New Mexico Car Seat Laws

Current as of March 2024

New Mexico Car Seat Laws: What Every Parent Must Know

As a parent in New Mexico, keeping your child safe in the car is always a top priority. Following the state's car seat laws is not only legally required, but also one of the best ways to protect your little ones on the road. We've broken down the key points you need to know to ensure you're using the right car seat correctly every time you buckle up.

New Mexico Car Seat Requirements by Age and Size

New Mexico law requires all children up to their 7th birthday, regardless of weight, and all children under 60 pounds, regardless of age, to be properly secured in a child safety seat. The specific type depends on your child's age, height, and weight:

  • Infants (under 1 year): Must ride in a rear-facing car seat, no matter their weight.
  • Toddlers (1-4 years, under 40 lbs): Should use a rear-facing seat until they reach the height or weight limit, then switch to a forward-facing seat with a harness.
  • Young Kids (5-6 years, under 60 lbs): Must use a forward-facing seat or booster seat.
  • Older Kids (7-12 years, over 60 lbs): Should use a booster seat until the seat belt fits properly.

Remember, all children under 13 are safest in the back seat. By following these guidelines, you significantly reduce the risk of serious injury or death for your child if a crash occurs.

Installing Your Car Seat Right: Tips and Tricks

Choosing the right car seat is crucial, but proper installation is just as key. Always follow these steps:

  1. Read your car seat and vehicle manuals thoroughly.
  2. Place the seat in the back, facing the correct direction for your child's age/size.
  3. Secure the seat tightly with either the seat belt or lower anchors. It should not move more than 1 inch side-to-side or front-to-back when pulled at the belt path.
  4. Adjust the harness snugly against your child's body, with the chest clip at armpit level.
  5. For rear-facing seats, ensure the correct recline angle so your child's head does not flop forward.

New Mexico offers free car seat inspections at various locations, where certified technicians can check your installation and offer guidance. It's a quick, easy way to double check your work and ensure your child's safety.

Consequences of Breaking New Mexico Car Seat Laws

In New Mexico, police can pull you over and issue a ticket if they see a child passenger who is not properly secured. You may face fines and points on your license for repeat offenses - but the real cost is the danger to your child's life.

Car crashes are a leading cause of death for kids. Using the right car seat can reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers. So while it may be tempting to let them ride without the proper restraint, it's never worth the potential price.

Your New Mexico Car Seat FAQs, Answered

Still have questions about keeping your kids safe on New Mexico roads? We've got you covered:

Q: What if my child is over 7 but under 60 lbs?

A: Keep them in a car seat or booster until they reach 60 lbs, even past age 7. It's all about size, not just age, when it comes to car seat safety.

Q: Are there any times my child can legally ride without a car seat?

A: New Mexico allows very few exceptions, like in certain authorized emergency vehicles. If a proper restraint is available, you must use it for kids under 7 and 60 lbs. Don't risk it!

Q: Where can I go for help with car seat installation?

A: New Mexico has many car seat fitting stations where certified technicians can check your installation and offer expert advice. Many fire/police stations, hospitals, and health departments also offer this service.

The bottom line for New Mexico parents is simple: always properly secure your child under 7 (or 60 lbs) in the right car seat, installed correctly every single ride. By following the state's laws and best practice recommendations, you're giving your kid the best chance of coming home safe from every trip. And that's what matters most.