New Mexico has child safety seat and seat belt requirements that generally apply to all children. The type of restraint required varies depending on the age, weight, and height of the child and the guidelines of the child seat manufacturer.
Child safety seat requirements. Under New Mexico law, children who are younger than eight years old generally must be secured in a child safety seat or booster seat that meets federal standards. (Federal law sets the safety requirements for all types of child safety seats.)
Type of car seat. Generally, there are three types of child safety seats: rear-facing, forward-facing, and boosters. New Mexico law requires children who are younger than one year old to be in a rear-facing seat in the back-seat area of the vehicle (unless the vehicle doesn't have rear seats and the front-seat airbags are deactivated). Children who are between the ages of one and four years old or weigh less than 40 pounds must be in a rear- or forward-facing child seat. Children who are between the ages of five and six or weigh less than 60 pounds must be in a child seat (most likely a forward-facing seat is appropriate) or booster seat. Children who are between the ages of seven and 12 must be in an appropriate child restraint system (most likely a forward-facing or booster seat) or using a seat belt.
New Mexico law generally allows children who are at least seven years old to use a normal seat belt.
New Mexico law generally prohibits children who are younger than one year old and in a rear-facing seat to be seated in the front-seat area of a vehicle. However, this restriction doesn't apply if the vehicle doesn't have back seats and the front-seat airbags are deactivated.
New Mexico law contains exceptions to the normal child passenger restraint rules for emergency vehicles and buses. Also, the requirements don't apply if all the seating positions in the vehicle equipped with seat belts are occupied.
A child safety seat or child restraint violation carries a penalty assessment of $25 and two traffic violation demerit points.
For more information about child safety seats and inspection events, you can go to the Safer New Mexico Now website. Also, recalls are occasionally issued for child safety seats. To find out about recalls, you can register with the NHTSA to receive recall information about the seat you have or search for recalls that have already been issued.