Motorcyclists can be pulled over for everyday traffic violations such as speeding and running a red light. However, motorcyclists have additional issues to worry about regarding getting pulled over. Here are the top reasons why motorcyclists get pulled over and how having an experienced criminal defense attorney can defend your rights if this happens to you.

1. Not Wearing a Helmet While Riding

California Vehicle Code Section 27803 makes it illegal for a driver and any passenger to ride a motorcycle or motorized bicycle without a helmet. 1 If you are caught violating this law, you may be fined upwards of $178.

2. Wearing a Non-Certified Helmet

Although you may think you can wear any helmet while riding a motorcycle or motorized bicycle, you are required to wear a helmet that meets certain requirements. Specifically, you must wear a helmet that withstands a certain impact and penetration, has lasting retention to stay on a rider’s head, and provides a minimum peripheral visibility of 105 degrees on each side of the helmet. 2

Helmets that meet these standards are typically Department of Transportation (DOT) approved helmets. You will know whether a helmet is approved by the DOT if it bears a “DOT” or “DOT FMVSS No. 218 Certified” sticker on the back of the helmet’s outer shell.

3. Motorcycle Noise

Over the years, California has become conscious of the noise produced by motor vehicles. As a result, California has specific laws regarding motorcycle noise depending on when your motorcycle was made. The following shows a breakdown of the maximum noise level corresponding to the year the motorcycle was manufactured 3:

  • Motorcycles manufactured before 1970: 92 decibels
  • Motorcycles manufactured between 1970 and 1972: 88 decibels
  • Motorcycles manufactured between 1972 and 1974: 86 decibels
  • Motorcycles manufactured between 1974 and 1986: 83 decibels
  • Motorcycles manufactured after 1985: 80 decibels

California’s Motorcycle Anti-Tampering Act

In 2010, California passed the Motorcycle Anti-Tampering Act, which requires motorcycles and aftermarket motorcycle exhaust systems produced on or after January 1, 2013 to display an EPA sound emissions label. 4

Punishment for Violating California’s Motorcycle Noise Laws

If you violate the Motorcycle Anti-Tampering Act or any other motorcycle noise laws for the first time, you may face a fine between $50 to $100, which may be dismissed if you show proof of correction. If you violate these laws a second time, you may face a fine between $100 to $250 without the ability to dismiss the fine. 5

Defenses to a Violation of California’s Motorcycle Noise Laws

If you have been cited with a violation of the Motorcycle Anti-Tampering Act or any of the motorcycle noise laws, a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney may be able to successfully defend your case. You cannot be stopped solely for violating the these laws, you must first be stopped for violating another traffic law. Even if you have a motorcycle or aftermarket exhaust that was built after 2013 that did not have an EPA sound emissions label or your motorcycle is louder than the maximum noise level, you must first be pulled over for violating another traffic law such as an illegal turn or speeding. If you were pulled over solely for violating these laws, a successful criminal defense attorney can get your citation waived by showing you were not stopped for violating another traffic law.

4. Motorcycle Emissions

California has strict laws regarding pollution emissions generated by motor vehicles. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulates pollution emissions from all motorcycles in California. California makes it illegal to alter any parts or accessories on a pollution-controlled vehicle that is related to the vehicle’s emission. 6

If you are cited for altering such parts, you must correct the issue and present a proof of correction.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Right Away

If you or someone you know has been pulled over while riding a motorcycle, or you have any questions regarding motorcycle laws, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, we have been successfully handling motorcycle citations for over 30 years. Our attorneys have the skill and experience necessary to help you obtain the best possible outcome in your case.

With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.


1. [CA Vehicle Code Section 27803(a)-(b)]
2. [Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218]
3. [CA Vehicle Code Section 27201; CA Vehicle Code Section 27202]
4. [SB 435]
5. [CA Vehicle Code Section 27202.1]
6. [CA Vehicle Code Section 27156]

Author

Author: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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