The Ultimate Guide to the New Mexico Seatbelt Laws
Data from the New Mexico Department of Health shows that injuries from car crashes are the leading cause of death in the population aged one to 24. What can prevent more fatal injuries during car accidents is the proper use of seatbelts. That is why it's important to understand and obey the New Mexico seatbelt laws. Besides increasing your safety, you will also avoid hefty fines and keep your driving record intact.
In this guide, we will answer your top questions about the NM seatbelt laws such as :
- Do you have to wear a seatbelt in the back seat in New Mexico?
- What is the fine for not wearing a seatbelt in New Mexico?
- What is the New Mexico child car seat law?
- What can you do if you are issued a seatbelt ticket?
New Mexico has a primary seatbelt law that requires all passengers and drivers to have their seatbelts on—regardless of the seating position. Police officers have the authority to stop you for not wearing a seatbelt and issue a citation.
Certain people are exempt from the law, for instance:
- People with special medical conditions
- Rural letter carriers on official duty
- Drivers or passengers in authorized emergency vehicles, public transport vehicles, and school buses
Child passenger safety laws specify the correct restraint device based on your child’s age and size. Under the Mexico seatbelt laws, you are required to properly restrain minors below 18 in federally approved restraint devices or seatbelts as follows:
|Age/Weight||Child Restraint Device|
|Up to one year||Rear-facing child passenger restraint systems secured in the rear seats|
||Rear-facing or forward-facing restraint devices|
||Appropriate child restraint device or booster seat|
|Seven to 12 years||Seatbelts, if they fit properly, or a child passenger restraint system|
If a vehicle doesn’t have rear seats, children can be restrained in the front seat after you deactivate the passenger-side airbag. Even though the New Mexico seatbelt laws don’t require it, children should ride in the rear seats at least until they’re 13.
The driver is required to ensure all passengers, including children, are properly secured before driving the motor vehicle. Violating the New Mexico seatbelt law or child car seat laws results in a $25 fine for the first offense. Subsequent violations have higher penalties.
New Mexico uses a driving record point system to monitor drivers' behavior. If you are found using an incorrect child restraint system or none at all, you will get two points on your driving record. Accumulating points can result in license suspension and also affect your insurance premiums.
The number of points accumulated affects the duration of your license suspension as follows:
- Seven to ten points in one year—The license is suspended for up to three months
- Twelve or more points in one year—You can get your license suspended for a full year
Unfortunately, you cannot take defensive driving courses in New Mexico to reduce the number of points. The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Department will clear them automatically after 12 months.
Every traffic offense, including moving violations, results in a penalty. When you receive a seatbelt ticket, you have the following options:
- Pay the ticket costs and accept the repercussions, for example, two points on your record
- Ignore the ticket and risk additional penalties and license suspension
- Dispute the ticket and possibly get it dismissed
If the ticket was issued unfairly, you can dispute it in a traffic court by using one of the following approaches:
- Reasonable doubt—Plead not guilty and provide a believable reason why the officer concluded that you had not buckled up. You can only use this method if the officer did not stop you to confirm
- Due diligence defense—Plead guilty but provide a justifiable cause for unbuckling—for instance, you were driving in reverse
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Every state has its own seatbelt laws, with the exception of New Hampshire that has children’s seatbelt laws only.
Travel stress-free by learning the seatbelt laws in all states:
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