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Friday, September 30, 2011

Lawsuit Challenges Nevada's Motorcycle Helmet Law

By Calvert Collins, Reporter
LAS VEGAS -- In Nevada, anyone riding a motorcycle or moped is required to wear a helmet. Bikers have been forced to wear a helmet since 1972 and there have been many attempts to repeal the law.
Twelve plaintiffs filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging the helmet law is arbitrarily enforced and that they have been discriminated against based on the helmets they wear. They blame the cities of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City and Mesquite and their police departments for the disparity in enforcement.
Experts say who gets pulled over can be subjective.
"Is law enforcement targeting a certain group of motorcyclists? Who knows? It's down to the street level -- one guy enforcing, another guy lets somebody pass," said helmet expert Fred Harrell with Las Vegas Harley Davidson.
"Some officers choose to just give a warning, hoping the person will understand the importance of why they got pulled over. Other times they feel the citation is warranted and it will happen," said Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Loy Hixson.
There have been attempts to repeal the helmet law. A Republican state senator from Sparks introduced the bill in four prior legislative sessions, but it failed in committee. This year, it passed one committee and died in another.
So far this year, NHP reports there have been 34 motorcycle fatalities: 19 in Clark County and 13 in Metro's jurisdiction.
That attorney and plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit declined comment for this story.