New Mexico’s Child Safety Seat and Seatbelt Laws

New Mexico’s car seat laws and the penalties of a violation.

New Mexico requires all adult vehicle passengers to use a seatbelt but has special rules for children. The requirements vary depending on the child’s age and weight. Below is an overview of the requirements and penalties associated with New Mexico’s child restraint laws.

Child Seat and Seatbelt Requirements

New Mexico’s child restraint laws apply to all passenger cars, vans, and trucks.

Younger than one year old. Until at least reaching the age of one, all children must be in federally-approved rear-facing safety seats located in the rear seats of the vehicle.

One to four years old. Children who are between one year and four years old (or older but less than 40 pounds) are still required to use a child passenger restraint device, but the seat can be forward-facing.

Five- and six-year-olds. Any child who’s five or six years old (or older but less than 60 pounds) must be in a booster seat or child passenger restraint system.

Seatbelts. After exceeding the minimum age and weight requirements for child restraint systems, a properly fitting seatbelt is required.

Penalty. Failure to properly secure a minor child will result in a maximum $25 fine for the driver. The driver will also receive two driver’s license demerit points.

Recommendations

While not mandatory, the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division has created recommendations to promote child safety. Children should always be placed in the safest device that matches their size and weight.

  • Rear-facing seats. Children should be in rear-facing seats until they exceed the height or weight limits of the seat.
  • Forward-facing restraints. Children who have outgrown a rear-face seat should be in a forward-facing seat until they exceed the seat’s size limits.
  • Booster seats. A booster seat should be used once a child outgrows a forward-facing car seat. Children should remain in a booster seat until they can safely use an adult seatbelt.

Exceptions

Emergency vehicles, public transport vehicles, and school buses are exempt from child restraint laws. A person in possession of a physician note precluding the use of seatbelts for medical reasons is also exempt.

More Information and Resources

For more information about child restraint systems, check the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control. It’s also a good idea to register your car seat to be notified regarding recalls.

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