LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) - Michigan will become the 31st state to give motorcyclists the option of wearing a helmet under legislation signed by Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday.
The legislation was approved with bipartisan support. Lawmakers had passed repeals of the mandatory motorcycle helmet law before, but the measures were vetoed twice by then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
Gov. Snyder's office told 24 Hour News 8 on Friday the law takes immediate effect, but it is going to take some time before all of the state's police agencies are notified and everything gets put into place.
The Michigan State Police issued a directive to its officers not to pull over helmetless riders and that riders are not required to provide proof of any of the law's provisions if they are stopped.
Under Senate Bill 291, sponsored by state Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair), motorcyclists --
- Can choose whether to wear a helmet if they are at least 21 years old
- Must have at least $20,000 of first party medical benefits coverage -- in case they are involved in an accident
- Must have passed a motorcycle safety course or have had their motorcycle endorsement for at least two years
Motorcycle passengers who want to exercise this option also must be 21 or older and carry additional insurance.
"My troopers are not going to stop investigating homicides and stop investigating criminal sexual conduct so that they can go take down those who aren't wearing helmets," MSP Lt. Chris McIntire told 24 Hour News 8. "We will enforce the law as it comes to us and deal with it kind of one day at a time."
"While many motorcyclists will continue to wear helmets, those who choose not to deserve the latitude to make their own informed judgments as long as they meet the requirements of this new law," Gov. Snyder said in a statement. "There is no substitute for proper training, education and awareness when it comes to operating any motor vehicle. We must continue working together to keep our roads safe by making sure that everyone who gets behind the wheel of a car or on a motorcycle has the proper skills. Traffic safety is a responsibility shared by all motorists."
"Every year, millions of dollars leave our state because of Michigan's outdated mandatory helmet law," Pavlov said in a statement. "This bipartisan plan will keep our dollars here, attract even more tourists to Michigan and help our state in these tough economic times."
The law was written with input from American Bikers Aiming Toward Education (ABATE) of Michigan, a motorcycle association dedicated to improving motorcycle safety and car driver awareness of motorcyclists on the roads.
The new law gives Michigan the strictest requirements for riding helmet-free of any state that has modified mandatory helmet laws for adult choice, according to a news release from ABATE.
"On behalf of all ABATE's members statewide and motorcyclists around the country who can now travel into Michigan and enjoy this great state with or without a helmet, I want to extend our gratitude to all of the legislative officials and Governor Rick Snyder who courageously supported freedom in the face of an onslaught of baseless and emotional arguments perpetuated by our opponents," said Vince Consiglio, president of ABATE of Michigan.
Michigan originally implemented its helmet-use law in 1967 to comply with U.S. Department of Transportation requirements for federal funds.
Critics say the change will lead to more deaths.
S.B. 291 is now Public Act 98 of 2012
A detailed description of the bill may be found at www.legislature.mi.gov
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