In B.C., while riding a motorcycle, you need to wear a helmet at all times. In addition, you need to make sure that your helmet meets the safety criteria specified in the regulations. Certification labels can be found either inside or outside of the helmet. Keep in mind that law enforcement agents can request your helmet to verify that it complies with the regulations and confiscate those that don’t.
Are there any exemptions to wearing a motorcycle helmet?
The only exception is for those who practice the Sikh religion or have unshorn hair and habitually wears a turban composed of 5 or more square meters of cloth. It’s worth noting that only three Canadian provinces –British Columbia, Manitoba and Alberta– have laws exempting members of the Sikh community from wearing a helmet.
Members of the Sikh community planning to cross the border should also keep in mind that the U.S. has its own set of transit regulations and some states have compulsory helmet laws.
Motorcycle Helmet Certifications
B.C.’s current Motorcycle Helmet Law dates back to June 1, 2012, when an amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act moved the province from being one of the last bastions in the country permitting riders to wear little more than a bottle cap to meeting the safety standards of the DOT (United States Department of Transportation), ECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe), or Snell (Snell Memorial Foundation).
The Motor Vehicle Act Regulations (B.C. Reg. 26/58) state the following:
For the purposes of section 194 of the Motor Vehicle Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c.318(the Act), a motorcycle safety helmet that meets at least one of the following requirements is designated as an approved motorcycle safety helmet:
(a) certification in accordance with the Snell Memorial Foundation 2005 Standard for Protective Headgear For Use with Motorcycles and Other Motorized Vehicles, as amended from time to time before or after making of this regulation;
(b) certification in accordance with the Snell Memorial Foundation 2010 Standard for Protective Headgear For Use with Motorcycles and Other Motorized Vehicles, as amended from time to time before or after making of this regulation;
(c) conformance with the DOT Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218; Motorcycle helmets (United States of America), also known as FMVSS 218 (49 CFR 571.218), as amended from time to time before or after making of this regulation;
(d) approval in accordance with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) ECE Regulation No 22 –Uniform provisions concerning the approval of protective helmets and of their visors for drivers and passengers of motorcycles and mopeds, as amended from time to time before or after making of this regulation.
Handing over your Motorcycle Helmet
Of further interest is the legislative change permitting law enforcement to confiscate helmets that do not conform to the new law. Failing to produce a helmet on request can lead to charges of obstruction and fines. Riders should be aware of s. 194 ( 8 ) of the Motor Vehicle Act, which states:
Without a warrant, a peace officer may
( a ) demand that a person produce a motorcycle safety helmet to allow the peace officer to determine whether the motorcycle safety helmet complies with subsection (3), and
( b ) seize the motorcycle safety helmet if, on production of the motorcycle safety helmet, the peace officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a person has contravened subsection (3) or (4).
Section 194 ( 9 ) adds:
( 9 ) A person commits an offence if the person obstructs or attempts to obstruct a peace officer acting under the authority of subsection (8).
The only exception to the Act and Regulations are those riders adhering to the Motorcycle Safety Helmet Exemption Regulation, B.C. Reg. 237/99.
The following persons are exempt from the requirements of section 221 of the Motor Vehicle Act:
(a) a person who
(i) practices the Sikh religion; and
(ii) has unshorn hair and habitually wears a turban composed of 5 or more square meters of cloth.
Note: This site is for information purposes only and is not meant to be construed as legal advice or motorcycle riding instruction. Circumstances concerning proper riding technique are subject to change with conditions and experience. Contact your local riding school for more information.
Content provided by Motorcycle Lawyer.ca is not to be reproduced without authorization. MotorcycleLawyer.ca is a pending trademark and any unauthorized use of the name or likeness is prohibited.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a motorcycle accident, call Motorcycle Lawyer at 604-612-6848, toll free at 1-844-BIKE-LAW or send an email for the location nearest you and to receive your free initial consultation.
NO RECOVERY. NO FEE.