State motorcycle helmet laws vary depending on where you are. Though it's always advisable to wear a helmet, it's important to know the motorcycle helmet laws no matter what state you're in.
Many states do require that you wear a helmet all of the time, no matter what your age is. These states include Alabama, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. Being caught operating or riding on a motorcycle without a helmet is punishable by a fine and potential imprisonment, depending on the state. Each state varies when it comes to what constitutes a legal helmet, so it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with your state's helmet law before you purchase a helmet.
Then there are states that require that you wear a helmet until you're 21, provided you hold a valid motorcycle license. These states include Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Texas. Some states, such as Kentucky, mandate that you wear a helmet even if you're over 21 if you have only a motorcycle permit and until you've had your license for one full year. Kentucky also requires you to wear a helmet if you don't show proof of health insurance when you register your motorcycle.
Other states have somewhat looser helmet laws. These states only require that you wear a helmet if you're under 18. These states include Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
There are four states which do not require a helmet at all. These states are Colorado, Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire. New Hampshire does require people under 18 to wear a type of protective headgear though.