. This Code section shall not apply to a person operating a
three-wheeled motorcycle used only for agricultural purposes.
The commissioner of public safety is authorized to approve or disapprove
protective headgear and eye-protective devices required in this Code section and
to issue and enforce regulations establishing standards and specifications for
the approval thereof. The commissioner shall publish lists of all protective
headgear and eye-protective devices by name and type which have been approved.
statute says that the Commissioner “shall
publish lists”. The Commissioner did not publish lists. As there are no lists,
so the myth goes is nothing is ‘disapproved’, anything goes. The
appellate courts of
of Georgia, Inc. v. Georgia, 264 F.3d 1315, *1316 (11th Cir. 2001),
the United States Court of Appeals for this circuit considered such challenges
to the statute. In response, the Court wrote and held:
first contends that the Board's failure to publish lists of approved headgear
and eye-protective devices violates Plaintiff's rights under the First, Fifth
and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Second, Plaintiff
contends that the statute is unconstitutionally vague. Plaintiff alleges that
the failure of the Board to publish a list of approved gear prevented ABATE's
members from knowing what equipment satisfies the statutory requirements
district court did not err in granting Defendants' motions to dismiss for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The statute
authorizes the promulgation of rules and regulations enacting standards. O.C.G.A.
§ 40-6-315. Standards have been promulgated and they require manufactures to
affix a permanent label to headgear and eye-protective devices showing
compliance with the applicable standards. See
GA. COMP. R. & REGS. r. 570-12-.01 et.
seq. (1999); See
id. at r. 570-13-.01 et
seq. Plaintiff asserts that the statute requires the Board to issue
lists approving specific types of headgear, which Dowis
Dowis v. State, 243
Georgia Court of Appeals decision which was cited as controlling in the Abate
case was Dowis
v. State, 243 Ga. App. 354, 533 S.E.2d 434, (2000). That decision
it might be debatable whether certain types of headgear complied with standards
established by Board of Public Safety, it
was absolutely clear that defendant's headgear, which consisted only of a cloth
bandana, did not comply with standards. O.C.G.A. §
is no first amendment right to ride a motorcycle wearing a baseball cap, a
bandana, or bareheaded and the