Long-sought helmet repeal in Nebraska advances to governor

By: - May 31, 2023 4:27 pm

State Sen. Ben Hansen of Blair speaks on the floor of the Nebraska Legislature on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Lincoln, Neb. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

LINCOLN — Motorcycle riders over age 21 will be able to ditch the helmet in Nebraska under a measure passed Wednesday in the Legislature.

The change to the state’s current helmet law, which was included as a late amendment to a bill adopted 41-0, now moves to the governor for approval.

It allows adult drivers and passengers to ride a motorcycle or a moped without a helmet in the state, starting next year, if they’ve completed a basic motorcycle safety course and have eye protection.

Motorcycle enthusiasts passing through Nebraska could also forgo a helmet if they have proof they’ve taken a course and are protected by eye glasses or a windshield.

The new law would be enforced as a secondary violation for those over 21, meaning a person could be ticketed for noncompliance only if there was another reason for a stop. It also increases the fine from $50 to $250.

Nebraskans under age 21 still have to wear a helmet, said State Sen. Ben Hansen of Blair, who led the effort to loosen the law that’s been in effect for about three decades.

Supporters for years have been trying to repeal the helmet mandate.

Hansen, who took up the battle three years ago, was able to attach it as a last-minute amendment to a bill related to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

He said he viewed his effort as a battle for liberty and said he happened to hit the “sweet spot” in terms of timing. Hansen said he has seen helmet laws become less restrictive, not the other way around.

“I’m excited for the residents of Nebraska to be able to ride free,” Hansen said.


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Cindy Gonzalez
Cindy Gonzalez

Senior Reporter Cindy Gonzalez, an Omaha native, has more than 35 years of experience, largely at the Omaha World-Herald. Her coverage areas have included business and real estate development; regional reporting; immigration, demographics and diverse communities; and City Hall and local politics.