Motorcyclists Sue Over Enforcement Of Nevada’s Helmet Law

Same illegal enforcement, same unethical prosecution, same dismissals. Same, same, same…

By Steve Green. “Twelve motorcycle riders filed a class action lawsuit Tuesday against Clark County and five cities within the county, charging arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement of Nevada’s helmet law. The suit filed in U.S. District Court names as defendants the county and the cities of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson and Mesquite; and Boulder City.

If certified as a class, the suit could represent more than 40,000 motorcycle riders in the county. The suit, filed by Las Vegas attorney Travis Barrick, charges “defendants, through their agents, have an ongoing pattern and practice of issuing helmet tickets to the class members that are not supported by constitutionally sufficient probable cause, thereby violating the civil rights of the class members.” This violates the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution barring unreasonable search and seizure, the lawsuit says.

The suit also alleges violations of the 14th Amendment protections against arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement, charging the defendants, through their agents, “have an ongoing pattern and practice of dismissing helmet tickets when contested in the courts or appealed to the courts, thereby denying the class members their due process rights to challenge enforcement of the Nevada Helmet Law.”

The suit also alleges there’s a disparity in fines and fees for helmet law violations with no rational basis for the disparities; and that the helmet law is enforced “as a pretext for invading the liberties and civil rights” of the class members. Barrick wasn’t available to elaborate on the allegations and the defendants have not yet responded to the lawsuit.”

Efforts over the years to repeal Nevada’s 1972 law requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets as a safety measure have failed, most recently this year.

Zipper's

24 Responses to “Motorcyclists Sue Over Enforcement Of Nevada’s Helmet Law”


  1. 1 zyon Sep 30th, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Ah geesh, glad I live in PA…. my choice to wear or not to wear! Thank you Commonwealth!

  2. 2 Larry R Sep 30th, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Glad I ride in IL. Let those who ride decide.

  3. 3 just my opinion Sep 30th, 2011 at 11:45 am

    I think this attorney is trying to help but is going about this at the wrong angle. The state does not have a absolute obligation to take every case or any case all the way to court, Therefore I think this case will fail. But that being said I do believe that Nevada does discriminate by allowing people to ride mopeds without a helmet but riders of larger motorcycles must have helmets. Both the moped rider and the full size motorcycle rider use the same lanes of traffic must stop at red lights and obey all traffic laws except the moped rider is not required to use a helmet and does not even have to be licensed. I believe if one rider must use protective gear and be licensed then so must all riders and if one is not required to use that gear neither should any rider be required to use protective gear. The way the law is currently moped riders get freedoms the rest of us do not enjoy and why should they, after all if you get hit by a car on a moped will your head get any less damaged than if you get hit by a car on a road glide? I hope that attorney reads this and maybe he will have an additional angle to go at the state with. Good Luck

  4. 4 bigitch Sep 30th, 2011 at 11:47 am

    isn’t driving a privilage given to you to drive in a state after you meet a certian criteria of that state and not a right?

    so why would this lawsuit stand under the amendments clause when the state can revoke your privilage to drive,and are allowed to mandate rules and regulations as part of this privilage.

  5. 5 zyon Sep 30th, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    I’m no expert on NV law but if that is true, it’s pretty stupid. In most states, if you are on a bicycle, you need to have a helmet on. If you are on a motorcycle, you need to have a hemet on, but if you are on a moped you don’t? that seems wrong but, I’m too lazy to look it up.

    I had some guy ride up beside me on his moped the other day at a redlight and he wanted to start talking bikes… Think he needed hearing aids after I dumped the clutch and hit about 8 grand on the tack…

  6. 6 Brett Ray Sep 30th, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Zyon
    That’s a good way to bring more people into motorcycling. Did you maybe stop and think, that he is just learning how to ride, that’s why the moped. Maybe he is thinking about or is ready to move up to a real motorcycle but still some questions. By asking you something about motorcycles then he must have had some respect for your opinion or thought you were cool or looked up to you in some way. Not now you can bet. As you rode away he didn’t think say “wow some day” he simply said “ASS”.

  7. 7 Cowboy Sep 30th, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Actually, I don’t understand the basis of the lawsuit. Arbitrary enforcement says to me that some people who are violating the law by not wearing a helmet are ticketed while other people who are not wearing helmets are not ticketed. All that is required for probable cause is for an officer to observe someone riding without a helmet. How does probable cause even become an issue? Is this really the basis of the suit? Or worse, that the suit is saying that notwithstanding the violation, violators are being treated differently by different judges. That’s what judges do-and it would seem that violators are not content that a judge has seen fit to be lenient and dismiss the ticket. Judging by Nevada’s nearly 40 year stand on helmets, it is likely that all the attorney is going to accomplish is having more riders (mopeds) covered under the statute. The pro-helmet lobby and its supporters only need to get the legislature to amend the existing statute to include all two and three wheeled vehicles and the case goes away. Not the right way to go about it if you ask me. Indeed, let those who ride decide. Thank you Florida Legislature for that choice!

  8. 8 zyon Sep 30th, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Brett,
    Dude was in his 40’s wearing a ginormous helmet, had on his bright neon green safety coat and did not remind me of someone that would be moving on to bigger and better things. Besides, I’m not his dad, mentor or buddy… you don’t ride up on someone at a redlight and start yelling…. even at an idle, my bike is loud and I barely even noticed he was there, let alone did I feel like sharing in a heat to heart moment waiting for a light to change.

    it’s not my job to being someone into riding. Had he come up to me at a gas station, I would have been more accommodating. Hit me up at a stoplight and I’m going to dump the clutch and see you in my mirror. If that makes me an ass…. well, I’m sure I’ve done worse to be called worse.

  9. 9 Boss Hawg Sep 30th, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    Geez…move it south..Florida is 38 miles and I head there by choice.

    Boss Hawg

  10. 10 Mike Greenwald Oct 1st, 2011 at 7:26 am

    Just my Opinion,

    Possibly, the issue is not helmets and rather the issue is the enforcement. If and when the enforcement varies,there arises a question of whether or not the accused can be made whole.

    What has happened to bring this lawsuith forth is a lack of “probable cause”. This means that the enforcement has been an arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement of Nevada’s helmet law.

    Constitutional issues are violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. The violation of the Fourth Amendment is covered because it bars unreasonable search and seizure. The violation of the Fourteenth Amendment is covered because protections against arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement were violated.

    Finally. there is disparity in fines and fees for helmet law violations with no rational basis for the disparities; and the helmet law is enforced “as a pretext for invading the liberties and civil rights” of the motorcycle operator and or passenger.

    The lawsuit is not about helmets nor what class of roadway user is required by law to wear a helmet. It is only about the enforcement of the helmet law.

    Mike
    _____________________________________________________________________

    Big itch,

    Freedom of movement is not precluded by the rebranding of right called privilege.

    The lawsuit has nothing to do with helmets. The lawsuit is about enforcement of law.

    Mike

  11. 11 Rogue Oct 1st, 2011 at 8:33 am

    The Mandatory Helmet Law is a different issue.
    This lawsuit is about selective enforcement Do Not Confuse The The Two

  12. 12 Rogue Oct 1st, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Cowboy
    In reference to Thank you Florida Legislature for that choice!

    Please be advised that Florida Has A Mandatory Helmet Law!
    The loophole in it is if you are over 21 and have Health Insurance you have the choice to ride with and or without a helmet.

  13. 13 Cowboy Oct 1st, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Rogue- you are correct. I forgot that as I am over 21. Hell, I am old enough to have been drinking legally in a bar at 18!

    I would like to see the complaint in this lawsuit. In other articles I have read regarding this suit, it seems what they are saying is that people get ticketed and then the tickets are dismissed so that there is no opportunity to challenge the helmet law throught the court system. That has nothing to do with probable cause so the strategy still confuses me. I am sure motorcyclists in Nevada are frustrated with their legislators. See link below.

    http://www.lvrj.com/news/helmet-law-repeal-bill-approved-by-transportation-panel-119890574.html

  14. 14 Rogue Oct 1st, 2011 at 9:53 am

    I am hoping that the people in Nevada who are involved with this will answer everyones questions.

    There is a event going on in Las Vegas this weekend and that may have a few people getting up later than normal. Also it being a saturday some may be sleeping in LOL.

    I think it is good there is a discussion on this and everyone should get what ever facts they can and then make their own decision.
    Not everyone is going to agree and that is fine but at least it is out in the open.

  15. 15 Mike Greenwald Oct 1st, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Cowboy,

    The probable cause in question is the ability for the citing agency personnel to determine at any distance the compliance or noncompliance of any helmet. If the stop is made, the citing personnel must be able to make the determination prior to acting and making the stop.

    Actually, the Supreme Court has determined that the helmet law in Nevada is valid. What is being said that a helmet cannot be inspected at any distance to be able for the LEO to make a determination, with certainty, that a helmet is compliant or noncompliant. Therefore, the probable cause for the stop, based upon visual observation at any distance, is erroneous. The stop then becomes a violation of illegal search and seizure. That fact makes a strong contribution to the claim that the enforcement is arbitrary and discriminatory. The “probable cause” issue is further enhanced and complicated when the traffic courts act in concert with the law enforcement personnel. The dismissal by the traffic negates the possibility that the case would be heard in any court of record. A court of record is important so that a form of double jeopardy is not repeated time and again when subsequent stops and citations are written for the same helmet.

    The complaint file is here:
    http://boltofca.com/files/Class_Action_signed_Complaint_NV.pdf

  16. 16 Olive Oil Oct 1st, 2011 at 11:12 am

    My helmet saved my life in Montana where there is no helmet law….can now continue to enjoy those calenders in this posting issue……

  17. 17 Mike Greenwald Oct 1st, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Olive oil,

    Where is the relevance of your comment? Or, did that get lost because your helmet is too tight?

  18. 18 golfish Oct 1st, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Mike Greenwald, a very good explination..

    Thank you, sir.

  19. 19 Travis Barrick, Esq. Oct 2nd, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Hello! There were some good questions and some good explanations (thnx Mike). And if you want to discuss with lawyer who wrote and filed the thing, give me a call.
    Travis 702.351.7422 cell

  20. 20 The Supreme Team Oct 3rd, 2011 at 11:24 am

    More interesting than this suit, is the fact that while in LV for Bikefest this weekend, I found it RIDICULOUS that a guy on a bike required a helmet, but on a scooter, they did not. I do not know if this is something consistent with an automatic tranny, or a CC issue, but how the hell do you allow one set of two wheels to be ridden without a helmet, yet not another.
    Mr. Barrick, can you explain that one?

  21. 21 just my opinion Oct 3rd, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Mike Greenwald; I understand that the suit is about enforcement. What I don’t understand is how any attorney can prove that a cop stopped these riders just for a possible helmet violation. As we all know cops are people too and people lie when they feel the need. If the cop in question says he stopped the rider for some other issue ” tail light flickering, rider weaving in traffic or any number of things” and then the cop simply has to say to the jury that he showed a little compassion to the rider and only ticketed him for the helmet issue and now he is part of a lawsuit for no other reason than he was doing his job and he gave that big bad biker a brake and this is the thanks he gets for being a nice guy, who does the jury believe? It becomes a he said– they said situation and a jury usually goes with the cops version especially against a biker. And remember there was just a major news story about bikers killing each other in Nevada. And you better believe that will be in the minds of any jury member unless of coure you go with trial by judge inwhich case this will be settled for some very small amount probably 20 to 50 thousand and no laws are changed. And even if this lawsuit wins with a jury trial what will change? The attorney will get half of any settlement so he is happy, the riders get half there money the tickets cost them back and it will only be half because the attorney will get the other half as part of his pay and so the riders are disappointed with their share? But the cops don’t do anything different other than now they know they must have a better excuse to stop you in the first place. Do we really believe that the cops will stop using other excuses? That is why I believe if this attorney wants to help he should be going about this in a way that could stop the helmet law all together but possibly there is not a big check in it for him if he does that and maybe that is why he wants to sue under these issues and not try and get the law repealed. Lets remember most attorney’s file suits for one reason and one reason only — they need a pay check just like we do — That being said let me be clear I don’t know this attorney and have no clue whether he has the skill and knowledge to pull off a case like this or not but it seems to me if he really wanted to do some good for motorcycle riders and not just collect a pay day he would be trying to get the helmet law repealed and not just suing for money damages. And I know attorney’s always say it is the money damages that get things changed, but what will really change here? the cops just get better at having a ligit excuse for stopping you in the first place? Is that going to help any of us? And the other side of this is if the lawsuit wins the people of Nevada get the previlage of paying more taxes to cover the cost of this attorney doing his job but it won’t stop there because is the casino’s have to pay more than they will charge more for food, tighten up those slots you all love to play when you go to vegas so we all will pay for this lawsuit that will likely accomplish nothing other than lining the pockets of some attorney who probably does not care even one little bit whether there is or is not a helmet law. Now the point I was trying to make earlier was the simple fact that Nevada does allow moped riders to use our streets along side of motorcycles without being licensed or have helmets and that is a clear case of the law not being applied equally. but what do I know I don’t chase ambulances for a living.

  22. 22 Travis Barrick, Esq. Oct 3rd, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Bitch, bitch, bitch. I gave y’all my f’n cell phone number and did you call? Nope.

  23. 23 greywolf Oct 7th, 2011 at 1:52 am

    Here in Japan you are required to wear a helmet The thing is, you don’t have to wear it on your head. I see lots of young kids on small bikes and scooters riding with the chin strap around their necks and the helmet resting on their backs. The local plod don’t seem to care as the riders are, in fact, “wearing” a helmet.

  24. 24 TigerLily Oct 10th, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Enforcement is arbitrary, malicious, and VEXATIOUS!

    Check out this prosecutor giving lip service to the appellant judge – trying to prove that he and his ilk were not “vexatious” and “malicious.”… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8LWkqRpQ24

    He is not the ONLY prosecutor that lies down and “takes” a beating when faced with a “real” fight. Correction – they take NO beatings. They just dismiss – AFTER they’ve put riders through the ringer.

    A simple search using the youtube search engine will show more vids – and I have so many in the works I can’t possibly keep up!

    Can’t for someone to get a tic in Boulder City – but I bet those cops have been instructed by that prosecutor NOT to go around giving tickets cause he got so scared of the judge he probably skidded his shorts.

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