Compared to other states, New Mexico’s driving laws are fairly lax. For example, you won’t get any points on your driving record for texting and driving, and the maximum fine is only $50. Let’s dive deeper into the laws in the Land of Enchantment.
Since New Mexico is an at-fault state, the party at fault in an accident is responsible for the other party’s bodily injury and property damage costs. However, under the state’s pure comparative negligence laws, accident victims can recover some amount of money for their injuries even if they were more at fault than the defendant.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
It’s no secret that New Mexico doesn’t require uninsured motorist coverage, even though 22 percent of the state’s licensed drivers are uninsured, which is 43 percent above the national average4. Companies aren’t even legally required to offer you this coverage type, so many people may not know it exists.
However, if you have multiple cars and add on uninsured motorist coverage, you can multiply your limit by your number of cars. This is known as “stacked” coverage. So if you had three cars with uninsured motorist coverage limits of $10,000 each and got into an accident with an uninsured driver, your limit would be $30,000.
New Mexico’s legal blood alcohol concentration limit is 0.08 percent for those 21 and older and 0.04 percent for those under 21. Even if you’re below the legal limit, if drugs or alcohol impaired your driving at all, you could be convicted of a DWI, leading to license revocation or criminal conviction.
|License revocation for failing a chemical test
||6 months if over 21; 1 year if under 21
|License revocation for refusing a chemical test
|Commercial driver criminal conviction
Seat Belt Laws
All adults (18 and older) in all seats are legally required to wear their seat belts in New Mexico. This law is under primary enforcement, so police officers can stop you simply for not wearing your seat belt, without any other traffic violations.
Distracted Driving Laws
New Mexico has a texting and driving ban for all drivers, but it bans the use of all handheld devices for these drivers only:
- Commercial drivers
- Drivers with learner’s permits
- Drivers with intermediate licenses
There is a $25 fine for the first offense and a $50 fine for subsequent offenses, with no points per violation6. These laws are under primary enforcement.
Teen Driving Laws
When teens get their provisional driver’s licenses, which they must hold for a year before graduating to a full license, they have certain restrictions:
- They can’t have more than one passenger under the age of 21, unless an immediate family member or licensed driver over age 21 is in the car.
- They can’t drive between 12 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by a licensed driver over 21, with exceptions for driving to or from school, work, and religious functions, or for a family or medical need. However, they’ll need a statement from the appropriate parent, guardian, doctor, employer, or school/religious official.
To graduate to a full license, they must also maintain a clean driving record.
- They must not have been convicted of a traffic violation 90 days before applying for a full license.
- They must not have a pending violation at the time of the application.
- They must not have been found guilty or had a pending offense involving the use of alcohol or drugs during the provisional period.7
When to File Claims
You need to file property damage claims within four years of the accident and personal injury claims within three years. Otherwise, your claim will fall outside of New Mexico’s statute of limitations and you won’t get compensation.
Cancellation and Non-Renewal Notification Laws
When it comes to cancellations and non-renewals, insurance companies are legally obligated to notify you before your policy expires. However, how long they have to notify you before the expiration date depends on the reason for the cancellation or non-renewal.
- Cancellations due to substantial changes in your risk (such as a DUI): 30 days
- Cancellations due to omissions, misrepresentations, or fraud: 15 days
- Cancellations due to nonpayment: 10 days
- Non-renewals: 30 days