Bikers get law changed

Bikers get law changed

Posted by Ben Baker on Jun 9th 2017

After some bikers in Louisiana got arrested last fall for wearing bandanas, the Creole State legislature took a look at the law and exempted bikers from the law that bans full face coverings.


It was not a mass arrest, but a series of stops that led to more than a dozen bikers charged with an offense under Louisiana's anti-mask law.

LSA-R.S. 14:313 banned anything that completely covered the face, with an exception carved out for Maris Gras and kids at Halloween. The old law stated in part:

No person shall use or wear in any public place of any character whatsoever, or in any open place in view thereof, a hood or mask, or anything in the nature of either, or any facial disguise of any kind or description, calculated to conceal or hide the identity of the person or to prevent his being readily recognized.

Whoever violates this Section shall be imprisoned for not less than six months nor more than three years.

If you read that closely, you see wearing a full face helmet or a half or three-quarter helmet with a bubble shield was illegal in Sportsman's Paradise.

Louisiana is a partial rider choice state. The law says, "any person eighteen years of age or older who chooses not to wear a helmet as provided for in Paragraph(1) shall be covered by a health insurance policy with medical benefits of at least ten thousand dollars for bodily injuries and shall furnish proof of such policy to any law enforcement officer upon the request of such officer."

It's not just bikers that are affected. Melissa Kaplan writes about people who need to wear a health mask when outside. Some people have medical conditions. Others just wear one when mowing the yard.

"Need to wear an air filtration mask when you go out to avoid the effects of fragrances, chemicals, pollens and more? You may be breaking the law," she says.

As of this writing, California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia have similar laws on the books. A man in Virginia was arrested not too long ago for going out in public in makeup to make him look like the Joker.

People who make a living as circus-type clowns could be arrested too.


The idea behind the law was to stop the Ku Klux Klan from hearing face-hiding hooded they went around terrorizing people. The lawmakers reasoned that if people have to show their faces, they could be identified later if need be. Most likely many hoped making full-face masks illegal would deter the Klan from doing some stuff.


Bikers came together over this law at the Louisiana State Legislature did something about it. As of this writing, HB 161 is sitting on the governor's desk awaiting his decision. Check the status here.

The new law reads in part, "To amend and reenact R.S. 14:313(D) and to enact R.S. 14:313(C)(4) and (5), relative to offenses affecting the public generally; to provide relative to the prohibition on wearing hoods, masks, and other facial disguises in public places; to provide an exception for persons driving or riding a motorcycle; to provide for exceptions; and to provide for related matters."

No change in the law for professional clowns. Insert your own joke about politicians here.


The Motorcycle Profiling Project says the change happened because bikers came together and demanded change. "Motorcyclists in Louisiana score a big win! Efforts of motorcycle rights advocates paid off when the Louisiana legislature approved a law exempting “persons driving or riding a motorcycle” from the state’s anti-masking statute," says the victory report.

The biker world needs more of this. We just don't need to wait until someone gets arrested.

"What if I told you that at ALL levels of society there exists prejudice against motorcycle lifestyles. That in all levels of government and society there are those who actively, intentionally work against us. That if we are not vigilant, our kind will go away...What then? Join ABATE GA. Join the fight to protect our way of life," said Brian "Skinny Bob" Clifford, president of Georgia's ABATE motorcycle rights group.
This article in the archives points to some rights groups.