What is the Law on Wearing a Helmet for Motorcycle Riders in NSW?

By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.

 

Most of us know that sinking, stomach-clenching feeling of realising you’re about to be booked for a traffic fine.

But imagine if you got fined twice for the exact same offence. Within 30 minutes.

It’s safe to say there’d be a lot cursing and indeed a lot of seeing red.

While the odds of such an occurrence seem slim, this was the very situation that a Sydney motorcyclist faced when he was fined twice within the space of half an hour for the same offence after he continued to ride his motorcycle without an approved helmet.

Sadly, the man claimed to have “no friends” to pick him up after receiving the first traffic fine.

 

The Minor Offence that Cost the Motorcyclist $674: How the Incident Unfolded

Earlier this year in April, the Sydney motorcyclist was riding on Burns Bay Road at Linley Point in the Lower North Shore.

At about 9pm, the 24-year-old was pulled over for a Random Breath Test.

However, much to his dismay, the breath test led officers to an inspection of his helmet, which revealed the chin strap was merely pushed up inside the padding and not properly secured.

According to the Traffic and Highway Patrol Command – NSW Police Force Facebook page, the problem was that “one half of the locking clasp was missing rendering the helmet unwearable”.

The rider was issued a penalty notice for not wearing a helmet securely, costing him a whopping $337, and because it happened to be the Easter Long weekend, meaning double demerit points were in force, he also copped six demerit points.

The motorcyclist was directed by officers not to ride the bike until he had a compliant helmet, to which he stated he would walk home or call someone to get him.

 

Rider Jumps Back on Motorcycle, Gets Fined Again Because “No Friends” to Pick Him Up

With a bus stop just 30 metres away, the answer to getting home was simple.

Nevertheless, the motorcyclist decided to jump back on his bike, only to be spotted by police officers once again only half an hour later, about 400 metres further down the road.

Indeed, he was on the same bike, and wearing the same illegal helmet.

When police pulled the motorcyclist over the second time, they discovered he had tied a knot in the strap to secure it to the other side.

And when asked why he got back on his bike rather than getting the bus home as he stated, he simply uttered that he had “no friends to pick him up”.

The was issued another penalty notice for the same offence of not wearing a helmet securely.

Combined with the first fine, the penalty totalled a mammoth $674 and 12 demerit points.

 

Motorcycle Safety in NSW

According to the Roads & Maritime Services, motorcycle riders risk serious injuries if they are in a crash, largely because they are more exposed.

In fact, over the five-year period 2013 to 2017, 323 motorcyclists were killed and more than 13,200 hospitalised from injuries sustained in crashes on NSW roads.

As such, it crucial for riders to wear approved helmets and riding gear so they can ensure they have the best protection.

When it comes to choosing the safest helmet, the Consumer Rating and Assessment of Safety Helmets CRASH website provides independent and consistent information on the levels of protection from injury provided by motorcycle helmets in a crash, as well as the comfort level of helmets.

CRASH is administered by a consortium of government agencies and a motorist organisation. These bodies all share a common interest in improving motorcycle rider safety. The program is supported by the Centre for Road Safety, Insurance Australia Group, and the Transport Accident Commission.

Motorcycle riders are also encouraged to know and follow the rules on mobile phone use, with learner, P1 and P2 motorcyclists forbidden from using a mobile phone while riding.

They should also be aware of motorcycle lane filtering laws and be conscious of avoiding hazards on the road.

Helmet Law for Motorcycle Riders in NSW

The Roads & Maritime Services makes clear that in NSW, riders of motorcycles, along with their passengers, must wear approved motorcycle helmets.

Like it or not, there are absolutely no exceptions to this rule.

The following penalties apply:

  • $344 on-the-spot fine with 3 demerit points for riding a motorcycle without a helmet if the rider is riding without a passenger.
  • $344 on-the-spot fine with 3 demerit points for riding a motorcycle if the rider is riding with 1 unhelmeted passenger.
  • $686 on-the-spot fine with 6 demerit points for riding a motorcycle if the rider is riding with 2 unhelmeted passengers.
  • $1,106 on-the-spot fine with 6 demerit points for riding a motorcycle if the rider is riding with 3 unhelmeted passengers.
  • $1,449 on-the-spot fine with 6 demerit points for riding a motorcycle if the rider is riding with 4 or more unhelmeted passengers.
  • $686 on-the-spot fine with 6 demerit points for riding a motorcycle with 1 unhelmeted passenger while the rider is not helmeted.
  • $1,106 on-the-spot fine with 9 demerit points for riding a motorcycle with 2 unhelmeted passengers while the rider is not helmeted.
  • $1,449 on-the-spot fine with 9 demerit points for riding a motorcycle with 3 unhelmeted passengers while the rider is not helmeted.
  • $1,791 on-the-spot fine with 9 demerit points for riding a motorcycle with 4 or more unhelmeted passengers while the rider is not helmeted.

The above fines and demerit points apply to the rider of a motorcycle.

There is a $344 on-the-spot fine to a motorcycle passenger who fails to wear a helmet. There are no demerit points attached to this offence against the passenger.

The above are penalty notice offences which if paid will conclude the matter without the need to appear in court.

As with all penalty notice offences, it can be court-elected by you requiring you to then attend court and plead either ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ to the charge. Demerit points and the fine will be avoided if a verdict of ‘not guilty’ is returned or the Magistrate imposes a section 10 non-conviction sentence even if a plea of guilty is entered to the charge.

It is recommended to take advantage of the advice from a free consultation that most experienced traffic lawyers provide if you are thinking of representing yourself in court.

It is important to be aware that, while a section 10 can be obtained to avoid the penalties in court, the Magistrate or Judge also has the discretion to impose heavier penalties.

Rule 270(1) Road Rules 2014 (NSW) requires a rider of a motor bike that’s moving, or is stationary but not parked to wear an approved helmet securely fitted and fastened on the rider’s head, and not to ride with a passenger unless the passenger is also wearing an approved helmet securely fitted and fastened on his/her head.

Rule 270(2) also requires a passenger on a motor bike that is moving or stationary (but not parked) to wear an approved helmet securely fitted and fastened on the passenger’s head.

Breach of any of the above rules will result in a maximum penalty of $2,200 if the matter is heard in court. However, the maximum penalty is rarely imposed and reserved usually to the most serious offenders.

A rider of a motor bike that’s moving or stationary (but not parked) is exempt from wearing an approved helmet if:

  • The engine of the motor bike is off; and
  • The rider is pushing the motor bike; and
  • It’s safe for the rider to not wear a helmet in the circumstances.

What is an Approved Motor Bike Helmet?

An approved motor bike helmet is a protective helmet for motor bike riders of a type that complies with any one or more of the following standards and has an identifying mark certifying compliance with that standard:

  • If it’s manufactured in Australia- the version of AS/NZS 1698 or Australian Standard (AS 1698-1988, Protective helmets for vehicle users (AS 1698-1988) that was in force at the time the helmet was manufactured, or a later version of AS/NZS 1698 or AS 1698-1988.
  • Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 1698:2006, Protective helmets for vehicle users (AS/NZS 1698).
  • If it’s imported into Australia, the version of AS/NZS 1698 or AS 1698-1988 that was in force at the time the helmet was imported, or a later version of AS/NZS 1698 or AS 1698-1988.
  • United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Regulation No 22 Uniform Provisions Concerning the Approval of Protective Helmets and their Visors for Drivers and Passengers of Motor Cycles and Mopeds Revision 4 of 24 September 2002 (05) and any further amendments to UNECE22.05 approved and published by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, or any later version of UNECE22.05.

The identifying mark in the case of a motor bike helmet manufactured after the 31 March 2011 must be identifying mark of a body accredited or approved by the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand.

Have a question?

Our traffic lawyers are in Sydney and Parramatta, with offices in 6 other locations across NSW.

We offer fixed fees and a free consultation. Call us 24/7 on (02) 8606 2218.

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