Bikers Sue Nevada Cops Over Helmet Law Enforcement

Nevada’s helmet law was originally enacted in 1972 and all efforts until now to repeal it have failed. But this situation could change if a lawsuit filed by a dozen local bikers is successful.

In a suit filed last week in U.S. District Court against the Clark County, Nevada and five cities within this County (Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson, Mesquite and Boulder City), the plaintiffs say helmet law enforcement efforts violate their Fourth Amendment protections from illegal search and seizure. In it, bikers claim an ongoing pattern and practice of issuing helmet that are not supported by constitutionally sufficient probable cause, thereby violating their civil rights.

Most recent studies show that states with no helmet laws actually have a fatality rate lower than that of states with mandatory helmet laws. Several reasons are given for this. Firstly, states with voluntary helmet laws as a whole have better rider education programs and better-prepared riders. This education leads to better decisions made by the riders that in turn, reduce accidents and fatalities. The second reason for this fact is the increased number of registrations translated to more bikes on the road. There are in fact more fatalities as a whole, but when compared to the number of registrations, the fatalities per rider are actually less.

33 Responses to “Bikers Sue Nevada Cops Over Helmet Law Enforcement”

  1. 1 Toby Nov 1st, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    It’s not the fatalities. It’s the long term medical expenses for head injuries that the state ends up paying. The same argument has been made against mandatory seatbelt use. That argument lost at the Federal appellate level, and has gone no further.

    I’m all for choice, but a biker without a helmet should have adequate coverage and not expect the state to pick up his/her tab for head injuries.

  2. 2 roscoe Nov 1st, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Well said Toby.

  3. 3 Jeff Nicklus Nov 1st, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    I agree Toby !

    Over & Out,


  4. 4 Big Nov 1st, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    I wish these zealots would get off the helmet bandwagon. If you want to push for laws that will actually benefit motorcycle riders, how about pushing for lane-splitting to be legal in every state?

  5. 5 Travis Nov 1st, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    It’s absurd to think that one must be expected to have adequate coverage for his/her tab as its impossible to predict total cost of life care. We all know that private medical coverages have a cap for payment. Either in total life coverage as in private health insurers or in per accident coverage in your personal auto/cycle coverage. Nonetheless, we take the appropriate measures to do our best in seeing that we are covered. No insurance is ever enough to prepare you against the worst case senario, but I am sure there are those who sill still use its platform to limit our FREEDOM!

    Not every accident results in head injuries, several other devastating injuries can be sustained in which the cost of care for far exceeds the cost of closed head injuries. Nonetheless, the focus continues to be shifted back to closed head injuries as its popular opinion is they could be prevented.

    I don’t expect your state to care for me, nor should I. If seatbelt enforcement is not a primary enforcement issue, it is more than a stretch for helmet laws to be a primary enforcement issue. Nonetheless, they are equally state laws.

  6. 6 deadwood1783 Nov 1st, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Very sensible response Travis. And, do we want to stop every lidless rider to see what kind of insurance they have. Always err on the side of liberty. Once any freedom is diminished, or gone, its usually gone for good.

  7. 7 colemanfu Nov 1st, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Live in FL and got pulled during Biketoberfest last month. Gave the fuzz my insurance, reg and DL. He imediatly gave my insurance card back and said “I don’t need this you have a helmet on”. I had on one of those cool novelty german lids ha. Never did understand that one but without a helmet you need a minimum $ amount.

  8. 8 Gas Man Nov 1st, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Well said Toby.

    Travis isn’t stating exact facts, because every state law is different for medical coverage with your MC insurance. In michigan, in regard to mc, there is no cap on medical coverage once it starts. It’s not the same for cars.

    I agree with Big about lane splitting.

    I also agree with colemanfu’s story… I’m all about choice, however, I (Mr Taxpayer) don’t want to pay for your poor choices in not wearing protection.

    Further, the logic is beyond out there. How do non-helmet guys think they should have a choice of riding without a helmet, when in a car surrounded by 40 air bags, crumple zones, side impact beams, whiplash protection, stability control, traction control, abs, etc, etc…. you have to wear a seatbelt. But on a bike the only protection the govt requires is a helmet, yet you think you shouldn’t be forced to do that. Logical? I think not.

    They have been trying to repeal Michigan’s helmet law, but most law makers want the medical insurance as part of it. I’m all for that angle.

    My $0.02

  9. 9 Mike Greenwald Nov 1st, 2011 at 6:11 pm


    Nice little soap box effort. Pay attentention. Thee lawsuit is not about the mandatory helmet law nor is it about the insurance. Do you understand this? This lawsuit is about the methods and methodology of enforcement.

    To address your point about injury and protection from it is another issue. In simple terms, the areas of injury in order of relevance are; blunt force trauma to the torso, bleeding from the extremities and in a distant third, head injury. These causes of death and grievous injury do not deviate whether or not the state has mandatory helmet, age restricted mandatory helmet or no helmet law.

    In states that have age restricted or no helmet law, more than half of the riders that are eligible to wear no helmet choose to wear a helmet.

    So, it really appears that you are a control freak trying to run my life. Let me send you a couple pounds of cheddar to complement your whine.


  10. 10 Patriot Nov 1st, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Well said, Toby.

    Of course you compared apples to oranges, were factually incorrect, and the argument was irrelevant.

    But it was well said. One out of four ain’t bad.

    If the police stepped all over your Constitutionally protected Rights to enforce your seat belt law, you would be a poor example of a Citizen if you just took it in the arse and didn’t stop the abuse.

  11. 11 Toby Nov 1st, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    The point of the seatbelt analogy is that the constitutional issue has already been tried and rebuffed at the federal level. The Nevada suits are a twist on the same issue. It is settled law whether we like it or not. The courts have agreed that states have a right to require certain safety equipment (and their use) because they are the ones paying the bills when drivers/riders get hurt. I did not and am not arguing for/against helmet laws.

  12. 12 Mike Nov 1st, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Well Vegas is having 1-2 fatalities a week, so this looks ludicrous. Better look out for muffler laws, as they would be a bigger PITA.

  13. 13 93horse Nov 1st, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Your head,, your choice,,, but I don’t want to pay for your choice

  14. 14 Boss Hawg Nov 1st, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Well now…I am wondering…Has anyone run this by Paul Ryan for his candid responses?

    Boss Hawg

  15. 15 Iron Player Nov 1st, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Mike Greenwald, brother I have to know where you get your facts from?

    To believe that injuries would not differ between riders with or without a helmet is fundamentally flawed and really just plain silly. As in anything you have to consider the source of the info and to me these stats sound as if they are more fuel a particular view point then anything else, but hey I have been wrong once or twice before.

    I’ve talked to many E.M.T.’s emergency staff and intensive care staff on this very issue. “IF” your looking for accurate data I don’t believe you can find a better source given the fact that really no other profession would have a better idea of the true cost during the entire healing and recovery process. And surprisingly the answer is pretty uncomplicated as things usually are when the peanut gallery finally decides to shut it.

    Turns out if you wear a helmet the chances of living and needing all those insurance / government dollars goes up. And funny enough not wearing a helmet has the opposite effect you tend to die more readily. Turns out that’s the cheaper option for everyone involved.

    Really the only difference is who gets the money in the end the doctor or the lawyers.

  16. 16 Nobody Nov 2nd, 2011 at 12:20 am

    Arguing about helmets is a red herring, people. Instead of infighting over personal choices, why don’t we focus on accident prevention.

    3/4ths of our accidents involve another vehicle, 2/3rds of those are at fault of the other vehicle. 1/4th of our accidents are single person incidents, with almost all being a result of operator error. In almost half of all our fatalities, alcohol was a factor. And if I remember correctly from the MSF course, a large percentage of our accidents are in the 4,000miles or less or less than 2years of riding range.

    Why not do something productive like increase funding for motorcycle safety courses? Hell if you really have your knickers in a knot to force people to do something make a safety course mandatory to get the endorsement. How about we encourage experienced riders to mentor lesser experienced riders? Why not encourage riders to take/retake safety course every few years? Why don’t we get more money into awareness programs, and get more active awareness programs off the ground?

    I ask you to kindly consider these things before pouring forth with scorn and traduce.

  17. 17 Boss Hawg Nov 2nd, 2011 at 4:49 am

    @ Nobody…well said indeed! However, we must always have the condescending opinions as some herein have chosen…although I am all for yours.

    Motorcycle safety, awareness and accident prevention is paramount. Should be part of every states drivers education curriculum and drivers license examinations. Insurance companies should lobby for this just as they have MADD, seat-belts, speed-limits and of course payment of your premiums discounted when paid in full for obvious reasons that most can figure out.

    Boss Hawg

  18. 18 Willyboy Nov 2nd, 2011 at 7:53 am

    looks like these guys are just trying to twist some laws about to prevent themselves from being pulled over, in a state/county that requires you wear a lid. Hey look a guy not wearing a helmet, when our state/county requires it… ” insert blue lights here” Living in Florida, it is a choice for riders provided that you are carrying the proper insurance… but should law enforcement pull me over while not wearing a lid just to “check this”, then yeah, I think this would make me some kind of cross.

    The part that gets me, is when you are committing a crime, petty or not. that is so obvious, how is it that you expect to be protected by an amendment that guards against illegal search and seizure? Having a joint in your pocket while talking to a cop will Not get you in any trouble unless you give him a good reason to go ahead and search your person, but if you pull this thing out and spark it right in front of him? at which point do you not expect him to help you to the ground? just sayin

  19. 19 Mike Greenwald Nov 2nd, 2011 at 8:13 am

    Iron Player,

    I am certain that if you expand your research, that you will be able to source the same data. Your cross section of interview should note geographic, topographic, economic and other variables. Many similar results to yours may be garnered and gathered when these considerations are not noted.

    Oft times, studies of any sort are funded by an organization that have a specific message that the organization wants to impart. Most studies that you will find are either limited in scope or they are flawed in data collection.

    Once again, we are all reminded that this lawsuit is not about helmets or helmet law, only about enforcement of an existing law.

    To address your claim about costs of injuries, I think that you are being somewhat disingenuous in how you present your argument. Your assumption of motorcyclist victimizing the government and insurance companies with all medical costs is fallacious without mention of causation of injury. The motorcycle does not cause the injury.

    I am not here to argue whether or not you or anybody else should wear or not wear a helmet. I don’t need to get into that. I am not here to argue that other activities provide hospitals with a much higher volume of head injuries than motorcycling.

    I could skew results of any study or point out how the results have been skewed. That is not the issue at hand.

    Your statement about costs of wearing versus not wearing is incomplete without mention of operator vision, hearing and strained compensatory musculature variables.

    I think that you are on the right quest for truth. I do not want you to mainatain nor change your point of view. I want you to be able to present all of the facts and options.


  20. 20 Kroeter Nov 2nd, 2011 at 11:19 am

    In Colemanfu’s case: If I’m wearing a novelty helmet and get a head injury, can I sue the law enforcement agency for not suspending my riding priviledges because I wasn’t wearing real DOT helmet?

    That is why this is joke, it’s enforced for the wrong reasons. It’d be like getting pulled over for a seatbelt violation. But then the cop sees you’re wearing bungee cords and let’s you go.

    When the courts get involved, none of us is as dumb as all of us.

  21. 21 roscoe Nov 2nd, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Anybody remember that show “In Living Color”? They did a skit of a black guy in jail that would always try to impress by using big words, but he always used them in the wrong spot.
    Some of these responses must have been written by that same guy.

  22. 22 Jeff Nicklus Nov 2nd, 2011 at 1:57 pm


    I am sure you are referencing comments made by Mr. Greenwald. In my reading of Mr. Greenwald’s comments I am sure what is throwing you for a loop is his use of multi vowel words which you seem not to be familiar with, therefore, I have taken this opportunity to review Mr. Greenwald’s comments and have come to the following conclusions: From what I can see every multi vowel word used by Mr. Greenwald seems to be used in their proper context, his verb usage appears to be correct, adjectives are correct and all nouns (including proper nouns) are accurate. In short his sentence structure is very good, if not excellent.

    So I suppose my question to you is: How does this relate to some lame ass TV Show? Just wondering.

    Over & Out,


  23. 23 Travis Nov 2nd, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Gas Man, I do believe that I am correct that policies are limited by the amount, dollar value, of coverage you choose. However, if another vehicle was involved in the accident you are correct for Michigan, it is unlimited. However, it is backstopped by the state. If it is a solo accident it is much different. However, its comical that Michigan is so bold to state that the risk and cost is spread accross the entire driving population, which is how the unlimited coverage is back stopped for individual carriers. The post by Toby states I’m all for choice, but a biker without a helmet should have adequate coverage and not expect the state to pick up his/her tab for head injuries. Which is what got me going, so even in Michigan, the state and other driving population picks up the tab if it is unlimited.

  24. 24 roscoe Nov 2nd, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Actually no, I wasn’t referring to Mr. Greenwald. What makes you think that?
    I was making a generalization, but I am sure that Mr. Greenwald will sleep better tonight knowing that there are people like you to come to his aid.
    My apologies to Cyril Huze for taking the topic off track.

  25. 25 Smittydog Nov 2nd, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Let those who ride decide.

  26. 26 Steve Nov 4th, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    @nobody. Well said. Team Oregon course is mandatory. Excellent class. My thoughts are to let those who ride decide. Personally, I choose to wear one (most of the time….there was the Ultra Classic rental in Hawaii last summer and, well, the doo-rag worked just fine….) And yes, DRIVER education is what’s needed. I lose count of how many times I yell at some commuter in the morning to put the damn phone down, quit texting and drive their cage responsibly. I want to get one of those go-pro camera things and film these people and their license plates and then go to the police and file complaints. See what kind of excitement I can stir up with that one!!!

  27. 27 Johnny"O" Nov 7th, 2011 at 11:07 am

    In Washington State, we were without the helmet law for years , then it came. after a few years, the law was repealed, but that only lasted a couple of years and now we have the helmet law again, and have had it for several years now . Get this tho : we are the only State in the Union which does Not require motorcycle insurance of any kind.

  28. 28 j9joey Nov 8th, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    to all of you, my question is this, ARE ANY OF YOU A MEMBER OF A.B.A.T.E.??? It’s an international Biker’s Rights org. that informs you of every legislative topic involving any and all aspects of motorcycle ownership rights.. A.B.A.T.E. is there to protect our rights.. For those of you who are too cheap of dumb to own this precious membership, ” S H A M E ” on you!!!!!
    For that alone you do not deserve the right to offer you opinions on any of any of the above subjects!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. 29 Shaz Nov 10th, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Really? What’s next mandatory Leather pants, jackets and gloves.
    Let the rider choose, and if your going to mooch off the system your going to do it regardless of an MC crash or car crash or trip and fall. Do the research, there are just as many cases where the helmet causes fatigue, over-heating, and brain damage in a crash. I’m not saying your safer WITHOUT a helmet I’m just saying ENOUGH IS ENOUGH with dictating how we live our lives. I live in the great “LIVE FREE OR DIE” state of NH. The rest of the Union should get back to our roots and follow the dying motto that we so love in this state.

    Ride your bike the way you want and let others do the same. There are bigger things our law enforcement and politics need to focus on.

    Live Free or Die, and ride hard!

  30. 30 Shaz Nov 10th, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Oh and Lane Splitting, is a no-brainer, should be legal in all states. Reduces traffic congestion and reduces fatigue and carbon monoxide poisoning while riding.

  31. 31 Mike Greenwald Nov 10th, 2011 at 5:20 pm


    Am I to believe that you are a kool-aid drinking moron?

    Many ABATE chapters in many states are nothing more than a co-opted acronym with a name change and mission change.

    Check yourself and your self righteous crap at the door.


  32. 32 Rogue Nov 14th, 2011 at 6:59 am

    I happen to be one of the Original Founders of ABATE – A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments and a Lifetime Member of ABATE of Florida.
    Abate of Florida has changed tht to something about aiming towards education.
    At present ABATE of Florida has said they revoked my membership because I went on a local TV Station and asked how the money they have been recieving in the form of safety grants was being spent. I have contested their notice because they have not followed the rules of the bylaws in trying to do so.
    In 2010 ABATE of Florida through their president and lobbyist Doc Reichenbach helped the State of Florida pass legislation that increased motorcycle licenses by $2.50 per vehicle per year. The lobbyist said the money would go towards.
    Those opposed to the increase reminded Reichenbach that Florida has a history of taking these funds and using them for other things.
    At the start of the 2011 Florida Legislative Session the state did in fact take the money again.
    Doc Reichenbach was reported as saying Abate was Not Opposing this as they Were Still Getting Their Quarter Million Dollars -$250,000.00
    The fact that Abate profited from this has upset many riders in Florida and also the fact on how they reported how they spent the money.
    Information on this can be found in the State of Florida document starting on page 16.
    Keep scrolling down to see the full disclosure.
    Is this the kind of organization you are suggesting that people join? I can tell you that because of this and previous actions by Abate more and more people are dropping out of it and less are joining.
    Would you mind letting me know what state you are from and what the letters represent in the organization you belong to?
    I will say that since each state is run independently there are some Good ABATE organizations.
    It is up to people to research what these organizations are really about and then decide if they want to belong.
    Abate is also known for trying to say they represent motorcycle riders of their state.
    In Florida the number of members Abate claims to have is less than 1% of the registered motorcycles in the state.
    That has prompted the Very Popular stickers and t-shirts that say ABATE of Florida Does Not Speak For Me.

  33. 33 Rogue Nov 14th, 2011 at 7:04 am


    Should BE:

    The lobbyist said the money would go towards Education

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Cyril Huze