As parents, you want to keep your child as safe as possible — this includes when driving them around.
For that, you need to comply with the car seat laws in New Mexico.
But what are these laws?
What about other safety restraint laws, such as the seat belt?
Here, we’re going to go over all the New Mexico car seat laws, as well as the seat belt law.
This way, you can ensure safety for everyone.
So buckle up and let’s go!
Car Seat Laws in New Mexico
In New Mexico, children below 12 years old are required to be fastened in the proper car seat or booster seat.
Here are the specific guidelines:
- Car seat – for children 7 years old and below (regardless of weight) AND children below 60 pounds (regardless of age).
- Booster seat – for children 7-12 years old.
If the adult seat belt doesn’t properly fit a child above 12, then they’re required by law to still use a booster seat. They can stop using it once the seat belt fits properly.
Another thing. Children below 12 years old should always be placed in the rear seats, never in the front passenger seat. Though this isn’t a law per se, it is a lot safer for the child.
When should you use a rear-facing or front-facing car seat?
New Mexico doesn’t have specific regulations for which to use, but it is recommended to put your child in a rear-facing car seat as long as the manufacturer’s guidelines allow it. According to them, children up to 35 pounds should stay in a rear-facing seat.
On the other hand, a forward-facing seat is recommended for children weighing 35 pounds but not above 60 pounds. If the booster seat doesn’t fit snuggly, keep your child on a forward-facing seat until they can fit.
Car Seat Penalties in New Mexico
In New Mexico, the car seat law is primary enforcement. This means that, if a law enforcement officer sees your child not fastened in the right safety restraint, they can pull you over.
Those who violate the car seat laws will be fined $25 per incident, plus two points on their driver’s license.
Given that points are added to your license, your insurance premiums may also increase as a result of this violation.
Seat Belt Law in New Mexico
Now for the seat belt law.
In New Mexico, everyone is required to wear a seat belt as long as the vehicle is moving. This includes the driver and ALL passengers, whether in the front or back seat.
If you’re above 12 years old, you’re required to wear a seat belt, otherwise, you have to be in a car seat or booster seat.
Keep in mind, though, that there are a few exemptions to this law, including:
- Drivers or passengers in public transport vehicles and emergency vehicles
- Passengers of school buses
- Employees of letter carriers who frequently have to stop as part of their duty to deliver items
- People with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a seat belt
For the last point, you must have a physician’s letter explaining that wearing a seat belt is not possible with the person’s medical condition.
Seat Belt Penalties in New Mexico
Similar to car seats, the New Mexico seat belt law is primary enforcement. Again, this means that you can be pulled over for simply not wearing a seatbelt.
As for the penalty, it is the same, too —- you will be fined $25 and two points will be added to your driver’s license.
NOTE: If you reach 10 points within a year, your license is automatically suspended for up to 90 days. If you get 12 or more for the same period, your license is automatically suspended for a year.
The Importance of Using Safety Restraints
Why is the State of New Mexico so strict about its car seat and seat belt laws?
Well, it’s long been proven that wearing safety restraints are effective in reducing serious injuries and deaths in a collision.
According to the NHTSA, seat belts were able to save 12,802 lives in 2014. Up to 50% of passengers were saved from getting fatal injuries.
If you don’t know exactly how safety restraints help, let’s show you:
- It keeps you inside the vehicle. If you are tossed outside, the chances of a serious injury are much higher.
- It acts as the primary restraint to avoid injuries on the back, neck, and head. An airbag doesn’t provide this type of restraint.
- It keeps your children in place and not thrown inside the vehicle or in front of the car. Without a car seat, you risk them being thrown to many places.
- It reduces the impact of a forward collision.
The Proper Way to Use Safety Restraints
Don’t know how to secure a car or booster seat? Follow these tips:
- Always use the right car seat. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines on the weight and age requirements.
- Place the seat in the rear seat area and fasten it with the seat belt straps.
- Place your baby in the middle with their hips and back against the seat.
- Put the shoulder straps on top of them. Remove any blanket or thick clothing below it. If it’s cold, put a jacket or blanket on top of the car seat.
- The harness clip should be around the middle of your child’s chest. It should feel snug.
- The shoulder straps should be below the armpits or at the armpit level.
- Adjust the shoulder straps if it’s too loose on your child. They should not be able to web or get pinched.
- For booster seats, the lap belt should be on top of the child’s thighs, and the shoulder belt across the chest.
- Do not put the booster seat belts under the armpits.
And that was all you needed to know about the New Mexico car seat laws and seat belt law.
It’s not enough that you use a car seat if you aren’t using it properly. On top of placing your child in the recommended safety restraint, always check if they are secure and properly harnessed.
For adults, never think that nothing is going to happen. Always wear a seat belt whether you’re a driver or a passenger.
At the end of the day, you’re saving your life and the lives of your children.
It’s a bonus that you won’t be pulled over, too!
Always choose safety!