On September 1, 2023, the state of Delaware officially enacted a new motorcycle helmet law that pertains specifically to riders with new motorcycle endorsements on their licenses. As of September 1, 2023, any rider obtaining a new motorcycle endorsement on or after that date will be required by law to wear a motorcycle helmet and eye protection for the first two years after receiving that endorsement. 

Additionally, if a new rider in Delaware chooses to take a passenger during those first two years of riding with their newly obtained motorcycle endorsement, that passenger must also wear a helmet and eye protection.  

The bill that became this law, Delaware Senate Bill 86 (SB 86), was filed in the 152nd General Assembly (2023 to 2024) by Senator David P. Sokola. It had an additional 15 co-sponsors in both chambers of the state legislature and was signed into law by Delaware governor John Carney on June 30, 2023.  

Prior to arriving on the governor’s desk, it passed through both the Environment, Energy, & Transportation committee and the Public Safety & Homeland Security committee wholly on its merits. It also passed through the Delaware House of Representatives with 39 yes votes, zero no votes, and two legislators marked absent. It passed through the Delaware Senate with 20 yes votes, zero no votes, and one legislator absent. 

This new Delaware state law is in addition to the existing Delaware laws about motorcycle helmets and their usage. According to the text of SB 86, “currently, every adult operating or riding as a passenger on a motorcycle is required to have a helmet in their possession and wear eye protection while operating or riding a motorcycle and every person up to 19 years of age must wear a helmet and eye protection.”  

What Penalties Are Involved? 

For newly endorsed riders who are riding in their first two years after obtaining their motorcycle endorsement, the text of SB 86 reads, “A person operating or riding as a passenger on a motorcycle on the roadways of this State who fails to comply with this subsection is subject to a civil or administrative assessment of not less than $25 nor more than $50. An assessment of court cost other than those specified in this subsection may not be imposed. A violation of this subsection may not be classified as a criminal offense.” 

Violations of both this new Delaware helmet law and the existing one are considered civil penalties, rather than criminal ones, according to the text of the bill as it was passed. 

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