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.
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.
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.
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.
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.