New Mexico Car Seat Laws 2022 (Rear, Forward & Booster)

new mexico car seat laws

The New Mexico car seat laws for children are comprehensive. All children under 18 years of age have to be restrained in a federally approved child passenger restraint system or seat belt. The child passenger restraint system includes rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster seats. The law mentions specific age and weight requirements for each group. 

Disclaimer: The content in this article does not, in any manner, constitute legal advice. It is solely for the purpose of providing information. The law is amended from time to time and the information in this article may not always be up to date. We recommend you check the original source of the law.

New Mexico Car Seat Laws

New Mexico Rear-Facing Car Seat Law

According to the rear-facing car seat law in New Mexico, an infant less than 1 year old must be secured in a rear-facing car seat that meets federal standards. (1) The seat must be placed in the rear seat of the vehicle.

If there is no rear seat, the child can ride in the front seat but the passenger-side airbag must be deactivated. There is no requirement of a child seat in an authorized emergency vehicle, a public transportation vehicle or a school bus.

The rear-facing car seat age in New Mexico is 1 year after which children can move to a forward-facing seat. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that children ride rear-facing till they are 3 years old.

Violating the New Mexico rear-facing child seat law carries a penalty of $25. The person’s driving record is assessed 2 points. (2)

Age: Newborn to 1 year (3 years recommended)
Penalty: $25

New Mexico Forward-Facing Car Seat Law

According to the forward-facing car seat law in New Mexico, children aged 1 to 4 years, regardless of weight, or children weighing less than 40 pounds, regardless of age, have to be placed in an appropriate child passenger safety system. (1)  

This means a forward-facing seat that is federally approved. Only an authorized emergency vehicle, a school bus and a public transportation vehicle are exempt under the law. 

If you disobey the New Mexico forward-facing child seat law, you will be fined $25, with 2 points assessed to your driving record. (2)

The forward-facing car seat age in New Mexico is 1 to 4 years. But it is recommended that children stay in the forward-facing car seat as long as possible till they outgrow its height and weight requirements prescribed by the manufacturer. 

Age: 1 to 4 years
Weight: Less than 40 pounds
Penalty: $25

New Mexico Booster Seat Law

According to the child booster seat law in New Mexico, children aged 5 to 6 years, regardless of weight, or children weighing less than 60 pounds, regardless of age, must be placed in booster seats.

Additionally, children aged 7 to 12 years should also use booster seats if the seat belt does not fit. (1) Thus, the booster seat age in New Mexico is between 5 to 12 years. 

Once a child crosses the upper height and weight limits of a forward-facing car seat, they can shift to a high back or backless booster seat. As per the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), children should use booster seats with lap and shoulder belts until the adult safety belt fits them properly. 

The penalty for disobeying New Mexico booster seat requirements is $25. (2)

Age: 5 to 12 years
Weight: Less than 60 pounds
Penalty: $25

New Mexico Child Front Seat Law

The child front seat law in New Mexico is absent. The general car seat law only explicitly allows you to put a rear-facing car seat in front if the vehicle does not have a rear seat. But first, the passenger side must be deactivated. (1) 

We can imply that if your vehicle does not have a backseat, you can ride with the child in the front seat. However, they must be placed in a child passenger safety system that is appropriate for their height and weight requirements. Not following the child seat requirements in New Mexico will get you a fine of $25. (2)

The AAP recommends that children younger than 13 years should ride in the backseat. Since the front seat age in New Mexico is unclear, it is best to follow the AAP recommendations as the backseat is the safest place for child passengers. 

Age: 13 years or older (recommended) 
Penalty: $25

New Mexico Child Seat Belt Law

According to the child seat belt law in New Mexico, children aged 7 to 18 years can wear an adult safety belt. (1) The seat belt rules in New Mexico allow kids aged 7 to 12 years to wear the seat belt if they fulfill certain requirements.

They should be big enough for the seat belt to fit properly across their thighs and hips, not the abdomen. The shoulder strap must cross the center of their chest and allow them to sit back against the seat. 

The only exception to New Mexico children’s seat belt law is when all seating positions equipped with seat belts, whether the front seat or backseat, are occupied. Then not wearing a seat belt will not be penalized. Otherwise, there is a fine of $25. (2)

Age: 7 to 18 years
Penalty: $25

New Mexico Taxi Child Seat Law

There is no specific taxi child seat law in New Mexico. The only vehicles exempt from having a child passenger restraint system are an authorized emergency vehicle, a public transportation vehicle, or a school bus. (1)

Hence, taxis are not legally required to carry child car seats. 

Either the taxi driver or the parent/caregiver can provide the child seat. Since most taxis do not have it, the best practice is for the parent or caregiver to carry a taxi child seat in New Mexico.

You should follow the NHTSA guidelines to select the most appropriate car seat for your child. It is the safest option to travel with a child safety restraint system when traveling in a taxi. 

Any violation of the New Mexico child seat laws will get you a fine of $25. (2)

New Mexico Ridesharing Child Seat Law

There is no particular ridesharing child seat law in New Mexico. Under the New Mexico car seat regulations, the operator of the motor vehicle has to ensure that all passengers under 18 years of age are properly restrained. (1)

There is no mention of ridesharing services. In this case, it is better if caregivers traveling with children carry the appropriate child seat with them. 

The driver of ridesharing services such as Uber or Lyft can also have a car seat. But since the law is unclear, it is best for the caregivers to carry child passenger safety seats in New Mexico.

These must be federally approved and appropriate for the child’s age. Not having the correct car seat will be a violation of the law and attract a fine of $25. (2)

New Mexico Child Seat Replacement Law

There is no child seat replacement law in New Mexico. Car seats typically last for 6 years, after which they should be replaced. You must read the manufacturer’s instructions to check when the seat expires. 

The NHTSA recommends child seat replacement after an accident. If your vehicle is involved in a moderate or severe accident in New Mexico, you must replace the child safety seat.  

But there is no need to replace it after a low-impact accident. A low-impact crash is where no passenger gets injured, the door nearest to the car seat is not damaged and the seat itself shows no visible damage.

Another instance when you should replace the child seat is if it has been recalled. You must register with the manufacturer to receive recall and safety notices. 

Leaving Child in The Car in New Mexico

There is no law on leaving a child in a vehicle in New Mexico, but it is very dangerous to do so. The New Mexico Department of Health and the Children’s Youth and Families Department has strictly warned against leaving a child in the car in New Mexico.

There have been many accidents where children left alone in a car died due to heatstroke. The drastic temperature rise inside the vehicle can lead to severe injury, or even death, within minutes. 

There are other dangers of leaving a child unattended in a vehicle. They can get trapped in the trunk, set the car into motion, or be strangled by power windows or retracting seat belts. Therefore, you should never leave your child alone in a vehicle, even for a small duration. 

Choosing a Child Car Seat in New Mexico

You can refer to the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division when choosing a car seat in New Mexico. The Division recommends that children must ride in a rear-facing seat till they are at least 1 year old and weigh 20 pounds.

But it is better if they ride rear-facing until they weigh 35 pounds. Later, they should ride in a forward-facing seat with a harness. A convertible seat is the best car seat to use in New Mexico for infants and toddlers. 

Before the seat belt fits properly, children must ride in booster seats. The best booster seat to use in New Mexico is one that allows the seat belt to fit snugly over the lap and shoulders. 

Car Seat Installation Help in New Mexico

In order to install the child safety seat, you need to go through your vehicle as well as the car seat manual. Follow the given instructions to properly secure the car seat.

The task can be daunting if you have not done it before. To help parents and caregivers with safe seat installation, New Mexico has designated centers where you can get help with car seat installation.

These places have certified Child Passenger Safety (CPS) technicians that inspect and install car seats. Some of the places are:

New Mexico Car Seat Safety Resources

For more resources on New Mexico state law on child passenger safety, you can refer to the following :

FAQ

How long should a child ride in a rear-facing car seat in New Mexico?

Under the law, a child should ride in a rear-facing car seat till they turn 1 year old. Post that, they can shift to a forward-facing car seat. 

Can you put a rear-facing car seat in the front seat in New Mexico?

You can put a rear-facing car seat in the front seat only if the vehicle does not have a backseat. The front-seat airbag must be deactivated.  

Can you put a rear-facing car seat in the middle rear seat in New Mexico?

You can put a rear-facing car seat in the middle rear seat, but it must fit properly. You must go through the car seat as well as your vehicle’s manuals.

When can a baby face forward in a car seat in New Mexico?

Under the law, a baby can ride facing forward after they turn 1 year old. However, they should ride forward-facing once they outgrow the infant rear-facing car seat. 

How old for a booster seat in New Mexico?

Children aged 5 to 6 years or those weighing less than 60 pounds must ride in booster seats. Those aged 7 to 12 years can ride in boosters if the seat belt does not fit them properly. 

When to use a backless booster seat in New Mexico?

You can use a backless booster seat only if your vehicle seat has a headrest and the child’s ears are not higher than the seat back. 

When can a child sit in the front seat in New Mexico?

Children can sit in the front seat in an appropriate child safety system if the vehicle does not have a backseat. The front seat airbag must be deactivated.

When can a child sit in the front seat with a booster in New Mexico?

Ideally, children in a booster should ride in the back seat. If the vehicle does not have a backseat, the booster can be placed in front. The seat’s airbag must be deactivated.

When can a child stop using a booster seat in New Mexico?

A child can stop using a booster seat when the adult seat belt fits them properly. This typically happens when they are at least 4’9” tall. 

When to switch from 5 point harness to a seat belt in New Mexico?

When the child outgrows the 5-point harness, they can switch to wearing a seat belt in a booster seat. This usually occurs around 4-6 years of age. 

When can a child use a regular seat belt in New Mexico?

Under the law, a child can use a regular seat belt once they turn 7 years old. The seat belt must fit firmly across their lap and shoulders. 

Do you need a car seat in a taxi in New Mexico?

Taxis are not covered under the car seat laws in New Mexico. But it is ideal that the parent/caregiver carry a car seat in a taxi.

Do you need a car seat in a Uber in New Mexico?

The law is not clear on this issue. But either the caregiver or the driver should provide a federally approved and appropriate car seat to ensure the child’s safety. 

Do you need a car seat in a Lyft in New Mexico?

The law is unclear. It is best that either the caregiver or the driver provide a federally approved and appropriate car seat to ensure the child’s safety.

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