How To Legally Beat Helmet Laws…

checkeredhelmetThis very interesting article was forwarded to me by Rogue and written by Ray Henke, a California Motorcycle Accident Lawyer, founder of Motorcyclists Against Dumb Drivers. It demonstrates, with legal arguments, how you can fight the helmet law in California and other states. Because the convincing demonstration that Ray Henke is making is very long, I have edited it and kept the most important arguments. 

“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, 408 U.S. 104, 108 (1971).

The road to demonstrate that the California helmet law is unconstitutional has been a tortuous one, beginning with a challenge that the law was unconstitutional as written. In Buhl v. Hannigan, the California Court of Appeals agreed that it was “absurd” to posit that the ordinary biker or law enforcement officer could examine a helmet’s fabrication and apply FMVSS 218 to determine if it complied with the California helmet law.

The Buhl case was followed by Bianco v. California Highway Patrol in which the California Court of Appeals held that where a helmet bears a “DOT” label it creates a presumption that the helmet complies with FMVSS 218, and that the presumption can be rebutted only if (1) the helmet was recalled by the manufacturer for failure to comply with FMVSS 218 or determined by NHTSA to be noncompliant with FMVSS 218, AND (2) the biker as “actual knowledge” of a recall or determination of noncompliance.

At this point California law enforcement should have recognized that the constitutional restraints on application of the law had rendered it unenforceable. The California Highway Patrol’s response to the foregoing Court of Appeals decisions, however, was to ignore them and to continue to enforce the law arbitrarily based upon the law enforcement officer’s incompetent assessment of the fabrication qualities of the helmet.

Richard Quigley and Steve Bianco then initiated litigation which would later be funded by Easyrider magazine. The bikers established in the federal district court that the California Highway Patrol had a policy and practice of illegally enforcing the law, in violation of the Court of Appeals decision in Bianco v. CHP. The federal district court issued a scathing opinion condemning the CHP for its illegal helmet law enforcement polices and the United States Court of Appeals affirmed an injunction ordering the CHP to cease and desist issuing helmet tickets unless the officer has “probable cause” to believe that the rider has “actual knowledge” that his headgear has been recalled or determined by NHTSA to be noncompliant with FMVSS 218.

Again, the CHP should have just laid down their ticket books, but again, the CHP determined instead to continue on with its illegal enforcement policy. Riders with Bikers of Lesser Tolerance in California like Richard Quigley and Steve Bianco tested the resolve of the California Highway Patrol, accumulating hundreds of helmet tickets, some for wearing the B.O.L.T. “Ill Eagle” helmet, with the Chinese manufacturer’s “DOT” label embroidered on the back, others wore sunglasses with DOT labels, or itsy bitsy teenie weenie helmets, beanie helmets, helmets looking similar to what some refer to as “novelty helmets,” and many manufactured their own smaller-than- watermelon-sized hard-shell helmets, as specifically authorized in a legal opinion authored by CHP legal counsel, appending their own DOT labels.

Quigley challenged his last dozen helmet tickets, this time urging that the California helmet law was unconstitutionally vague “as applied” by the California Highway Patrol. He interrogated the highway patrol officers and introduced the internal CHP policy memoranda and bulletins making plain the CHP’s intent to skirt the Court of Appeals decisions that defined the California helmet law; documents he’d accumulated over a dozen years fighting the CHP in court.

Ten years to the day after the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had upheld the injunction against the CHP’s illegal helmet law enforcement policies, Judge Barton, for the California Superior Court for the County of Santa Cruz found that the California Highway Patrol had engaged in a policy and practice of illegal helmet law enforcement, now not only in violation of the California Court of Appeals decision in Bianco, but also in violation of the Easyriders federal court injunction. The Court issued a several page, highly reasoned constitutional opinion holding that the California helmet law was unconstitutionally vague as applied.

As the Court transcripts reflect, the Court’s purpose in setting forth its reasoning in the opinion was to permit the case to be taken up to the Court of Appeals, and the California helmet law might have been laid to rest in that case. However, the California Attorney General, less concerned with upholding the California and United States Constitution than with preserving the ability of the CHP to continue to enforce the helmet law illegally, declined to appeal the case.
In clear, it is well beyond the qualifications of the ordinary biker or law enforcement officers to determine if helmets manufactured out of hard materials comply with FMVSS 218 and the California helmet law. And it is the Plaintiff’s evidence that the California Highway Patrol has had the policy and practice to illegally ticket California bikers, including the Plaintiffs, arbitrarily and discriminatorily, for the entire spectrum of fabric and hard-shell helmets despite that every court has agreed that CHP officers plainly lack the ability to discern whether a helmet meets FMVSS 218 standards, the sole standard set forth in the California helmet law.

A new litigation was initiated by Richard Quigley and several other members of Bikers of Lesser Tolerance, California. The intent this time to put on at trial not only the same evidence of illegal highway patrol helmet law enforcement practices but the hundreds of illegal citations issued to the other B.O.L.T. Plaintiffs. And what this evidence will amply demonstrate, is that the California helmet law isn’t being enforced in conformity with the California and federal constitutional decisions, and that, as a practical matter, it cannot be enforced constitutionally. The case is framed as an injunction and declaratory relief case to assure that it will reach the Court of Appeals. If the B.O.L.T members succeed in the trial court, we anticipate that the Court will declare that the helmet law unconstitutionally vague as applied and issue an injunction against its further enforcement; so the Attorney General will be forced to appeal. If the Court fails to enter a decision that voids the California helmet law then the Plaintiffs can then appeal and we would expect that the Court of Appeals will have no choice but to recognize that the defect in the law is its unconstitutional vagueness and that the law as reinterpreted cannot be applied constitutionally.

The litigation represents the culmination of the courageous and determined work of the Plaintiffs and other B.O.L.T. members like Richard Quigley and Steve Bianco who have fought the good fight on the streets and in the courts for the past 17 years. The significance of the litigation extends beyond voiding the California helmet law because the due process deficiencies in the law will ertainly undercut the NTSB’s efforts to impose the same law on every other state. It will also provide the precedent for freedom fighters in every lid state to take into their state courts. Yes, this will be California appellate law. But in most states the constitutional arguments that will be upheld in this case will be “issues of first impression,” meaning issues not yet decided by the courts of the other states. When faced with an “issue of first impression” the Court’s always look to the decisions of the other states which have faced and decided the issue. And here on the issue of due process “vagueness,” this case will be the only relevant constitutional precedent in point.

We can shortcut by 17 years the constitutional court battles in every other lid state, and provide you the opportunity to void your helmet law decisively. Please accept this opportunity to join with ABATE of California and Delaware and Michigan and Northern Nevada as our partners in achieving freedom”. Ray Henke

61 Responses to “How To Legally Beat Helmet Laws…”

  1. 1 bigalyts Sep 8th, 2009 at 7:36 am

    Just for the Contraversy of maintaing our Rights or what is left of Our rights, I ask, How does this Law apply to the Seat Belt Issue ? Many Sates can now pull you over because Your Seat Belt Restraint System is not being used by the Driver or Passenger. This then gives the Officers Probable Cause to ………..Whatever they want to do !! At the very least Fine you $250 !

  2. 2 Eric C. Sep 8th, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    This fuss is so silly and juvenile. We all know what a safe helmet for our children to use while bicycling looks like. But when motorcyclists try to defend themselves by saying “I can’t tell what a legal motorcycle helmet looks like, and the police could not possible be experts either, so leave me alone”, it really shows their level of maturity. How embarrassing for you.

  3. 3 just my opinion Sep 8th, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Let me know if I have this right. What you are saying is that the rider is to stupid to know if the helmet they bought is DOT approved and that the cops are also to stupid to know if the helmet your wearing is DOT approved, so the law that says you should wear a DOT approved helmet is uninforceble? Do you think maybe that arguement is better suited for the pro helmet side of this arguement than for anti-helmet side? After all if these folks are to stupid to know if their helmet is DOT approved or not maybe they have already fell off and bumped their heads, and the state should look out for their well being.
    I don’t think the state should be able to tell people when they should or should not wear a helmet but this arguement seems stupid to me. If the state changes the law to be easier for the morons to understand, all that is accomplished is that more of the tax payers money was wasted fighting another stupid lawsuit. But no doubt the attorney is happy after all he made out big time with all that abate money.

  4. 4 Mike Greenwald Sep 8th, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Just my opinion,

    I love it when you open yourself to knowledge.

    DOT can not approve helmets. Therefore no helmets are approved by DOT.

    The constitutional defect in the California helmet law, and that which the NTSB has recommended to all states, is that these laws require motorcyclists to wear helmets compliant with the federal motorcycle helmet performance standard, FMVSS 218. The defect is that neither the bikers nor the law enforcement officers could possibly have any clue what FMVSS 218 requires.

    Section 218 states nothing about what a helmet should look like or what it should be made of. It merely describes some laboratory procedures and some arbitrary impact criteria. And to determine whether a particular helmet complies with FMVSS 218 requires the essential laboratory equipment and appropriately trained engineers to operate it; and in the process of testing the helmet you also destroy it.

    The constitutional defect is the law’s “vagueness” and the legal challenge derives from the due process clause of the United States Constitution. As explained by the United States Supreme Court:
    “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 forresolution on an ad hoc and subjective basis with the attendant dangers of arbitrary and discriminatory application.” Grayned v. City of Rockford, 408 U.S. 104, 108 (1971).

  5. 5 Mike Greenwald Sep 8th, 2009 at 6:18 pm


    Helmets are not seatbelts. They never have been seatbelts now will the ever be unless you have a rectal encephalctic impaction with your chinstrap attached to the bike.

  6. 6 Mike Greenwald Sep 8th, 2009 at 6:19 pm


  7. 7 Mike Greenwald Sep 8th, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    Eric C.,
    “We all know what a safe helmet for our children to use while bicycling looks like.”
    On this issue, sir, your are full of crap.

    You can’t tell the difference without destructive testing. There are no NDT standards to test the integrity of any helmet.

  8. 8 David Sep 8th, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    If you think you have problems now, just wait until the lawyers have pointed out all the “vagueness” and the state corrects it with new laws and everyone is wearing a helment produced by one or two manufactures. They will be full face helments certified and sold only through the CHP or your states Dept of Public Safety. You think you have problems now just wait!!

  9. 9 TPEvans Sep 8th, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Hey Eric C. – Samuel Adams is talking to you – “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, — go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!”

    Now go crawl back under the porch.

  10. 10 just my opinion Sep 9th, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Mike; Your points are well taken. But explain how it is that all this lawsuit nonsense will do any good if the state changes the law so that it is not vague? Everyone in California will still have to wear a helmet and the attornies will still have all the abate money, so what will have changed other than the tax payers had to pay for a silly lawsuit and people were duped into thinking if they give money to help fight this they won’t have to wear helmets. This lawsuit will solve nothing just as the lawsuits that claimed taxes are illegal did nothing. In my opinion it is a total waste of time and tax payers money.

  11. 11 Mike Greenwald Sep 9th, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Show me or show the state how to make it not vague.

    I am not prepared for the government to tell me how to dress because I ride a motorcycle.

    The Governments of various States are, in essence, requiring their LEOs and LEAs to make a determination of compliance without performing any tests needed for compliance. The governments that require this compliance may never incur liability and therefore as such, are unable and incapable of approving or certifying any helmet. That makes it ad hoc, and therefor it is vague.

    Part of the point is to make the mandatory helmet laws unprofitable to governments and other control freaks.

    Freedom or liberty to dress as you see fit is worth all the blood, sweat, and tears invested.

  12. 12 Jeff Nicklus Sep 9th, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Just My Opinion,

    Dude, you have no idea how this pains me to say this but: I have to agree with you on this one 100%. I am not feeling well ….. I need a Scotch now ….. I am going home!

    Over & Out,


  13. 13 notme Sep 9th, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    mike: “Show me or show the state how to make it not vague.”

    give all LEOs in the state(s) a list of manufacturers who pass FMVSS 218. sounds pretty easy to me. there are not that many legit helmet manufacturers.

    besides- i’d venture to bet that 99.76% of riders know whether their helmet is legal or not. luckily for the them the law allows them to plead ignorance- even putting a DOT label on it and saying they bought it that way.

    i’ve been there- all the beanie flying brothers know this too. they know their lids do not meet any standard.

    just like most of you and most cops: we know BS when we see it and know with or without FMVSS 218 documentation whether a lid is legit or not.

    we also know in cali that the helmet needs to be confiscated and destroyed to be tested. that doesn’t happen.

    pleased don’t go off on the helmet vs no helmet tangent- this has nothing to do with that.

  14. 14 Mike Greenwald Sep 9th, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    I have asked for a list for over 20 years. No List.

    I am not arguing helmet or no helmet.

    “just like most of you and most cops: we know BS when we see it and know with or without FMVSS 218 documentation whether a lid is legit or not.” BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT

    “i’d venture to bet that 99.76% of riders know whether their helmet is legal or not. luckily for the them the law allows them to plead ignorance- even putting a DOT label on it and saying they bought it that way.” I have half a dozen helmets that are new in the box that have all the documentation and are also failed models and sizes.

    What we are talking about here is a group of bullshit laws that allow LEOs to stop you for no reason other than to shake you down.

    Get a grip on reality.

  15. 15 notme Sep 9th, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    mike- i wasn’t attacking you.

    MG: “I have half a dozen helmets that are new in the box that have all the documentation and are also failed models and sizes.”

    can you explain that statement? so they appear compliant but aren’t?

    MG: “What we are talking about here is a group of bullshit laws that allow LEOs to stop you for no reason other than to shake you down.”

    I’m not particularly on the man’s side but your statement seems a bit paranoid. cops don’t arbitrarily pull guys over for helmet infractions- there has to be a reason the cop deems your lid unacceptable. if you wear a beanie your chances are going to go up. not too many guys with full face helmets get harassed by the man.

    the poster child in this mixed up case is Richard Quigley who doesn’t wear a helmet at all- he prefers a baseball hat with a dot label on it.

    come on mike- how about some middle ground? some people just want to find every loop hole imaginable to cry about loss of freedom, then when they get busted they cry, get lawyers involved, and tie up the courts. really- who’s winning here mike? riders? the cops? the courts?

    like loud pipes- for so many years we cried at the subjectivity of the loud pipe ticket. so, now LEOs have decibel meters. we all knew our pipes were illegal. just like everyone knows if their helmet is real or not. i really don’t need dot, or a cop to show me what a legal helmet is. there are hundreds of them for sale from about 50 bucks and up. pretty easy to find.

    how about being a man and either move to a helmet optional state, get legal, or pay your fine and shut up.

    MG:”Get a grip on reality.”

    ok- i’m going to don my arai and go for a ride, free to ride and not be bothered by the man.

  16. 16 Mike Greenwald Sep 9th, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    Helmets that are not tested by the DOT are assumed passed until the particular model and headform size is tested (destroyed). Once tested and failed, consumers are not notified nor are the helmets recalled, even when the manufacturer has been instructed to do so by DOT.

    You are either a fool or leading a sheltered life. Here is why. In fact, cops do pull over motorcyclists under the guise of safety checks with SWAT teams as backup.

    What part of your rights do you want to expand into mine? What is middle ground about things that are unconstitutional?

    I really don’t give a damn about your loud pipes argument because you are trying to reinforce your illogic by kitchen sinking it.

    I notice that you have no dog in this hunt. I am glad that you will wear a helmet where ever and when ever you ride.

    Would you wear a helmet if you were told that you could not wear the helmet by the government?

    How about being a real man and not paying the fine because you stood up to the government for a law that is unconstitutional?

  17. 17 Helmet Maker Sep 9th, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Which person posting knows next to nothing, but tries to sound like he’s got it down?

    Your Rights sound like they are more valuable to me than they even are to you.
    My Rights are definitely high on my priority list.

    You have to wonder why the cops are restricted more and more whenever a helmet trial goes to a statewide court. When the law doesn’t change, but case law does. Because we are right.

    You have to ask yourself why the court ruled that no one (NO ONE – this means you) no one can tell if a helmet complies with (will pass ) the standard by looking at it. If the manufacturer put a DOT symbol on it – it is legal.
    Why would a cop give you a ticket because you are obeying the law?
    ‘Cause you with no stones will “don your Arai so as not to be bothered by the man” without knowing
    1. if your helmet would really comply if tested.
    2. any actual legal facts while you stand your “legal ground”
    3. what to do if you got screwed
    4. where you are knuckling under, while thinking you are “free.”

    Enough like Notme dont have what it takes to stand up. They mail in the fine money as if that solves the problem. That’s why cops write tickets for stuff that’s not illegal.
    Well, keep your eyes closed. Somebody else will pull your weight for you.

    BTW, I fought a few, now I dont have to fight, because they backed off of me.
    You will die a thousand deaths.

  18. 18 Mac Henderson Sep 9th, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Mike is right

    I don’t care if you want to wear a helmet…I own several. But I want to choose. The guy who created the law; CA Assemblyman Dick Floyd admitted to a journalist from the San Jose Mercury newspaper that he lied about all of the facts. He simply wanted to harass bikers.

    I guess the question is how many of your constitutional rights do you want to give up?

    Do a bit of homework for yourself…get out of the Matrix. DOT does not approve or certify anything (write em a letter). Manufactures by placing the emblem DOT on the helmet are just stating they think their helmet will pass the safety test. But even if all helmets complied with the testing of FMVSS218, do you really think the helmet would absorb enough of the impact to keep your brain from slamming against the inside of your skull? I know the answer simply because I have buried many who died of brain swelling from impact while wearing a “DOT” helmet. Sue the manufacture? The little sticker on the inside says something along the lines of not for impacts over 13 mph. Again I don’t care if people want to wear em. Just get the facts/data straight.

  19. 19 just my opinion Sep 9th, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    Jeff Nicklus
    Sep 9th, 2009 at 2:31 pm
    Just My Opinion,

    Dude, you have no idea how this pains me to say this but: I have to agree with you on this one 100%. I am not feeling well ….. I need a Scotch now ….. I am going home!

    Over & Out,


    Jeff; Be careful it sounds like I may be a bad influance on you. I am printing this as I type so that next time you call me a liberal idiot I can use this against you. LOL One more thing don’t drink all that scotch, next time you say something I agree with I will need a drink.

  20. 20 Mike Greenwald Sep 9th, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    just my opinion,

    The law for mandatory helmets is not legal as it stands. This has been proven in Appellate Courts and is cited as precedent in various states courts. The lawsuits are not silly as you infer, rather, the laws are silly.

    You claim that the helmet laws could be made less vague. Yes they could if the government were allowed to break another law and assume liability.

    I am impressed that you take your “liberal” stance seriously. I have read history and understand that it was the liberals that stood against the British and thought very seriously about killing and a complete break from the Kingdom of England. These liberals were willing to die for what they believed in,

    On second thought, maybe this is not the liberal that you purport to be.

  21. 21 just my opinion Sep 9th, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    Mike Greenwald
    Sep 9th, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    You are either a fool or leading a sheltered life. Here is why. In fact, cops do pull over motorcyclists under the guise of safety checks with SWAT teams as backup.

    Mike; Guys like you crack me up. Do you really expect us to believe that you are just minding your own business riding along doing the speed limit ,not doing anything wrong and the cops stop you with full swat escort? I have been riding Harleys since 1978 and in all that time there was a short period maybe 2 years that I did get stopped on a regular basis, But it was because I was a young dumb kid causing problems in the neighborhood. Racing up and down the streets pulling wheelies basically being a dumb ass,28 tickets in that two years, I also had a slick attorney and beat most of those tickets, but As soon as I pulled my head out of my ass and started obeying the laws and not breaking them. The police stops also stopped. Although I must say swat never showed up at any of my stops.Cops have enough to do without stoping law biding citizens. If you are getting stop on a regular basis by the swat team look in the mirror, you will see who can make that all stop. Your arguement about this helmet law is as lame as your statement that every day motorcyclist doing nothing wrong get harrassed by swat. I don’t buy any of your story but that is just my opinion and it is worth just what I charge you for it.
    Have a good day and good luck with that silly law suit.

  22. 22 Helmet Maker Sep 10th, 2009 at 12:44 am

    just my opinion,
    You don’t get around much, huh?
    You’ve never seen somebody get pulled over and swarmed by cops for no reason?
    If you don’t see it, you’re sure it doesn’t happen, too.

    If your daddy could afford a slick attorney for you, Mike was right, and you did lead a sheltered life.
    You are just about sounding like a cop yourself, believing that if the cop got you for something you were certainly in the wrong.

    I should tell you about the time my clean-cut restaurant manager friend was arguing something with me – and a cop in the restaurant “overheard” him, but didn’t hear what was actually said. My buddy (defending the cops) got arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
    Doing nothing – no, defending all cops, in an argument with me, goes to jail for a misunderstanding after 5 cops work him over and rip his coat and break his glasses.
    Big tough school yard bullies.

    I got one story for every time your slick attorney got you off for being a dumb ass and actually violating the law.

  23. 23 Mike Greenwald Sep 10th, 2009 at 12:55 am

    swat stops of motorcyclists happen in New york, Connecticut, Idaho, Louisiana, North Carolina, Wisconsin to name a few.
    Not exclusively Harley posing bad asses are getting stopped, either. Honda Goldwing riders are by observation a fairly quiet and law abiding subset.
    I respect your bliss. Please recognize what is going on in the motorcycling world and to your cavalier attitude towards relinquishing your rights and those of others.
    Just my opinion, Use your real name.

  24. 24 nicker Sep 10th, 2009 at 1:54 am


    “…If you are getting stop on a regular basis by the swat team look in the mirror, you will see who can make that all stop…”

    You aren’t seriously implying that how one “looks” should be a criterion for being stopped…..are you?


  25. 25 Gary Hilderbrand Sep 10th, 2009 at 7:08 am

    My name is Hildy and I am the Director of B.O.L.T. of Delaware and the Legislative Coordinator for ABATE of Delaware. Because of my activities in these two groups, neither are patch clubs rather they are motorcycle rights organizations, I can tell you that the police are routinely stopping all motorcyclists in Delaware and harassing them. The bikers are being checked for loud pipes, helmets, and any other motor vehicle infractions that can be found. These are motorcycle only road blocks. This is not the only state that this is occurring in.

    Regarding Ray Heinke’s and Mike Greenwald’s comments you can take them to the bank. Are there bikers out there in the real world looking for tickets too try and knock the helmet laws down because they are unconstitutional? You bet!

    Are there cops out there who are unskilled in the enforcement of helmet laws but enforce them any way. You bet!

    With biker rights activists perhaps we will force the government to reverse these unconstitutional helmet laws. If a few more of you who just go along to get a long join us we might get there sooner.

    On the issue of seat belts. Once they made the laws mandatory in every state, using our federal highway tax dollars as blackmail money to force this issue on to the states, show me where your insurance went down because of the savings they gained because of less loss of property damage, injuries, and deaths.

    The same with forcing helmets on children. If you as an adult can’t make the decision as to what is best for you and your kids then I feel sorry for you. Perhaps you need a government to intervene in your every day life.

    But, like everyone else on here, this is just my opinion.


  26. 26 Kit Maira Sep 10th, 2009 at 9:59 am

    When the helmet law first passed in California cops pulled motorcyclists over all the time for what they deemed illegal helmets. It is only because of the many court challenges by individuals such as Richard Quigley and many others that the CHP and most other agencies have backed off after time. A succession of capitulations in the form of CHP enforcement memos are well documented. Those that wear beanies today should thank those freedom fighters who were willing to stand up and defend their rights while they stood on the side and did nothing.

  27. 27 just my opinion Sep 10th, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Helmet Maker
    Sep 10th, 2009 at 12:44 am
    just my opinion,
    You don’t get around much, huh?
    You’ve never seen somebody get pulled over and swarmed by cops for no reason?
    If you don’t see it, you’re sure it doesn’t happen, too.

    If your daddy could afford a slick attorney for you, Mike was right, and you did lead a sheltered life.
    You are just about sounding like a cop yourself, believing that if the cop got you for something you were certainly in the wrong.

    I have seen people getting pulled over and harrassed, but did they do something to deserve that treatment, I don’t know but neither do you. And if you read what I wrote you would understand that I said, It was not realistic to say swat harrasses riders not just some average cop. SWAT= special weapons and tactical unit. I don’t believe for a minute that swat has nothing better to do than pull over old folks riding a Gold Wing and pull guns on them and harrass them.
    As for your comment on how daddy paid for my slick attorney. wrong again I paid for that just as I have paid for every thing I have ever had. And I have not been sheltered either. Just so you and Mikey know I have been supporting myself since I was 16 mostly do to having a bad additude as a teenager. As for being sheltered I have been friends with people that are true 1%ers as well as hippies and yuppy riders. I have seen the best and worst side of all types of riders so I don’t think I have been sheltered. I don’t know how or what you are but it is funny how when you can’t support your veiws as being legit you resort to name calling and trying to discredit me. If I had to guess I would say you are some how connected to this lame lawsuit and don’t like my veiw because it makes sense and makes your agruement what it is LAME.

    Nicker; my comment on looking in the mirror was not to say if you look like a criminal you should be stopped or deserve to be stopped. First off what does a criminal look like? What I meant was if you are being harrassed maybe it is because you are a known problem in that area and maybe you should adjust your habits so that the harrassment would stop. Now as for the looks comment, I will say that if it looks like a duck it probable is a duck. You can call that profiling but it is common sense that if you look like a 1%er you will be harasses more than if you look like a CEO. It may not be right but it is what it is. Those that want to look like they are the bad ass bikers will get more attention from law inforcement than those that don’t. But that is a totally different issue than the bogus lawsuit we are discusing today though. But again it just my opinion I have a right to it just as you have a right to yours, I respect your right and everyone elses right to have an opinion and hope you respect my right as well.
    Now lets move on to the next topic this one is old.

  28. 28 Mike Greenwald Sep 10th, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Just my opinion, or whatever your name is,

    When you say, “Racing up and down the streets pulling wheelies basically being a dumb ass,28 tickets in that two years, I also had a slick attorney and beat most of those tickets, but As soon as I pulled my head out of my ass and started obeying the laws and not breaking them,” it compels me to ask you if you really know when a bill that is signed into law really becomes a law.

    The answer is possibly going to surprise you. A bill that is signed into law is not ruly a law until it has been challenged in an Appellate Court and then a Supreme Court. Then and only then does the law really have any weight.

    It would seem that you may be missing the point of this discussion. The point is not about your attorney being slick or more intelligent than you about the law. The point is that your attorney knew the law that you did not know. Your attorney(s) understanding and knowledge of the Constitution and of the law and the precedents set in courts of law offered a defensible position to what actions you thought that you were guilty of committing.

    This is not the case when it comes to mandatory helmet law.

    With mandatory helmet law, there are no violations that are provable. Manufacturer guidelines by NHTSA and DOT are not applicable, as written, to the consumer.

    When the initial mandatory helmet laws were created and executed by many states, the mandatory helmet laws were brought on by blackmail of the states for highway funds by the federal government.

    Once these blackmail laws were defeated, the federal government got pissed off and started a campaign to indoctrinate children and adults to believe that the government knew better than the individual about how the government could restrict or diminish your life because you chose a motorcycle as your form of transportation.

  29. 29 GirlGeek Sep 10th, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    At the risk of offending just about everyone, what seems lost in the discussion is the basic reason for fighting helmet laws in the first place, and that would be the right of an individual to pursue their own lifestyle with a cogent assessment of their own risk, and an obligation to “do no harm” to others.

    The rationale behind the various legal actions may seem obscure to some, as “Notme” says:

    “….come on mike- how about some middle ground? some people just want to find every loop hole imaginable to cry about loss of freedom..”

    “Every loophole imaginable to cry about loss of freedom?”

    “Notme”, think about what you are saying here. There are no “loopholes” when it comes to freedom. Freedom is what it is, nothing more, nothing less. When the time comes that we need to find “loopholes” to define it is when we have lost our balance.

    We don’t have to plead for freedom: we either have it or we don’t. If we don’t, then the response should be By Any Means Necessary. These legal actions are one of those means.

    I have learned much from the actions in California and other states. Living in a free State, one tends to succumb to an intellectual laziness inherent in the overlords deigning to allow us our freedom for one more legislative session.

    That time will end. And when it does, thanks to those who are fighting the good fight, we will be ready.

  30. 30 Ric Mellon Sep 10th, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Do you know how to catch wild pigs?

    You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come every day to eat the free corn. When they are used to coming every day, you put a fence down one side of the place where they are used to coming. When they get used to the fence, they begin to eat the corn again and you put up another side of the fence. They get used to that and start to eat again.

    You continue until you have all four sides of the fence up with a gate in the last side. The pigs, who are used to the free corn, start to come through the gate to eat; you slam the gate on them and catch the whole herd. Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom. They run around and around inside the fence, but they are caught.

    Soon they go back to eating the free corn. They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, so they accept their captivity.

    This is exactly what is happening to America. Governments keep spreading the free corn out in the form of programs and laws. While we continually lose our freedoms — just a little at a time.


    Draw your own conclusions as to which side of the fence you choose to live on. If motorcycles become illegal, then I will ride illegally while I fight to overturn the law that took my rights away.

  31. 31 Bones Sep 10th, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    The members of ABATE of Southern Nevada and Northern ABATE have been persuing this battle for a while and would be greatful for all constructive arguements against any legislation directed toward motorcycle riders in Nevada. It’s not about the helmet, it’s about your right to have the freedom to make a choice. No one wants to stop anyone from wearing a helmet, we just want the government to stay out of our personal lives and removing our rights one at a time. California is the perfact example of what happens when you allow the legislatures to run amok.

  32. 32 nicker Sep 10th, 2009 at 2:42 pm


    “…which side of the fence you choose…”

    Problem is, the pigs inside the fence aren’t happy unless the rest of us get in there with them.

    Apparently you’ve forgotten that:
    – “we’re all in this together”
    – “It’s for the children”
    – “internal combustion causes “Global Climate Change” (Warming is no longer certain).
    – “you don’t have to give up your current insurance” (until yours goes out of business).
    – yada, yada, yada………
    And choosing to be “outside” isn’t an option.

    See, it all depends on……….. what your definition of “is” is……….. 🙂


  33. 33 nicker Sep 10th, 2009 at 3:03 pm


    Spot On…..!!!


  34. 34 nicker Sep 10th, 2009 at 3:03 pm


    “…seems a bit paranoid. cops don’t arbitrarily pull guys over for helmet infractions- there has to be a reason …”

    When and where did you start riding, and what do you ride….???

    BTW, being “paranoid” and being a “target” are not mutually exclusive.


  35. 35 Ray Henke Sep 10th, 2009 at 4:29 pm


    Rouge, a gentleman, and real SOB biker, who is also a very highly respected biker rights advocate and journalist, sent along the citation to this blog where my article for MRF was adapted for for inclusion here, and I’ve reviewed some of the responses, which I think basically fall into a couple of categories, one being the argument, sometimes rather caustic, that riders all know what helmets are “DOT approved,” and then others in which we have riders who appear to think that our freedoms are not that important.

    As Mr. Greenburg points out, there is no such duck as a “DOT approved helmet,” exposing the initial ignorance of those who think there is. More fundamentally, since the laws are not phrased in terms of “DOT approved,” those who think they know what complies with the law, are obviously posing, because, what the law requires is that riders wear helmets compliant with FMVSS 218. I suspect that those saying that they know how to comply with the law have never read FMVSS 218, so what I’ll share with you is that FMVSS 218 simply provides a list of laboratory procedures and impact criteria. The only fabrication element of FMVSS 218 that these writers could “test” by looking at their helmets is the “projection” standard, limiting rigid projections to 1/5 of an inch above the surface of the helmet. There is no way that these writers who claim that they know whether their helmets comply with the law actually know it, because to test it would require that they have the laboratory equipment, and then run the impact tests, after which what they would have is a destroyed helmet. Furthermore, when this was pointed our to the California Court of Appeals in the Buhl case, what the Court stated was that it was “absurd” to posit that the reasonably intelligent biker or cop could determine by looking at the fabrication of a helmet whether it complies with FMVSS 218. Furthermore, for those who think they can tell what a non-existant “DOT approved” helmet looks like, I would suggest that you take a measuring stick to your local bike shop and measure the rigid projections on the watermellon helmets that you think are DOT approved. What you will find is that most of them violate FMVSS 218 on the only fabrication criterion contained in FMVSS 218. So, for those who think that they know what a nonexistant “DOT approved” helmet looks like, or a helmet that complies with FMVSS 218, all I can say is what the California Court of Appeals said, which is, “that is absurd.”

    With regard to those who think that freedom is unimportant, I don’t know what to say to you. You either care about freedom or you don’t. If you like wearing your helmet, maybe this is not a freedom you care about. But I wonder whether if others of your freedoms were imposed upon you’d be out here like Mike Greenwald above posting on this Forum saying “Hey, the government has gone too far this time in taking away our rights to decide for ourselves how we want to dress when we ride.” At the NTSB hearing a couple of years ago an entire hour was devoted to motorcycle clothing and how the NTSB could fashion regulations to require that we wear protective motorcycle apparel when we ride. Thankfully, there was an ABATE representative at the hearing who pointed out that some of us ride not only for weekend fun, but actually ride to work or out for whatever. The motorcycle clothing manufacturer then sought to rebut the argument by saying “Oh, we have protective clothing for every occasion.” I sat there and watched with horror, thinking this isn’t going to stop with the government telling us what hat to wear, they are going to dress us up from our hats to our shoes. Just in general, if you are old enough, you see how our freedoms are being erroded year after year, not just for bikers but accross the board, and it worries me when folks say we should just conform to every governmental imposition upon our freedoms, even our freedoms to dress as we choose. And would I suggest those of you who are so willing to conform to helmet laws and don’t give a fuck about those who want to make their decisions for themselves, that you might consider that one day the government will enact legislation that you find unduly intrusive and offensive. If you succeed in beating down those like Mike Greenwald, who obviously cares deeply about this freedom, and if you are successful in creating hostility to those who are willing to stand up for what they consider their important freedoms, then when the government comes to take away a freedom that you care about, you may find that there is no freedom fighter left to stand with you.

    Finally, I would suggest that you should care resisting any law that impairs your Constitutional due process rights. If we take out of this equation the argument back and forth about whether helmet laws are worthy, we are still left with a law that is plainly vague, that in fact, cannot be understood by bikers and even less so by cops. The following language, removed from its quote in the above article adaptation, is from the United States Supreme Court in a “due process” case that didn’t have any thing to do with helmets, rather describing what our US Constitution requires:

    ” 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, 408 U.S. 104, 108 (1971).

    Even if you like wearing a helmet and don’t give a shit about those who care about their right to chose, my question is, Do you give a shit about the US Constitution? If you do, then you should want to oppose any law that errodes our Constitutional rights. Steve Bianco and Richard Quigley, (who by the ways has passed away, so please have some respect for someone who cannot come onto this Forum to defend himself), both cared deeply about the Constitution. There are always those who would like to compromise our constitutional rights. Our wonderful Bill of Rights is constantly challeged, with guys who you may not like, like Larry Flint at the forefront of protecting our 1st Amendment rights, with the NRA, who you may not like, always at the forefront of protecting our 2nd Amendment right to bare arms. But if you reread the quote from the United States Supreme Court above describing our 5th and 14th Amendment due process rights, I think you should recognize that the due process clause cuts across all laws to protect us from arbitrary law enforcement practices. So even if you don’t mind dressing up like the government wants you to dress up and don’t care about your brothers’ rights to make their own decisions how they dress when they ride, at least find it in yourself, as an American, to give a fuck about our Constitution.

    God bless, Peace and Love,
    Ray Henke

  36. 36 Thorsblood Sep 10th, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    The MSP, (Michigan State Police) is mandated by the Michigan legislature to approve helmets and promulgate rules for the implementation of the states helmet law. In an attempt to fulfill this mandate the MSP has adopted the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218 guidelines by reference.
    In the Administrative rules, the MSP rules state; Motorcycle helmets shall meet the model specifications established by the United States Department of Transportation, National Highway Safety Administration. These specifications, located at and identified as “Motorcycle Helmets”, 49 C.F.R. § 571.218, published April 15, 1988 in the Federal Register (53 FR 12529), effective October 3, 1988, are adopted in these rules by reference.
    A careful examination of the entirety of FMVSS-218 reveals that it is a testing protocol created for manufacturers of motorcycle helmets to have their helmets tested for compliance, thus allowing them to self certify their helmets as compliant with FMVSS-218. Nothing in FMVSS-218 specifies any model designation, specification, or construction criteria. While a careful reading of the standard may allow a layman to have a vague notion of what the standard is seeking to accomplish, it seems clear that only an engineer trained in the laboratory nomenclature and scientific criteria involved would have a complete understanding of this standard as it is written, and as it applies in determining the legality of a particular motorcycle helmet in the State of Michigan.
    The vague nature of trying to determine whether a helmet is legal by virtue of compliance with this standard in Michigan does not end there.
    Over the past 10 or so years the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA), has annually selected about 40 – 50 helmet models at random off store shelves and had them independently tested for compliance.

    On average about 50% of all helmets tested FAIL. If 50% tested fail then it stands to reason that 50% not tested would fail also. That’s thousands of non-compliant helmets on store shelves, and motorcyclists heads, with no way of distinguishing them from compliant ones. Further, of those failing NHTSA testing only a notice for recall and an order for fixing the defects is sent to the manufacturer. I have been able to find most of the 2007 list of “fail” helmets still for sale on the internet with no notice of recall mentioned. I even purchased one in September of 08 that failed the “impact attenuation” portion of the testing. It is illogical to assume that anyone would be able to identify a helmet that absolutely meets compliance with FMVSS-218. It is illogical to assume that anyone would therefore be able to absolutely meet the requirements of the Michigan Helmet law.
    I have taken the time to attend many Helmet Law violation court cases across Michigan. The only consistency in the interpretation of the Michigan Helmet Law by judges and prosecutors has been the inconsistency of their interpretations. This law as written is Vague. Worse, it is enforced in an ad hoc and arbitrary manner forcing law enforcement to guess according to their personal perceptions what is and what is not a legal helmet in Michigan. Some courts have presumed that the labeling requirements of the standard directed to the manufacturer apply to the consumer. This has been refuted numerous times by NHTSA. These labeling requirements do not apply to consumers. Some courts presume that there are specific physical construction requirements of helmets that are required. Nothing in the FMVSS-218 can be found addressing this, and this also has been refuted by DOT. I have had personal contact with DOT engineer Claudia Covell who is in charge of FMVSS-218 verifying this.

    Dear Ofcr. Bongard: Thank you for your inquiry. It was forwarded to me because I am the Safety Compliance Engineer responsible for FMVSS No. 218, Motorcycle helmets. The answers to your questions are listed below. If you still have questions after reviewing my responses, please feel free to contact me directly at or (202) 366-5293 and I will be happy to assist you further.
    Question 1. Does any of the criteria in FMVSS-218 regarding helmets apply to the consumer or purchaser of the helmet, ie; DOT sticker, interior labeling, etc?
    Please refer to the interpretation drafted by our Chief Counsel or go HERE for a complete response to your question. In summary, FMVSS 218 does not govern actions by consumers or purchasers of helmets.

    2. Does the DOT have any specifications for motorcycle helmets that explicitly describe the construction and retention straps of an approved helmet?
    We have guidelines for recognizing novelty helmets but nothing that definitively addresses the physical construction material requirements of approved helmets. The standard does not specify the type of material or design that manufacturers must use to comply with FMVSS 218. In general, FMVSS 218 is a performance based standard, so as long as the manufacturer ensures that the helmet is designed and manufactured to meet or exceed the requirements of FMVSS 218, they may use any materials they wish.

    3. Does the DOT have access to a list of approved helmets other than those annually tested and passing?
    No; we do not maintain a list of helmets that are certified to FMVSS-218. Also, please be aware that publication of our test results on our website does not constitute a list of “approved helmets”.

    4. Are there ANY roadside tests that an Officer can conduct on a helmet to verify its compliance with FMVSS-218?
    There are no performance tests that can be done “roadside”.

    Regards, Claudia Covell Safety Compliance Engineer National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Department of Transportation Phone: (202) 366-5293 Fax: (202) 366-7002 E-mail:

    There have been assumptions made by police officers, prosecutors, and judges that the requirements of the federal standard can be applied to the citizens of Michigan by virtue of the State Police specifying that they apply. The MSP has never made this specification and the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution disallows it anyway.

    The Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution:
    In the legal system of the United States, preemption generally refers to the displacing effect that federal law will have on a conflicting or inconsistent state law. The Supremacy Clause (Article VI, section 2) of the United States Constitution states that The Laws of the United States, (which shall be made in Pursuance to the Constitution), shall be the supreme Law of the land. Thus, when there is a conflict between a state law and federal law, the federal law (subject to the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Fifth Amendment and other Constitutional Law) trumps – or “preempts” – the state law, according to this theory. The term is also sometimes used to refer to the displacing effect state laws might have on ordinances enacted by municipalities. The preemption doctrine derives from the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution which states that the “Constitution and the laws of the United States…shall be the supreme law of the land…anything in the constitutions or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.” This means of course, that any federal law–even a regulation of a federal agency–trumps any conflicting state law.

    Preemption disallows the state to alter the intent or meaning of the adopted federal law or standard.

    No average citizen of Michigan can with certainty go out and purchase a helmet that will comply with these standards. They can purchase one that has the APPEARANCE of compliance, and law enforcement can issue tickets based on the APPEARANCE of Non-compliance, but certainly the intent of the law in the first place was not to force citizens to maintain an “appearance” of lawfulness nor for law enforcement to ticket citizens for the unjustifiable “appearance” of unlawfulness.
    Truly, only those motorcyclists who take the time to study and research the complexities of, and testing of various motorcycle helmets, can make an educated, personal decision on the merits of a particular helmet and avail themselves of any safety benefits attributable to motorcycle helmets.
    Hmmmm, adults making an intelligent choice, as opposed to the unconstitutional mandate of a vague law which accomplishes little more than the draconian enforcement of the appearance of compliance to a testing protocol for manufacturers. (How American would that be?)

    Due Process Clause:
    A doctrine derived from the DUE PROCESS CLAUSES of the FIFTH and FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS to the U.S. Constitution that requires criminal laws to be drafted in language that is clear enough for the average person to comprehend.
    If a person of ordinary intelligence cannot determine what persons are regulated, what conduct is prohibited, or what punishment may be imposed under a particular law, then the law will be deemed unconstitutionally vague. The U.S. Supreme Court has said that no one may be required at peril of life, liberty, or property to speculate as to the meaning of a penal law. Everyone is entitled to know what the government commands or forbids. The void for vagueness doctrine advances four underlying policies. First, the doctrine encourages the government to clearly distinguish conduct that is lawful from that which is unlawful. Under the Due Process Clauses, individuals must be given adequate notice of their legal obligations so they can govern their behavior accordingly. When individuals are left uncertain by the wording of an imprecise statute, the law becomes a standardless trap for the unwary.
    Second, the void for vagueness doctrine curbs the arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement of criminal statutes. Penal laws must be understood not only by those persons who are required to obey them but by those persons who are charged with the duty of enforcing them. Statutes that do not carefully outline detailed procedures by which police officers may perform an investigation, conduct a search, or make an arrest confer wide discretion upon each officer to act as he or she sees fit. Precisely worded statutes are intended to confine an officer’s activities to the letter of the law. Site/pages/page3.htm

    Rusty “Thorsblood” Bongard
    B.O.L.T. (Bikers of Lesser Tolerance) of Michigan
    Region 21 Coordinator, Abate of Michigan
    Asst. State Rep. MRF
    Member C.O.C.
    Member Sawtooth Wolves MC

  37. 37 Bones Sep 10th, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    I find your words inspiring and helpful in our fight for freedom in Nevada. I hope you will allow me to use them.

  38. 38 notme Sep 10th, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    there’s a lot of passion involved here.

    a problem many ‘freedom’ fighters seem to have is muddying the waters, going off on tangents, and attacking anyone that doesn’t agree completely.

    this case, to me, is about semantics. the court did not say in any way, shape, or form that the spirit of the law was in question. did they?

    the courts ruled that the wording, and therefore the enforcement was deemed unconstitutional. No? seems like a big difference in how you want to argue this- the law was not deemed unconstitutional. No? Can you admit that or will you attempt to attack and besmirch me?

    yet, the freedom fighters turn this into taking away rights and resort to name calling. you can confuse the issue as much as you want, and insult me for my views.

    if you want to fight for rights, why the smokescreen about your true intentions? you want to choose- plain and simple. how is challenging the wording that will lead to getting the law written in a more clear manner that you cannot skirt going to help? i’m not seeing how your approach, in this case presented here, is going to win rights.

    so which is it:
    1) to stop harassment from swat and the other LEOS?
    2) to defend the constitution and our rights to due process?
    3) to get the government to make it more clear what is legal or not?
    4) to get rid of the helmet law

    each of you has made those arguments, just confusing what your goal really is.

    i believe it’s #4- your transparency is obvious. so why not just say it? i think your approach will backfire if you continue to make this about the wording of the law and how to “legally beat helmet laws”.

  39. 39 Thorsblood Sep 10th, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    1) to stop harassment from swat and the other LEOS?
    2) to defend the constitution and our rights to due process?
    3) to get the government to make it more clear what is legal or not?
    4) to get rid of the helmet law


    NO LESS, NO MORE. Well maybe more, lol

  40. 40 Mike Greenwald Sep 10th, 2009 at 9:22 pm


    Your question is valid when you ask;
    so which is it:
    1) to stop harassment from swat and the other LEOS?
    2) to defend the constitution and our rights to due process?
    3) to get the government to make it more clear what is legal or not?
    4) to get rid of the helmet law

    Your separation of issues is certainly meant to confuse people or yourself that these are separate issues. I assure you that the issues are all connected and dependent on one another.

    I am heartened at your quest for knowledge.

    The flagrant intent of the helmet law and other laws that are motorcyclist specific have been fabricated with the specific intent of taxing and/or limiting motorcycling to an extent that it is profitable for the government and cost prohibitive to the consumer.

    I am not about to start taking crap from you or anybody about whether or not I can ride a motorcycle on any public roadway at any time of the day or night in any weather or season.

    There are some of you that ride that do not have the stones nor experience to standup for what you believe in and I know that compliance for you is the easy way out. Stay out of my way. If you have issue with what I say and how I say it, remember this, don’t start a fight with an old guy ’cause he has neither the time nor the energy to waste on you and he will just kill you.

    I enjoy riding now and have enjoyed doing it since the 50s.

    Quite easily, the government should leave the motorcyclists alone. If you have a problem with that, then I have a problem with you.

  41. 41 Nuke 'n Pave Dave Sep 10th, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    Well hell… A few thoughts come to mind here:
    1) The cops think we’ve beat them at their own game every time we get one of their laws reversed. When that happens, they strike back out of what can only be described as schoolyard spite in order to make all those even remotely involved suffer. This is childish of course, but it doesn’t make it any less true.
    2) About the time all of this has come to resolution reversing the helmet law y’all will probably wake up only to find a brand spanking new helmet law rewritten and in place . . . and will most probably have to start the whole process over once again.
    3) If all of the states ever manage to do away with helmet laws, the insurance companies will lobby the feds to pass a national law in place of all those lost state laws. That the feds don’t actually have standing to create such a law is irrelevant; just look at what they’ve done with guns and most anything else that we untrustworthy citizens find to be fun…
    4) Most every time I’ve gone off my bike I’ve landed on my ass, and I will brook no-one telling the feds that. God forbid that they should decide we needed one of those insidious lids on both ends!
    5) Or if you want a helmet that actually works, look into the archives at Magri HD for Armando’s old racing helmet. That leather thing took many a hit for that fine man while he raced the board tracks and left him just fine and unhurt!
    6) As long as they have a law, they’ll find a way to impose it on us. As a result, the only truly effective way to deal with this problem is to eradicate the offending law at its source: the legislature. At least then they have to start all over again.

  42. 42 Dave Blevins Sep 10th, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    My take on it is this, I know a lot of cops, truth is they don’t know much about the law in general… they are simply bouncers with a badge and gun, and while they like to make people think they know the law, they don’t. That is a job performed by lawyers, judges, juries, and the folks on capital hill that write the laws.
    This case took a while but ultimately proved that this helmet law (in its current form) doesn’t hold water. I would suggest anyone riding without a lid in California keep a Xerox copy of this case ruling in their wallet or saddlebag to remind the ignorant cops of this case, if they happen to stop you. Let’s hope that the broke-ass California legislature does’t have the funds or energy to pursue re-writing the law to make it enforcible.

  43. 43 Rogue Sep 11th, 2009 at 7:31 am

    I know that no matter what I or others do we will never please all of the people all the time.
    With that being said I am happy to read all the comments and hope that people were educated by them.
    I personally am against Mandatory Helmet Laws, But do not have a problem with those who wish to wear them. Hopefully people will get enough information to make a good decision on what is best for them.
    Just because a indivual believes a specific law is in their best interest, others that do not believe that way are intitled to their position as well.
    If you go back to when the Federal Goverment tried to Blackmail states into passing Mandatory Helmet Laws and Motorcycle Rights People and Organizations went to Federal Hearings in Washington and got that threat removed. The Goverment has never gotten over getting beat by a bunch of motorcyclist and that is whay they are still trying to push Mandatory Laws.
    You should also note that the other items in the blackmail threat were Mandatory 55 Mile Per Hour Speed Limit, Mandatory Seatbelt Laws, Uniform Blood Alcohol Content of 1.4, and some school bus legislation.
    Many of the laws that were passed were poorly written, like in Connecticut where it said you had to wear a helmet. What it did not say is on your head. Some will assume that everyone would have figuered that out. Well many people wore them on their knee and of course were ticketed and went to court over the issue. Yes the judges threw the cases out because the law did not specify clearly where to wear it. The court cases became many as those who did not want to be told what to wear for their own safety from others who in most cases did not ride.
    I should note that there became so many court cases that numerous judges ordered the police departments in their district to stop issuing helmet tickets.
    While this was going on motorcyclist were lobbying their legislators and haveing rally’s (helmet law protests) This led to that states legislature repealing the Mandatory Helmet Law.
    I see what is going on in California, North Carolina and other states as the same kind of action, People trying the cases in court and eventually appeal cases and or their legislature returning the right for indivuals to decide what to wear or not wear for their own personal protection.
    What I would like to suggest is that you decide what is right for you But to also support the rights of others to decide for them selves.
    There are also other laws that are not in the best interest of those who ride and if everyone who does gets together and helps each other it will be better for all of us.
    Thank You

  44. 44 janboltnc Sep 11th, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    Helmets are the best excuse for cops to stop, detain, search, harass, provoke, and bully motorcyclists, that has ever been invented.
    I have learned how to fight helmet tickets in court because it is the last legal method open to me to attempt to overturn the mandatory helmet law in a state where the legislature has knowingly enacted and the governor has knowingly signed into law, a law that is unconstitutional as enforced, in violation of Amendment XIV. I am concerned about the loss of liberty and the powers of the police state in what used to be a free country. When the government tells us what to wear, then sends their trained apes with guns and tasers after us, darn near running us down, claiming this is all for our own safety, it just doesn’t make any sense. This is far too oppressive to be the America I know.
    When you dig into it and find out the truth about the government lies, legislatures not caring if the laws they make are constitutional or not, and how the cops routinely lie their a** off, and the states pay the salaries of the traffic judges, so you have to study hard in order to get a fair trial as a pro se, it all seems like it is a bad nightmare. It just goes on and on; the more you dig, the more you understand, and the more obvious it all becomes. When you realize that there is no such thing as a DOT approved helmet, yet people are getting pulled over and searched by boisterous cops who are sure there is, there should be something inside any normal person saying there is something very wrong. It should be enough to make any normal person want to mount or join a concerted effort to get the justice system to use their injunction powers to order the cops to stop their unconstitutional enforcement of this vague law. They are using their subjective opinions which are incorrect, based on their suppositions and falsified information handed down to them, rather than fact. To quote Judge Barton, there is no such thing as a DOT approved helmet, in fact or in law.

    It seems to me that all normal people who have a strong sense of justice should understand that laws should not be vague and this kind of arbitrary enforcement is wrong and needs to stop. It is very frustrating when there is public support for the police state when they stomp all over the constitution. The public might be confused, thinking that absolute maximum compliance rather than absolute minimum compliance to the letter of the law is what is proscribed. The only explanation I can come up with is they have not studied case law such as Grayned v City of Rockford, mentioned in Rays’ article, and have not learned important concepts of our constitution. I won’t call them all stupid, though some are not as intelligent as others, but do hope all people develop an interest in finding out their constitutional rights and insist on them, for if they do not, we all face the threat of losing them. It has been proven time and time again within the last few decades, that those in authoritative government positions take the constitution lightly. The constitution is being stomped on. Why is this not a major concern for more people?

  45. 45 nicker Sep 11th, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    “…Why is this not a major concern for more people?…”

    Most Americans are under the erroneous impression that our Republic can survive when most of it’s citizens opt-out of the political process.

    And so that power vacuum has automatically been filled by “those who would be king.”
    Because “Nature abhors a vacuum.”


  46. 46 stephen Sep 15th, 2009 at 7:15 am

    Great debate! Good to see free speech in action.

    Here in Australia we have a national helmet law and every helmet must meet the Australian standard and have the standards Australia compliance sticker. Now our standard boys test the approved helmets at random and if a helmet fails then approval is withdrawn and the helmet company is fined and all the product has to be recalled. OK so if a cop pulls you up and your helmet does not have the approval sticker with the approval number for that exact helmet then you will get a ticket. So there is no place for the cop to decide if the helmet is legal or not. For us it is black and white.

    The danger as I see it in the USA is that the cop is making a decision if the helmet is legal or being used legally and that is a big problem. The police should not be making a judgement call.

    I don’t believe you can let the respective govts get away with letting the cop make the call if the helmet is legal or not. As I read it this is not about a law forcing you to wear a helmet. Stand up now and be counted while you still can. Don’t let your country end up like us downunder.

  47. 47 just my opinion Sep 15th, 2009 at 11:59 am

    There has been many good comments posted on this subject but nobody has answered my original question. Let me repeat it.
    If the state of California rewrites this law so that it is not vague. Then what has been acomplished?
    I believe the riders in California will still have to wear a helmet.
    As I see it the only thing that will have changed is that the attorney’s for abate will have gotten richer and the tax payer’s of California will have payed to fight yet another lawsuit. And nothing has changed for the riders of motorcycles.
    I have one more question who decided that this was the best arguement for changing the helmet law? I think going at it as a right to not wear a helmet issue is a better aguement but maybe that has been tried and lost. It seems to me that you all are going about this all wrong and because of that nothing will change on this issue. Maybe you should argue that motorcycles are the same as any other form of transportation and therefore we are being singled out by forcing us to wear a helmet. There are probably tons of facts availible to support car wrecks were the driver would have survived if they had a helmet on, so why are motorcycle riders singled out? That would be a better arguement than this lame BS of the law being to vague. Fighting for rights is all well and fine but use your heads for more than a hat rack and you might have a chance of winning.

  48. 48 Helmet Maker Sep 17th, 2009 at 1:31 pm


    The following is NOT Just My Opinion:
    The state can not rewrite the law so it is any less vague.
    Because of the federal pre-emption regulation in CA, and the way the title 49 US regulations are framed, and because of federal case law to back up the legislated verbage, it just about doesn’t matter what CA law says. They can not enforce anything except the actual federal standard. By now you know the standard DESCRIBES the TEST PROCEDURE.

    In other words, if the cops would just quit breaking the law and violating our Rights, they would not be able to write a ticket, unless you actually didn’t have some object on your head that had a symbol on it that looked like this: “DOT”
    If you go bare headed, you are violating the state law and the police can enforce that law by writing a ticket.

    You have advice on how we should go about attacking the law here. There really is alot that we have accomplished, that first gets ignored by the average rider. So if your legal knowledge level is back in 1993, the police can quickly figure out that you don’t know shit and will pay the ticket.

    If your knowledge level reflects current and complete legal information, the police can not ticket you even if you wear a bottle cap labelled “DOT” strapped to your head with elastic string.

    If a police officer has a 1993 era knowledge base (which is usuallu the case), he will eventually write a ticket to someone who can make the legal process extremely difficult, and he will realize that what he just did could have gotten him fired and fined by the Civil Court and/or the federal Court.

    Because we are such benevolent bastards, that has yet to happen. But when will I lose my patience? Probably soon, since the economic situation has placed a burden on me and I could really use some of that Big Money the cops have been raking in at our expense over the years.
    If the cop has a really nice house I might try to include that in the Civil settlement. I could use a good 2nd house as rental income.

    The answer to your question is: Who will dare light me up just because my legal helmet is so small no cop can even tell if there is one on my head. There are bigger fish to fry, money wise, for the cops to deal with. Right now there are 3 or 4 problem cops in the whole state of CA. We know who they are and our video camera is coming for them. I hope I’m the guy they write the ticket for.

    Here’s the other point – No attorney. We, in CA, teach this method to riders which is intended to be done without the negative, chaotic downside of relying on a lawyer that is taking your money, but is responsible only to the Court. If you’d investigate the successes, it would blow your mind and you’d quit using your keyboard for ridiculous assertions such as are found on this blog.

  49. 49 Tony Pan Sep 19th, 2009 at 7:36 am

    I’m quite amused at reading the responses to Ray Henke’s article. Some of the commenters poke fun at the freedom fighters because they think we can’t tell what a helmet is, presumably because we’ve already hit our heads. Well, the joke is that these readers can’t understand basic tenets of law and how our system is supposed to work. I don’t wear a helmet, don’t believe in them and never try to convince others not to wear one. I don’t care. Why does every rider who thinks helmets work try to convince others to do what they do? Leave me alone.
    And as for question of whether it’s a helmet or not, this is where you really lose sight of what Ray was saying. Of course none of us believe a baseball cap is a helmet. In fact, Quigley referred to his BOLT cap as head protection. Well, it does protect from wind and sun, so it meets that description. The important thing to know is, although Quig could not convince the judge that his cap was a helmet, the DA could not convince the judge it wasn’t. Take helmets out of the question and insert any item you want here. If there is a law prohibiting an action, like speeding, there has to be a distinct and direct description of the prohibited action. No speeding means nothing. 65 mph gives you direction to follow. Wear a DOT approved helmet? There is no such thing. Meet 218 standards? That’s a manufacturing standard for performance. Nothing tells you what a helmet is, what it’s made of, how thick the padding is, etc. Are we nit picking here? Damn right. Some of you need to get some backbone and start standing up for your rights, one of which is clear laws that are being forced upon you. If a law is vague, it’s unenforceable. What ever happened to “question authority”? We’re moving further away from a free people and closer to a compliant flock. Read the article again and try to grasp the meaning of what Ray is putting forth. If you can’t understand that concept, maybe it is you who have already been hit on the head.
    I’m haunted by the same demons that posessed our founding fathers….or blinded by the same light.

    Tony “Pan” Sanfelipo
    Founder, BOLT

  50. 50 Bruce Arnold Oct 7th, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Bruce Arnold []
    Sent: Wednesday, October 07, 2009 6:59 PM
    To: ‘Cyril Huze Blog’

    Hi Cyril,

    In response to the posting and comments on this blog entry…

    …I offer the following:

    I FREELY CONCEDE that most of our “Founding Fathers” (a.k.a. “terrorists” by the British) were lawyers (a word considered by many to have a pronunciation and meaning similar to “liars”):

    But other than having their legal practice suspended by choice or mandate (e.g. 91-C-02674)…

    …I suggest we draw no further parallels between the words and actions of the likes of Thomas Jefferson and those of Raymond L. Henke.

    I FURTHER SUGGEST that the American public in general, and American motorcyclists in particular, have much bigger fish to fry than frigging helmet laws. H.L. Mencken once wrote:

    “All I ask is equal freedom. When it is denied, as it always is, I take it anyhow.” ( )

    And you should all take H.L.’s advice: IF YOU DON’T WANT TO WEAR A HELMET, DON’T!

    I usually don’t wear a lid riding across Missouri on my way to Sturgis. I didn’t wear one crossing Nebraska from Julesberg Colorado through Chadron to South Dakota this year, either: (see Day 8)

    And don’t think for a minute you need to hire a friggin’ attorney, or play at being a friggin’ attorney, to do so. There are plenty of other ways to successfully defy the system and assert your independence. In fact, the more the fabric of our society crumbles as the scared Sheeple look to shock jocks and media clowns like Glenn Beck for leadership and salvation, the easier it is to ride by any courthouse with finger extended yelling “Fuck You!” And if you need help figuring out what to do or how to do it, then the virtual bad-ass freedom fighter image you are vainly attempting to project across the Internet must be a far cry from the reality of your Sheeple-in-wolf’s-clothing existence.

    Where were all you bad-ass keyboard cowboys (and cowgirls) on 28 February 2009? Well I can say with certainty where you WEREN’T … and that was putting it on the line as part of the Myrtle Beach Freedom Ride:

    Most of the comments I take exception to were from members of B.O.L.T., the “Bikers Of Lesser Tolerance”, who despite having over 60 forum members supposedly within five hours’ ride of Myrtle Beach, had only ***3*** show up on one of the few days when they had a real chance to prove their convictions and “make a difference”. And I can assure you that the disappointment and disgust that led to my separation from those posers began at noon on that Saturday…

    Bruce Arnold

  51. 51 janboltnc Oct 8th, 2009 at 6:52 am

    For the record, Bruce Arnold, you have no business publicly disclosing the number of members in B.O.L.T. within a 5 hour ride to Myrtle Beach. A motorcyclist with many miles on the road, such as yourself, should know better than to open your yap about such things in a public forum.

    Besides that, Benedict, you are totally incorrect. I administer a mailing list called “boltcarolinas”. If you got your figure of 60 people from looking at the number of people on that list, there is NO DIRECT CORRELATION between the number of people who subscribe to that mailing list and the actual number of B.O.L.T. members. It is a list which allows members and non-members in any geographical region, I never let you on that list, because I know you as a troublemaker looking for a fight,

  52. 52 Bruce Arnold Oct 8th, 2009 at 7:30 am

    For the record, Jan MacKay, I disclosed nothing that is not published openly on your Yahoo Groups pages, or that could not be known from having participated in the Myrtle Beach protest, which you did not. And you and I both know I could list the names and addresses of more than enough BOLT members living within 300 miles of Myrtle Beach to more than substantiate my assertion.

    But I won’t humiliate your little band of gutless wonders more than the distance between what you say and what you do already has. Unless, of course, I am given further reason to…

  53. 53 janboltnc Oct 8th, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Grow up! The Myrtle Beach SC protest ride was NOT organized by BOLT or any other organization. It was organized by many good and decent independent bikers. My motorcycle has been off the road with mechanical difficulties for over a year or I would have very much enjoyed being there. There is no shame in that. Again, it’s none of your business. You humiliate only yourself. There was a good debate going on here until you came along, making irrelevant and false claims as though anyone really cares, and picking fights in the safety of cyberspace. If you were to ride with an MC and started blabbering your head off, and talking out of turn with disrespect, someone would shut you up. Since you have many miles in the saddle you should know better. I kicked you off the boltusa list for making false accusations, picking fights, and making threats. Prior to that, I didn’t allow you on the boltcarolinas list because I know you are a troublemaker and not to be trusted. Now you follow BOLT into this discussion forum like a stalker. Take your tiny url and your tiny whatever else is causing you to overcompensate like a pre-pubescent teenager, and go away.
    That is all I have to say to you. OVER.

    I apologize to the rest of the people for my part in this interruption of a good debate in order to correct vengeful, false statements made as though they are fact. Let’s hope we can get back on track without further interruption.

    Jan MacKay
    Director, BOLT of NC

  54. 54 Bruce Arnold Oct 8th, 2009 at 12:53 pm


    I am not distracted from reality by ad hominem attacks, and the reality here remains as follows:

    The fact that the Myrtle Beach protest “was not organized by BOLT” is no excuse for only 3 “Boltsters” showing up. And the fact that your personal bike was broke down is no excuse for the many others that never left the safety of their garages that day.

    “Freedom Fighters” my ass…


  55. 55 Helmet Maker Oct 8th, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    It is pointless and detrimental to bring this type of childish tantrum into a public forum.
    This is not the main reason Benedict Arnold was removed from membership in BOLT, but it was one of the important factors.

    I’m beginning to wonder if the B. Arnold I’ve seen isn’t purposely distracting real soldiers in the Rights War – like a guy whose mission it is to camophage himself as a Rights guy while splintering coalition bonds and taking Rights workers off task. One who might be considered doing “Containment” of the Rights Movement.

    The most distracted and least effective our group has ever been was when we had to read the tiny Arnold typing any given day. Our group’s effectiveness does not depend on self promotion, as Bruce’s tiny thing does. I’d recommend that we stay on message and – Tiny Arnold stays on message. Just quit stalking the Rights Movement that refused to fall for your Tiny distractions.

  56. 56 Bruce Arnold Oct 8th, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    “Helmet Maker”:

    My postings, here and elsewhere, are based on facts. And nothing posted, here or elsewhere, disputes those facts. My suggestion to you personally, “Helmet Maker” (LOL), is this:

    Get a life. Grow a pair. Apply yourself to something that makes a real difference in this world. Then maybe, just maybe, you won’t be ashamed to sign your real name when you write something. Plus maybe, just maybe, what you’re signing your name to won’t be gibberish.

    Bruce Arnold

  57. 57 Helmet Maker Oct 9th, 2009 at 12:20 am

    So I take it this means you are still not interested in trying to understand the federal regulatory scheme and how it limits what enforcement officers are allowed to do in states with mandatory helmet laws.

  58. 58 Bruce Arnold Oct 9th, 2009 at 7:19 am

    So I take it this means you have nothing to do with your empty life other than write endless forum postings protesting laws that are not much more difficult to defy than speed limits, and which would have been taken off the books years ago if posers like you had the balls to take it to the streets and show the Man it would cost more to enforce the laws than it was worth.

  59. 59 Tony of Delta County MI. Jul 18th, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    How about when you are sold a helmet that was labeled as “DOT” when you bought it new, and then a few years later you are stopped and ticked for it because it turns out to be a novelty helmet that was impropperly labeled by either the manufacture or the shop that sold it? I bought it shortly after getting my first motorcycle and was only informed from the Michigan law that I was required to wear a helmet model that has passed testing approved by the ‘DOT’. I was never informed how to spot a phoney helmet, the ‘DOT’ sticker was on it before I bought it. Yes, I do know that a half/shorty helmet doesn’t offer as much protection as my fullface does, just the same as I know my bike doesn’t offer as much protection as my Towncar does.

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