The Passage of A New North Carolina Law
On 19 July 2007, the North Carolina General Assembly ratified HB 563 which
included a section requiring all riders and passengers on motorcycles to wear
USDOT FMVSS 218 safety helmets as standard safety equipment. The Governor signed
the bill into law and it becomes enforceable in January 2008.
This law was passed through political partisan maneuvers. Political partisanship
nullified the reasoned decisions of informed committee members. Back-room
political manipulations, designed to support special interests, were used to
force party members to vote along “party-lines” regardless of the facts of the
During bill consideration, the Judiciary Committee of the NC Senate reviewed the
arguments and facts presented by both sides of this issue. The committee
deliberated and determined that this was a bad law. The majority of the members
of the committee voted to remove the section pertaining to FMVSS 218 compliance.
The section pertaining to FMVSS 218 compliance was placed back in the bill on
the floor of the Senate Chamber with little debate and, no discussion of the
facts presented by representatives of the affected citizens. In other words…
this law is a Totalitarian Act being imposed on the citizens of North Carolina
without our consent and in direct conflict with our expressed interests!
CBA NC Helmet Citation Defense
CBA/ABATE is not anti-helmet… we are pro-rider-choice. However, CBA/ABATE is
adamantly opposed to any totalitarian act, and believes that it is important to
continue this fight in the courts. In order to help citizens defend themselves
against this abomination, CBA/ABATE of NC has formed the "Helmet Citation
The purpose of this committee is to develop and disseminate information and
materials to be used by individuals, in the legal battle in court against the
increasingly more oppressive helmet laws of North Carolina. A special financial
fund has also been established, to assist with organizational costs for legal
counsel, materials, and procedures that may be involved in CBA sanctioned legal
Assistance and Support are Available
The recently formed NC Helmet Citation Defense Project (HCDP) has leaped forward
under the dynamic leadership of Chairperson Susan Huttman of the Hickory Chapter
of the CBA/ABATE of NC. HCDP Team members are well prepared to assist and
support fellow riders who receive a helmet citation and wish to present their
own defense in court. Bear in mind… Team members are not lawyers, nor legal
professionals; they are simply concerned bikers, preparing their own defense,
who are willing to share their materials, knowledge, and experience with others
of like mind.
Contact a member of your local CBA/ABATE chapter, or attend a local chapter
meeting to share in the free information and see what CBA is doing for all
bikers in NC. We hope your visit will help to encourage you to fight the
citation in court.
North Carolina’s new motorcycle safety helmet law dictates the following:
The operator of a motorcycle, and all passengers thereon, must wear on their
heads, with a retention strap properly secured, safety helmets of a type that
complies with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218.
FMVSS 218 is not a federal law, nor is it a construction standard. This
manufacturer’s helmet-performance-standard was developed in the 1950's, is
obsolete, unnecessary, fiscally irresponsible, and restricts the free enterprise
system by reducing the need for industry to develop higher quality, more
comfortable and safer helmets.
Compliance cannot be determined by visually inspecting a helmet. FMVSS 218 is an
engineering performance standard, not a consumer compliance standard.
o Results of manufacturer certified helmet testing conducted by NHTSA between
1980 and 1994 reveal that 68% of the helmets tested failed.
o The most recent NHTSA test of 350 helmets revealed that 50 of these
helmets also failed (15%). That means that, after intensive remediation on the
part of the federal government, 15 out of every 100 helmets on the market (that
are certified to meet these standards) are still non-compliant.
o When the DOT identifies non-compliant helmets, they do not issue a recall, nor
do they follow-up on manufacturer’s recall
CBA/ABATE of NC suggests mandating compliance with FMVSS 218 standards requires
citizens to comply with a law which is not only dangerous, but constitutionally
vague, unenforceable, and violates the principles of due process guaranteed all
citizens by the Constitutions of the United States and North Carolina.
pays to fight the battle in the courtroom.
The state of North Carolina has established that the cost of a helmet violation
is $100. The fine is $25 and the court costs are $75. The fine for a helmet
violation for a passenger is $10… there are no court costs for passenger
helmet-violations. If you appear in court to defend against the citation, and
are found guilty, it still costs the same… However, if you challenge the
citation and win, it costs you nothing.
We are not attorneys, however, in a CBA/ABATE independent review of the
language in GS 20-140.4 (a) we find it to be unconstitutionally vague and,
to the Supreme Court of the United States: “It is a basic principle of due
process that an enactment is void for vagueness if its prohibitions are not
clearly defined. Vague laws offend several important values. First, because we
assume that man is free to steer between lawful and unlawful conduct, we insist
that laws give the person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to
know what is prohibited, so that he may act accordingly. Vague laws may trap the
innocent by not providing fair warning. Second, if arbitrary and discriminatory
enforcement is to be prevented, laws must provide explicit standards for those
who apply them. A vague law impermissibly delegates basic policy matters to
policemen, judges, and juries for resolution on an ad hoc and subjective basis,
with the attendant dangers of arbitrary and discriminatory application.”
Grayned, v City of Rockford (1971)
in order for a law to be constitutional, an average person of reasonable
intelligence must be able to answer the following question: “What is Federal
Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218, and how can I ensure that I comply
with it?” Having reviewed FMVSS 218 criterion and procedures, we find that:
a) FMVSS 218 is a manufacturing standard understood only by engineers and the
b) FMVSS 218 is not a consumer law;
c) The average person of reasonable intelligence cannot possibly ensure
d) Law enforcement officers are not capable of roadside testing of safety
helmets to ensure compliance.
Therefore, on behalf of the motorcycling community of North Carolina CBA/ABATE
of NC respectfully requests:
If you have been cited for a helmet violation, please take your citation to
court and defend yourself against this vague, unenforceable, discriminatory and
dangerous law. CBA/ABATE of NC has developed a team of freedom loving
individuals who are willing to help you prepare for a court appearance.
CBA/ABATE chapter in NC is designating a chapter project liaison to manage
materials, educate riders, and collect information from cited members and other
riders in their communities who choose to pursue a defense against citations
issued under the parameters of this oppressive law.
Members of the HCDP are scheduling presentations at CBA/ABATE chapter meetings,
and will entertain invitations to meet with any motorcycle organization to,
share ideas, materials, and help to coordinate your organization’s activities.
However, please keep in mind the following:
The materials created by the Team were developed using legal arguments and
materials that have demonstrated success in North Carolina Courts. The new law
(requiring DOT FMVSS 218 compliant helmets) goes into effect in January. We are
continually reviewing precedent setting cases from other states, and modifying
our legal strategy as appropriate.
the meantime, if you are stopped for a suspected helmet law violation, here are
some things to remember:
1. Don't volunteer any information. Avoid chit-chat, as you may say the wrong
2. Always refer to your headgear as a "safety-helmet".
3. Do not admit knowledge of committing any violation.
4. If questioned, tell the officer you believe your helmet complies with current
5. Ask the reason you were pulled over (articulable suspicion).
6. Ask the officer exactly how and why he concluded the helmet law had been
7. If threatened with being detained; Ask what legal authority there is to
prevent you from proceeding without a different helmet, and/or for impounding
the bike – "Officer, would you impound my car or prevent me from leaving if my
tailight was out?"
8. If the officer continues to detain you, Ask the officer, "Am I under arrest?"
9. Remember to be respectful and courteous. In the majority of traffic stops,
the officer is just doing his job... enforcing the law.
10. As soon as possible, after departing the scene, pull over and write the
details of the incident down. Call 919-662-6229 and report the incident.
find out more about the Helmet Citation Defense Project and/or schedule a
presentation for your motorcycle organization contact any member of your local
CBA/ABATE chapter or contact Bill Starnes at:
lifestyle, YOUR decision, and YOUR Freedom.