The Short Version
Whenever the red lights are flashing, you pull over and the police car stops behind you, legally,
technically, you are "
under arrest." You will find the Vehicle Code uses the term "under arrest"
interchangeable with  "pulled over and ticketed."
Emphasis on this page is added for clarity and simplicity.
California Vehicle Code
Division 12

                        Helmets   (the "helmet seller" law)
27802. (a) The department (meaning the CHP, not your local PD) may adopt reasonable
regulations establishing specifications and standards for safety helmets
offered for sale, or sold,
for use by drivers and passengers of motorcycles and motorized bicycles as it determines are
necessary for the safety of those drivers and passengers. The regulations shall include, but are
not limited to, the requirements imposed by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218 (
C.F.R. Sec. 571.218) and may include compliance with that federal standard by incorporation of
its requirements by reference.
Each helmet sold or offered for sale for use by drivers and
passengers of motorcycles and motorized bicycles shall be conspicuously labeled in
accordance with the federal standard which shall constitute the manufacturer's certification that
the helmet conforms to the applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards.

(b) No person shall
sell, or offer for sale, for use by a driver or passenger of a motorcycle or
motorized bicycle any safety helmet which is not of a type meeting requirements established by
the department.

                                The helmet law for "riders"
27803. (a) A driver and any passenger shall wear a safety helmet meeting requirements
established pursuant to Section 27802 when riding on a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or
motorized bicycle.

(b) It is unlawful to operate a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle if the driver or
any passenger is not wearing a safety helmet as required by subdivision (a).

(c) It is unlawful to ride as a passenger on a motorcycle, motor-driven cycles, or motorized
bicycle if the driver or any passenger is not wearing a safety helmet as required by subdivision

(d) This section applies to persons who are riding on motorcycles, motor-driven cycles, or
motorized bicycles operated on the highways.

(e) For the purposes of this section, "wear a safety helmet" or "wearing a safety
helmet" means having a safety helmet meeting the requirements of Section 27802
the person's head
that is fastened with the helmet straps and that is of a size that fits
the wearing person's head securely without excessive lateral or vertical movement.

(f) In enacting this section, it is the intent of the Legislature to ensure that all persons are
provided with an additional safety benefit while operating or riding a motorcycle, motor-driven
cycle, or motorized bicycle.
California Law makes helmet violations "fix-it" tickets (correctable).

California Vehicle Code   
Division 17
Notice to Correct Violation for Specified Infractions

40303.5.    Whenever any person is arrested for any of the following offenses, the arresting officer shall permit the
arrested person to execute a notice containing
a promise to correct the violation in accordance with the provisions of
40610 unless the arresting officer finds that any of the disqualifying conditions specified in subdivision (b) of
40610 exist:

(a) Any registration infraction set forth in Division 3 (commencing with Section 4000).
(b) Any driver's license infraction set forth in Division 6 (commencing with Section 12500), and subdivision (a) of
Section 12951, relating to possession of driver's license.
(c) Section 21201, relating to bicycle equipment.

(d) Any infraction involving equipment set forth in Division 12 (commencing with Section 24000
            (Where the helmet law is found.)),
Division 13 (commencing with Section 29000), Division 14.8 (commencing with Section 34500),
Division 16 (commencing with Section 36000), Division 16.5 (commencing with Section 38000), and
Division 16.7 (commencing with Section 39000).

Amended Ch. 258, Stats. 1992. Effective January 1, 1993.

Notice to Correct Violation

40610.   (a) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), if, after an arrest, accident investigation, or other law enforcement
action, it appears that
a violation has occurred involving a registration, license, all-terrain vehicle safety certificate, or
mechanical requirement of this code,
and none of the disqualifying conditions set forth in subdivision (b) exist and the
investigating officer
decides to take enforcement action, the officer shall prepare, in triplicate, and the violator shall sign,
a written notice containing the violator’s
promise to correct the alleged violation and to deliver proof of correction of the
violation to the issuing agency.

(2) If any person is arrested for a violation of Section 4454, and none of the disqualifying conditions set forth in
subdivision (b) exist, the arresting officer shall prepare, in triplicate, and the violator shall sign, a written notice
containing the violator's promise to correct the alleged violation and to deliver proof of correction of the violation to the
issuing agency. In lieu of issuing a notice to correct violation pursuant to this section, the officer may issue a notice to
appear, as specified in Section 40522.

(b) Pursuant to subdivision (a), a notice to correct violation shall be issued as provided in this section or a notice to
shall be issued as provided in Section 40522, unless the officer finds any of the following:

(1) Evidence of fraud or persistent neglect.

) The violation presents an immediate safety hazard.

) The violator does not agree to, or cannot, promptly correct the violation.

(c) If any of the conditions set forth in subdivision (b) exist, the procedures specified in this section or Section 40522 are
inapplicable, and the officer may take other appropriate enforcement action.

(d) Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (a), the notice to correct violation shall be on a form approved by the
Judicial Council and, in addition to the owner’s or operator’s address and identifying information, shall contain an
estimate of the reasonable time required for correction and proof of correction of the particular defect, not to exceed 30
days, or 90 days for the all-terrain vehicle safety certificate.

Amended Sec. 27, Ch. 908, Stats. 2004. Effective January 1, 2005.
There is no such animal as a 'DOT Approved' helmet.
You got ticketed for not wearing a DOT Approved helmet?
What is a DOT Approved helmet?
We will show how the DOT answers that question.

Click on each of the
links below to read letters written by the DOT below:

Blowgun Letter 1
Lights Letter 2
Rear Deck Light Letter 3
Trailer Parts Letter 4
Brake Light Letter 5
No Basis In Fact Or Law Letter 6
ABG Letter 7
Tail Lamps Letter 8
Tires Letter 9
Hitch Letter 10
Marker Lights Letter 11
Head Lamp Letter 12
Motorcycle Helmet Letter 13
Side markers Letter 14
No DOT Approved Parts Letter 15
No DOT Approval - Lights Letter 16

All the above letters were written by the Department of Transportation responding to
questions people had about vehicle equipment.  No "Department Of Transportation
Approved" helmets exist on this planet.  The Department of Transportation could not say it
more clearly than they have.

DOT/NHTSA even told the CHP in a letter     stop using the term DOT Approved.

If your officer, or the ticket he wrote you, says you did not wear an "approved" helmet, the
officer's right.  Because
there is no such thing.  
You should not be fined by the government for not complying with a law it is impossible to
comply with.  But wearing a DOT approved helmet is not required by law.  In California, you
are only required to wear a helmet that the manufacturer certifies would comply if tested.   
CHP policy on helmet enforcement.  Focus on  c, "Procedure" part (3).

This policy was changed to a more favorable
policy in January 2009 because
of our lawsuit.  
Contact the webmaster for a copy of the CHP Memorandum explaining these
significant changes to all CHP supervisors, so officers can better understand what they
are restricted from doing to a rider.
Letter from CHP explaining that it is legal to manufacture your own helmet.
Now read these 8 pages from a Superior Court Judge, Judge Barton.
The Judges in your county should be ready to rule the same way, and for the same reasons.
So, put it all together, and you have a law that allows you to manufacture your
own helmet for your own personal use in California, or buy a helmet.  If you
make yours, you certify that it meets the standards (if you believe it does).  This is
how every manufacturer's helmets get the DOT labels on the back,  which makes
the helmets legal in California in the eyes of the law (and therefore must be legal
in the eyes of the officer).  Make sure your helmet gets the letters, "DOT" on the
If an officer thinks your helmet is not in line with the standards (FMVSS 218) he
should not be determining that it is legal or illegal
before or during the traffic stop
(in other words, he can't determine that at all.  
Read this. Procedure part (3)).
If you are wearing a helmet (whatever the manufacturer says is a helmet), and you
get a ticket,
it must be written by the officer as a fix-it ticket (correctable).
Take the correctable citation and any helmet to a law enforcement officer and get
the ticket signed off.  
The case should be
dismissed and there is a $25.00 administrative (paperwork) fee
in California.  

So, the question you might ask yourself -
How will I make my helmet, and what will it look like when it's done?
Let us know what your headgear looks like after you manufacture and certify it.  
Email  a picture of your motorcycle safety helmet you made.  We'll post it here
for others to see.
So, after getting a ticket for violating the helmet law even though it was a self-manufactured helmet, the
arresting officer needs a complaint filed against him for violating the law, because he wrote the ticket
as 'not correctable.'  California law is clear - a helmet law violation
IS eligible to be correctable.  
If the officer does not write the ticket as correctable, he has violated your Constitutionally protected
Right to Due Process in the 14th Amendment.  

What is a helmet and what does the California helmet law require?
Have you noticed? There is NO mention anywhere of a CHINSTRAP being required.  
This imaginary requirement is a common mistake made by law enforcement officers.
The California Courts must rely heavily on the Buhl v Hannigan decision, and
Bianco v CHP decision.   The Buhl decision states that the officer can't tell
by looking at a helmet if it is fabricated properly (neither can the consumer), so
all that's required is to rely on the manufacturer's symbol of compliance (DOT
sticker) that is on the helmet.   Bianco went so far as to explain the officer would
have to prove you had
actual knowledge your helmet is not legal before he
should write a ticket for a helmet violation.  

BOLT of California     The
Legal Details
Correspondence from Erika Z. Jones Chief Counsel, NHTSA  

"Please note that Federal law does not prohibit the helmet's owner
or any other person that is not a manufacturer, distributor, dealer,
or repair business from removing the label from motorcycle helmets.
Thus, the owner of a motorcycle helmet is permitted to remove the
label from his or her helmet for any reason without violating any
provision of Federal law."

A good document to take with you to court if defending yourself against a helmet
ticket, if the officer says your helmet is illegal because it's missing the DOT
Here is the 6th Appellate Court ruling stating the CHP was wrong, and
we were right - helmet violations
are not automatically disqualified from
being fix-it tickets.
The most recent change in helmet enforcement has been a change to the 2009 Bail and
Penalty Schedule that directs the courts to treat helmet tickets as correctable, so long
as the officer treated it as correctable, regardless of what the rider had on his head.  

We at BOLT, interpret this to mean that as long as you have an object on your head
that the manufacturer certified as a helmet, and it has the letters "DOT" on it, that IS a
helmet, and the officer CAN'T claim it is not a helmet; but he might ignore the law and
issue a FIX-IT ticket.  

We remember when you couldn't ride 2 miles without getting a helmet ticket, if you
were wearing a "beanie."
Legal Details
Nuts & Bolts
Q & A
Hall of Fame
Click for larger view
Click for larger view