New Mexico Car Seat Laws
The car seat laws in New Mexico indicate which age and size a child must be before he or she can begin riding in a car without a child seat. Once a child exceeds the height or weight required for a car seat, the booster seat laws dictate how soon a child can use an adult seat belt.
Even once children are old enough to ride without safety seats or boosters, they must be properly belted to comply with the adult seat belt laws.
Learning the correct booster seat age is important not just because it is the law, but because kids are safer when they ride in an age-appropriate seat, particularly during a car accident.
All drivers who transport children in vehicles, not just parents and caregivers, are responsible for knowing which laws to follow. Below, drivers can learn everything about car seat safety, including which laws apply and how to choose the correct type of seat for kids as they grow.
What are the car seat laws in New Mexico?
The requirements for car seats in New Mexico mostly relate to the size or age a child must be before he or she can begin using certain types of safety restraints in a vehicle. Parents should always refer to the recommended booster seat weight from car seat manufacturers, but it is also important to know what the laws say about each type of car seat. The most important regulations to know when choosing a car seat are as follows:
- Children are required to ride in a rear facing car seat until they turn one year of age and weigh at least 20 pounds.
- Rear-facing car seats can only be placed in the front seat if there a vehicle has no back seat and the passenger-side airbag is deactivated.
- All children must ride in a size-appropriate car seat or booster seat until their seventh birthday, no matter their size.
- Every child, regardless of age, must use a car seat until they weigh at least 60 pounds.
- Once a child exceeds the car seat ages, he or she must continue to use a booster seat until an adult seat belt fits properly.
- To be worn safely, an adult seat belt must cross the center of a child’s chest rather than his or her neck. Furthermore, the child must be able to sit all the way back with his or her knees bent over the edge of the seat.
Failure to follow these regulations can result in the driver receiving a traffic ticket.
Penalties for Violating Car Seat Regulations in New Mexico
The child car seat laws in New Mexico are strictly enforced and any driver who does not follow the law can be ticketed. Seat belt and child restraint laws are considered primary enforcement, meaning that a motorist does not need to commit a different offense in order to be pulled over or ticketed for breaking a seat belt law.
When a driver is stopped for a car seat violation, he or she will be responsible for paying the traffic ticket, which is a minimum fine of $25 plus any court fees that may apply in his or her local jurisdiction. Furthermore, motorists receive two points on their driving record for a violation.
While drivers can receive fines and drivers license points, violating the car seat regulations in New Mexico does not constitute neglect. In other words, tickets for child restraint violations cannot be shown as proof of neglect in any other civil matters.
Types of Car Seats
In order to follow the child car seat safety principles, it is helpful to learn about all of the different types of seats available. In general, there are three main types of seats: rear-facing, forward-facing and booster seats. The recommended car seat weight for each one of these styles will depend on the manufacturer or brand. If you are wondering which design is right for your child, then you can refer to the booster seat weight requirements under New Mexico’s laws, but you should also read the instructions from the seat manufacturer. With that in mind, some of the best car seats include the following designs:
- Infant seats, which are rear-facing seats designed just for infants, and usually, your baby will outgrow an infant seat at around eight or nine months of age.
- Convertible seats, which transform from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat as soon as your child reaches the correct size
- Combination seats, which change from a forward-facing seat into a booster seat once your child is big enough
- Booster seats, which prop your child up to the correct height needed to use an adult seat belt. Options include a backless design and a high-back design, which provides head and neck support
- All-in-one seats, which transition from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat before finally changing into a booster seat once your child is ready
Always keep in mind that even the safest car seats can present a danger if you are using the incorrect size seat for your child. Always look at specifications, such as the recommended booster car seat age, from the seat manufacturer to ensure you are choosing the correct type and size of the seat.
Car Seat Installation Information
Following all of the car seat regulations in New Mexico is crucial, but it is just as important that you learn how to install a seat properly. Each type of car seat will come with different installation steps, making it necessary to follow the instructions you receive with your seat. After installing a car seat, you can give yourself more peace of mind by having it inspected by a licensed technician.
Car seat inspection events are held throughout the year at various locations. However, local DMV offices in New Mexico will not be able to assist in the installation of a car seat.