Republican Bill to Exempt Turbans from Motorcycle Helmets Advances in California

Sikh motorcycle flag (Gabrielle Lurie / AFP via Getty)
Gabrielle Lurie / AFP via Getty

A bill proposed by California State Sen. Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) to allow those who wear religious turbans or head coverings to be exempt from state law requiring motorcycle helmets advanced in the State Senate last week.

Dahle, a former Republican gubernatorial candidate who ran against Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in 2022, proposed the legislation after being approached by members of California’s Sikh community.

The Los Angeles Times notes that about 211,000 Sikhs live in the state, and that helmets reduce head injuries in motorcycle crashes by 69%. It also reported:

Eighteen states, including California, have adopted universal helmet laws since a federal safety penalty was repealed in 1995.

Dahle acknowledged concerns about road safety and said motorcycles generally don’t provide much protection, but said his bill’s focus is freedom of religious expression.

According to an analysis of the bill, Sikhs or other groups are not exempt from helmet laws in other states due to religious practices. Several provinces in Canada, including Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario exempt Sikhs from helmet laws. Exemptions have also been granted in the United Kingdom and India.

The bill, SB 847, “would exempt from this requirement a person who wears a turban or patka as an expression of the person’s religious belief and practice when riding on a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle,” according to the state legislature’s website.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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