Traffic Safety Laws in New Mexico

Seat Belts

State law requires anyone riding in a motor vehicle that was manufactured with seat belts to wear a seat belt while the vehicle is in motion.

Police officers have the right to pull over a vehicle just because an occupant is not obeying this law. Violators may be fined, have points assessed on their license, and face possible additional fees depending on where they live.

Child Car Seat Laws

The rules concerning safety seats vary with the child's age.

Children under 1 year old need to be properly secured in an approved rear-facing safety seat placed in the back seat of the vehicle. In a vehicle without a rear seat, place the child in a safety seat on the front passenger seat, as long as the passenger-side air bag has been deactivated.

Children between the ages of 1 through 4 years old and those weighing under 40 lbs. must be properly secured in an approved safety seat.

Children ages 5 and 6 years old and those weighing under 60 lbs. must be properly secured in an approved booster seat or another appropriate car seat.

Children between 7 and 12 years old may be properly secured in a car seat or booster seat, or by a seat belt.

If you're in the market for one, you can shop online for a car seat at any time. When ordering, be sure the car seat matches your child's height, weight and age.


Drivers may be fined $25, have 2 points assessed on their license, and face possible additional fees depending on where they live for failing to properly secure children riding in their vehicle.

Safety Seat Fitting Locations

Those needing direction on selecting the proper safety seat should make an appointment to consult with an expert at a child safety seat fitting location.

Additional Information

For more information on seat belt or child safety seat laws, call the Traffic Safety Division at (800) 541-7952. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also has a lot more information.

Electronic Devices and Texting

In New Mexico state law makes it illegal for learner's permit and intermediate license holders or anyone under 18 years old to:

  • Text while driving.
  • Use a hand-held electronic device while driving.

Some local authorities prohibit the use of hand-held devices while driving:

  • Albuquerque.
  • Santa Fe.
  • Las Cruces.
  • Gallup.
  • Taos.
  • Espanola.

If you're driving in New Mexico you should know the distracted driving laws in the area in which you'll be driving.


Headlights must be turned on when driving from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise, and at any other time when it's not possible to clearly see at least 500 feet ahead.


Anyone under the age of 18 years old riding a motorcycle, or is a passenger on a motorcycle, must wear a helmet.

A motorcycle driver must wear protective glasses, goggles, or a faceshield if the bike doesn't have a windshield.

Reporting Drunk Drivers

If you suspect someone is driving under the influence, you may call (877) DWI HALT or #DWI (cell phone only) to report the driver.

Give the operator as much specific information as possible, including the vehicle's location, license plate number, type, color, the direction it was heading, and why you suspect the driver is inebriated.

Only use this number to report possible drunk drivers. Call 911 to report serious accidents or other dangerous situations.

Unattended Children

New Mexico doesn't have any specific laws addressing the issue of leaving children unattended in a vehicle.

Leaving children in a car may risk their lives if the weather's hot or cold; subject them to accidents (children can undo parking brakes); or expose them to kidnappers.

Knowingly or negligently putting a child in a situation in which the child's health or safety could be at risk can be considered child abuse.

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