Elizabeth D. Sorrell, Esq.
Law Offices of Tom McGrath
813 Diligence Drive, Suite 121-E
Newport News, VA
Dear Ms. Sorrell:
This responds to your request for an interpretation regarding the DOT symbol on the label specified in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 218, Motorcycle
helmets. The DOT symbol is the manufacturers certification that the helmet conforms to the applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards. (See S5.6.1(e) of FMVSS No. 218). You wish to know whether NHTSAs June 22, 2000 response to the two questions posed by
Mr. William Gannon, II remains the same. The answer is yes, with regard to the first question.
The two questions posed in Mr. Gannons letter are: 1)
[M]ust the D.O.T. label remain on the helmet after the consumer purchased it? and 2) Is a person liable for prosecution if you paint your helmet or apply a decal over the D.O.T. Label?
In the letter to Mr. Gannon, we stated:
Federal law does not prohibit the helmets owner or any other person that is not a manufacturer, distributor, dealer, or repair business from removing or covering the label from a motorcycle helmet. Thus, the owner of a motorcycle helmet is permitted to remove or cover the label from his or her helmet for any reason without violating any provision of Federal law or Standard No. 218.
That response to Mr. Gannons letter continues to be valid with regard to Federal law. However, I would add that the letter to Mr. Gannon did not address State law requirements that may prohibit an owner from removing or obscuring the DOT label. You should contact
the State department of motor vehicles to determine whether your State has any such restrictions.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Dorothy Nakama of my staff at (202) 366-2992.
O. Kevin Vincent