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New Mexico Car Seat Laws

A Summary of Child Car Seat Laws in New MexicoNew Mexico state laws as they apply to children's car seats

  • New Mexico law requires infants to ride on rear-facing seats until they are 1 year old and weigh at least 20 pounds.
  • Children who have outgrown rear-facing seats should ride on forward-facing seats until they exceed the maximum weight and height limits of the seat.
  • New Mexico law requires children 5 and 6 years old who have outgrown the forward-facing seat requirements to ride on booster seats. Children must stay in a safety seat until their 7th birthday regardless of weight.
  • The law requires children aged 7-12 years to ride on booster seats until they are big enough to use safety belts.
  • The best practice is to keep your child in the back seat until age 13.

Rear-facing Car Seat Laws in New Mexico

New Mexico law requires infants to ride on rear-facing seats until they are 1 year old and weigh at least 20 pounds. The law further recommends children should remain rear-facing for as long as possible or until the child weighs 35 pounds. According to the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), children should remain rear-facing for a minimum of 2 years or until they exceed the manufacturer’s top height and weight requirements. The rear-facing position is the safest for children since the baby’s developing small and flexible body is protected during a crash by the back of the seat. There are two main types of rear-facing seats, infant-only, and convertibles. Infant-only seats are designed for newborns while convertible seats have higher weight (up to 40 pounds) and height limits, allowing your child to remain rear-facing for a longer period of time (up to age 4). The baby should be fastened to the seat according to the manual’s instructions, and the seat should be installed in the rear of the car.

Forward Facing Car Seat Laws in New Mexico

According to New Mexico law, children who have outgrown rear-facing seats should ride on forward-facing seats until they exceed the maximum weight and height limits of the seat. Most seats can support weights of up to 40 pounds, but some go up to 60 pounds or more. This means some kids can safely remain forward-facing until age 7. The seat should be equipped with a harness and be federally approved. The harness straps are designed to fit on the child’s body and help in spreading crash forces across the less delicate parts of the body (shoulder, chest, and hips). So make sure the straps are snug on the child’s body and fastened according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The seat should also be installed in the back seat.

Booster Seat Regulations in New Mexico

New Mexico law requires children 5 and 6 years old who have outgrown the forward-facing seat requirements to ride on booster seats. The law also requires children aged 7-12 years to ride on booster seats until they are big enough to use safety belts. Children who weigh less than 60 pounds are required to use booster seats or car seats, depending on what is appropriate based on the car seat’s weight and height limits. A booster seat helps in lifting a child so that regular seat belts can fit correctly. A correct fit means the lap portion lies flat across the upper thighs while the shoulder portion lies snug across the chest. There are two main types of booster seats, backless and high-back. High-back is designed to support a child’s neck and head if the rear seats do not have headrests. If your back seats have headrests, you can use a backless. While the law says children should remain in booster seats until they weigh a minimum of 60 pounds, most booster seats can support up to 80 pounds. However, most experts agree that children with a height of 4’9” should transition to safety belts regardless of age or weight. This is because seat belts are designed for people 4’9” or taller, so anyone shorter may not fit in seat belts. A seat belt can also be considered appropriate if the child can sit all the way back against the seat without slouching, and with knees bent over the edge of the seat.

Requirements for children to use the front seat in New Mexico

No law covers front seat requirements for children. However, the best practice is to keep your child in the back seat until age 13. This is because passenger-side airbags are not designed for children and can be lethal if deployed. Also, if you must use the front seat, avoid putting rear-facing seats in the front seat or anywhere near an airbag.

Car Seat Law on Children 13-17 years in New Mexico

Children in this age group are required to ride while wearing seat belts that fit properly. Also, people older than 17 years are required to ride while wearing seat belts as long as the car was manufactured with seat belts.

Law on leaving a child in a car in New Mexico

The state does not have any laws that cover situations where children are left unsupervised inside a vehicle. However, if a child is hurt due to negligence, you can be convicted. It is recommended that you never leave a child unattended in your vehicle for any length of time.

Law on Smoking in a car with a child in New Mexico

It is not illegal to smoke in a car with child passengers, although it is not recommended.

Car Seat Law Exemptions in New Mexico

It is not clear whether commercial vehicles such as taxis are exempted. However, school buses are not required to comply with the state’s car seat laws.

Law on Car Seat Replacement in New Mexico

There is no law regarding the replacement of car seats. But according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car seats should be replaced after a severe or moderate accident. Manufacturer’s also include expiry dates on the car seats, so be sure to check yours.

More New Mexico Laws

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