New Mexico Car Seat Laws in 2021

In New Mexico law, a child under eighteen years of age must be properly secured in a child passenger restraint device or by a safety belt when being transported in a passenger car, van, or pickup truck. The purpose of New Mexico’s Safety Belt Use Act is to reduce the likelihood of injury or death to young children being transported in certain vehicles.

Babies and Children Up to One Year Old

A child under one year old must be properly secured in a rear-facing child passenger restraint device meeting federal standards in the rear seat of a motor vehicle. A child under one year old may only be secured in the front seat if the motor vehicle is not equipped with a rear seat and if the passenger-side air bag is deactivated or if the motor vehicle is not equipped with a deactivation switch for the passenger-side air bag.

Children One to Four Years Old or Under Forty Pounds

A child between the ages of one and four years old or weighing less than forty pounds must be properly secured in a child passenger restraint device meeting federal standards.

Children Five to Six Years Old or Under Sixty Pounds

A child between the ages of five and six years old or weighing less than sixty pounds must be properly secured in an appropriate child passenger restraint system meeting federal standards or in a child booster seat.

Children Seven to Twelve Years Old

A child between the ages of seven and twelve years old must be properly secured in a child passenger restraint device or by a safety belt. A child is properly secured in a safety belt if the lap belt fits properly across his or her hips and thighs and not his or her abdomen, if the shoulder strap crosses the center of his or her chest and not his or her neck, and if the child is able to sit all the way back against the seat of the motor vehicle with his or her knees bent over the edge of the seat.

Children Thirteen to Seventeen Years Old

A child between the ages of thirteen and seventeen years old must be properly secured by a safety belt. A child is properly secured in a safety belt if the lap belt fits properly across his or her hips and thighs and not his or her abdomen, if the shoulder strap crosses the center of his or her chest and not his or her neck, and if the child is able to sit all the way back against the seat of the motor vehicle with his or her knees bent over the edge of the seat.

Penalties for Violations

If you violate New Mexico’s Safety Belt Use Act, you may be fined $25.00 and receive two points on your driver’s license for a first offense. You may receive a larger fine and more points on your driver’s license for subsequent offenses, which could increase your insurance premiums or result in your driver’s license being suspended or revoked.

Enforcement of New Mexico’s Safety Belt Use Act

You may be charged with a violation of New Mexico’s Safety Belt Use Act whether or not you are charged with the violation of any other statute.

Exemptions

Your child may be exempt from New Mexico’s Safety Belt Use Act if all seating positions equipped with safety belts in the motor vehicle are occupied.

Your child may be exempt from New Mexico’s Safety Belt Use Act if he or she is being transported in an authorized emergency vehicle, on public transportation, or on a school bus.

* Ms. Blake is licensed in the state of Maryland. The information provided in this article does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.


Attorney Denise A. Blake*

Denise practices family law at Blake Law, LLC in Westminster, Maryland. She holds a Juris Doctor with an emphasis in Family Law from the University of Baltimore School of Law.