Las Vegas Sun

December 4, 2016

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Motorcyclists sue over enforcement of Nevada’s helmet law

Twelve motorcycle riders filed a class action lawsuit Tuesday against Clark County and five cities within the county, charging arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement of Nevada’s helmet law.

The suit filed in U.S. District Court names as defendants the county and the cities of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson and Mesquite; and Boulder City.

If certified as a class, the suit could represent more than 40,000 motorcycle riders in the county.

The suit, filed by Las Vegas attorney Travis Barrick, charges "defendants, through their agents, have an ongoing pattern and practice of issuing helmet tickets to the class members that are not supported by constitutionally sufficient probable cause, thereby violating the civil rights of the class members."

This violates the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution barring unreasonable search and seizure, the lawsuit says.

The suit also alleges violations of the 14th Amendment protections against arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement, charging the defendants, through their agents, "have an ongoing pattern and practice of dismissing helmet tickets when contested in the courts or appealed to the courts, thereby denying the class members their due process rights to challenge enforcement of the Nevada Helmet Law."

The suit also alleges there’s a disparity in fines and fees for helmet law violations with no rational basis for the disparities; and that the helmet law is enforced "as a pretext for invading the liberties and civil rights" of the class members.

Barrick wasn’t available to elaborate on the allegations and the defendants have not yet responded to the lawsuit.

Efforts over the years to repeal Nevada’s 1972 law requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets as a safety measure have failed, most recently this year.

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