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New Mexico New Resident Guide

Welcome to New Mexico! As a new driver to this state you will need to be aware of our unique traffic laws and regulations. Here's what you need to keep in mind while driving in New Mexico. Some of these rules may be the same as what you're already used to, but others will be drastically different!

Licensing and Residency Requirements



  • A notice of change of address or name changes should be made to the MVD within 10 days.
  • Changes of address notices must be made within 10 business days of move.
  • Once you have established residency in New Mexico, you are required to surrender to MVD your license from any other state and apply for a New Mexico license.
  • Non-residents, who have accepted permanent employment in New Mexico, must register their vehicles within thirty days. Those who can furnish proof through their employers that their employment will not exceed 180 days need not register their vehicles in New Mexico, provided their vehicles are displaying current registration plates from their state of residence. (If gainfully employed for thirty days or more within a sixty day period the vehicle is subject to registration).


Graduated Licensing Program



Instructional Permit

Requirements

  • Must be at least 15;
  • Must have completed or be enrolled in a state-approved driver education program;
  • Must pass vision test and knowledge exam.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May only drive with an adult 21 or older who has been licensed for a minimum of 3 years.

Provisional License

Requirements

  • Must be at least 15 and 6 months;
  • Must have completed a state-approved driver education program;
  • Must have completed 50 hours of supervised driving practice, including 10 at night;
  • Must have maintained a clean driving record for the 90 days preceding application for a provisional license;
  • Must pass road exam.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • Unless a licensed driver age 21 or older is in the vehicle, a provisional license-holder may not have more than one passenger in the vehicle under the age of 21 who is not an immediate family member.
  • The teen driver may not operate a motor vehicle between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by a licensed driver age 21 or older. Exceptions are permitted for school, employment, family and medical need, or religious functions (licensees must carry a statement from the appropriate school, or religious official, employer, doctor, or parent/ guardian).

Full License

Requirements

  • Must be 16 and 6 months;
  • Must have held provisional license for at least 12 months;
  • Must not have been convicted of a traffic violation 90 days preceding application;
  • Must not have traffic violations pending at the time of application;
  • Must not have an offense involving the use of alcohol or drugs during provisional period.


Violation Point Counts

The amount of points that go against your driver's license for specific types of violations.



8 Point Violations

  • Speeding 26 mph or more over the posted limit on any trafficway if the limit is 15, 30 or 75 mph.
  • Speeding 26 mph or more over the posted limit on any trafficway if the limit is other than 15, 30 or 75 mph and the speed was at least 76 mph.

6 Point Violations

  • Passing school bus taking on or discharging passengers or displaying warning not to pass.
  • Reckless driving.
  • Contest racing on trafficway.

5 Point Violations

  • Speeding 16-25 mph over the posted limit on any trafficway if the limit is 15, 30 or 75 mph.
  • Speeding 16-25 mph over the posted limit on any trafficway if the limit is other than 15, 30 or 75 mph and the speed was at least 76 mph.

4 Point Violations

  • Failure to yield right of way to an authorized emergency vehicle.

3 Point Violations

  • Careless driving.
  • Failure to obey traffic instructions stated on traffic sign or shown by traffic control device.
  • Following the vehicle ahead too closely.
  • Failure to yield right of way in manner required.
  • Vehicle turning left at intersection.
  • Failure to yield right of way at yield sign after stop or when emerging from private trafficway.
  • Certain vehicles must stop at railroad grade crossings.
  • Improper backing.
  • Making improper turn.
  • Failure to drive on right side of roadway when required.
  • Passing vehicles proceeding in opposite directions.
  • Improper overtaking or passing of a vehicle.
  • Driving to the left of center of roadway when prohibited.
  • Passing where prohibited by posted signs, pavement markings, or hill or curve.
  • Passing with insufficient distance allowed for other vehicles or with inadequate visibility.
  • Speeding 6 to 15 mph over the posted speed limit on any trafficway if the limit is 15, 30 or 75 mph
  • Speeding 6 to 15 MPH over the posted speed limit on any trafficway if the limit is other than 15, 30 or 75 MPH and the speed is at least 76 MPH.

2 Point Violations

  • Operating with any defective equipment resulting in inability to control vehicle movement properly.
  • Operating with defective brakes.
  • Failure to signal intention to change vehicle direction or to reduce speed suddenly.
  • Giving wrong signal.
  • Overloading vehicle with passengers or cargo.
  • Failure to restrain child passenger properly.
  • Failure to use seatbelt properly.
6 pointsUpon the accumulation by the driver of at least six points, the Department may warn the driver of the possibility of suspension of the driver's license.
7 to 10 pointsIf a driver has been assessed from seven to ten points for violations occurring within a period of one year and the Department receives a recommendation from a municipal or magistrate judge that the driver's license be suspended for a period not to exceed three months, the Department shall automatically suspend the license for the period recommended by the municipal or magistrate judge up to a period of three months.
12 or more pointsUpon the assessment of points to a driver which causes the total points accumulated by that driver to equal or exceed twelve points for violations occurring within a period of twelve consecutive months, the Department shall suspend the driver's license for a period of twelve months.

If the applicant's license has been suspended for points, he or she must take the Traffic Safety Bureau (TSB) approved 8 hour Driving Safety course.



Insurance Requirements



Everyone who operates a motor vehicle in New Mexico must have a motor vehicle liability insurance policy. The Mandatory Financial Responsibility Act requires that proof of such insurance be carried in the vehicle at all times. The law specifies that you must carry a minimum amount of coverage to enable you to pay for damages arising because of motor vehicle accidents.

Minimum Amounts:

  • $25,000 Bodily injury to or death of one person in any on accident.
  • $50,000 Bodily injury to or death of two or more persons in any one accident.
  • $10,000 Injury to or destruction of property of others in any one accident.


Headlight Laws



You must dim your headlights from high to low beam when you are within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle, or when within 200 feet of a vehicle traveling ahead of you.

You must use your headlights:

  • 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise;
  • When visibility is less than 500 feet;
  • When you turn on your wipers.

There is no specific law allowing or prohibiting headlight flashing.



Implied Consent Laws



License Revocation for 1 year.



DUI Penalties



First Conviction

  • Up to 90 days imprisonment
  • $300 - $500 fine
  • 24 hours community service
  • 1 year license revocation
  • 1 year ignition interlock
  • Alcohol education and/or screening is ordered

Second Conviction

  • 96 hours - 364 days imprisonment
  • $500 - $1,000
  • 48 hours community service
  • 2 year license revocation
  • 2 years ignition interlock
  • Alcohol education and/or screening is ordered
  • Alcohol treatment is ordered for all subsequent offenders

Third Conviction

  • Up to 364 days imprisonment
  • $750 - $1,000
  • 96 hours community service
  • 3 year license revocation
  • 3 years ignition interlock
  • Alcohol education and/or screening is ordered
  • Alcohol treatment is ordered for all subsequent offenders

Fourth Conviction (4th degree felony)

  • 1 - 2 years imprisonment
  • Up to $5,000 fine
  • Permanent license revocation, subject to 5-year review
  • Ignition interlock required for remainder of offender's life, subject to 5-year review
  • Alcohol education and/or screening is ordered
  • Alcohol treatment is ordered for all subsequent offenders

Fifth Conviction (4th degree felony)

  • 2 years imprisonment
  • Up to $5,00 fine
  • Permanent license revocation, subject to 5-year review
  • Ignition interlock required for remainder of offender's life, subject to 5-year review
  • Alcohol education and/or screening is ordered
  • Alcohol treatment is ordered for all subsequent offenders

Sixth Conviction (3rd degree felony)

  • 30 months imprisonment
  • Up to $5,000 fine
  • Permanent license revocation, subject to 5-year review
  • Ignition interlock required for remainder of offender's life, subject to 5-year review
  • Alcohol education and/or screening is ordered
  • Alcohol treatment is ordered for all subsequent offenders

Seventh or Subsequent Conviction (3rd degree felony)

  • 3 years imprisonment
  • Up to $5,000 fine
  • Permanent license revocation, subject to 5-year review
  • Ignition interlock required for remainder of offender's life, subject to 5-year review
  • Alcohol education and/or screening is ordered
  • Alcohol treatment is ordered for all subsequent offenders


Open Container Law



New Mexico's open container law requires that no person shall "knowingly" drink alcohol while in a motor vehicle or "knowingly" possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage while in a motor vehicle.



Red Light Violation Fines



$75 maximum civil penalty; no points or criminal sanctions; municipality retains operating costs; balance to court construction, drug courts and DWI prevention.



Construction Zone Penalties



Speeding violations are subject to two times the original fine, whether or not workers are present.



Turn Signal Information



Signal your intention to turn or change lanes at least 100 feet in advance.



Hazard Light Information



Hazard lights are permitted on disabled or parked vehicles.



Funeral Procession Right-of-Way Laws



  • New Mexico has no state law regarding right of way for a funeral procession.
  • Funeral processions are not required to allow sufficient space between vehicles so as to enable any other vehicle to enter and occupy such space without danger.
  • It is illegal for a driver to knowingly obstruct, hinder, impede or block the progress of a vehicle participating in a procession to or from a funeral site.


School Bus Laws



Requirements

  • Vehicles are required to stop unless the bus is on a separate roadway, or when the bus is stopped in a loading zone which is a part of or adjacent to a controlled access highway and where pedestrians are not permitted to cross the roadway.
  • Vehicles must stop at least 10 feet away from the school bus.

Penalties

  • It is a misdemeanor for any person to violate any provision of the Motor Vehicle Code [66-1-1 NMSA 1978] unless the violation is declared a felony. Unless another penalty is specified in the Motor Vehicle Code, every person convicted of a misdemeanor for violation of any provision of the Motor Vehicle Code shall be punished by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars ($300) or by imprisonment for not more than ninety days or both.
  • Failure to stop and remain stopped when required is a misdemeanor, and will result in a fine up to $300, imprisonment for up to 90 days, or both.


Bicyclist Passing Distance



There is no specific law regarding minimum safe passing distance.



Motorcycle Laws



Licensing

  • First-time applicants for a motorcycle license or an endorsement on their New Mexico driver's license may be required to complete a motorcycle driver education program as prescribed by the rules and regulations of the bureau.
  • A restricted motorcycle license may be issued to any person 13 years of age or older who passes an examination prescribed by the MVD.
  • A Class M license allows the holder to operate a 2- or 3-wheeled motorcycle. It carries 1 of 3 endorsements:
    • W: any 2- or 3-wheeled motorcycle with an engine displacement of more than 100 cc (minimum 15 years of age with the successful completion of an approved driver education course)
    • Y: any 2- or 3-wheeled motorcycle with an engine displacement between 50 and 100 cc (minimum of 13 years of age).
    • Z: any 2- or 3-wheeled motorcycle with an engine displacement below 50 cc (minimum 13 years of age).

Protective Gear

  • Persons under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet while riding on a motorcycle.

Headlights

  • Daytime use of headlight not required.

Sharing the Road

  • Lane splitting is not authorized.
  • Motorcycles traveling side-by-side in a single lane is not addressed in state law.


Using the Shoulder to Pass



You may not drive off the roadway to pass on the right.



Passing Laws



Do Not Pass:

  • When approaching or upon a hill or curve.
  • When approaching within 100 feet of or traversing any intersection or railroad grade crossing.
  • When approaching within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnel.

When Being Passed:

  • Give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle.
  • The overtaking vehicle may signal by honking its horn.
  • Do not increase the speed of your vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.


Speed Limits



  • 75 mph on highways;
  • 30 mph in business and residential districts;
  • 15 mph in a posted school zone.


Safety Belt and Child Safety Seat Laws



Safety Belts

  • Occupants 18 years and older must wear safety belts.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for belt law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $25.
  • Points will be assessed for a violation of this law.

Child Seats

  • Children younger than 1 year must be in a rear facing infant seat. They must be in the rear seat if available.
  • Children 1 through 4 years or less than 40 pounds must be in a child safety seat
  • Children 5 through 6 years or less than 60 pounds must be in a booster seat
  • Children 7 through 17 years must be restrained, and may use an adult safety belt.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for child seat law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $25.


Emergency Vehicle Laws



Move Over

  • When you see any of these vehicles displaying flashing lights while stopped on or adjacent to the roadway:
    • Emergency vehicle.
  • You must do the following:
    • If reasonably safe to do so, drive in a lane not adjacent to where the authorized emergency vehicle is stopped, decrease the speed of the vehicle to a speed that is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances and proceed with caution.
    • If it is not reasonably safe to drive in a lane not adjacent to where the authorized emergency vehicle is stopped, decrease the speed of the vehicle to a speed that is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances, proceed with caution and be prepared to stop.

Following

  • Do not follow a fire apparatus traveling in response to a fire alarm closer than 500 feet, or drive into or park within the block where the fire apparatus has stopped in answer to a fire alarm.

Collision Procedures

  • Stop at the scene or as close as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary, and remain at the scene until all requirements are fulfilled.
  • Call police immediately if necessary:
    • If the crash resulted in injury, death, or property damage of $500 or more, you must report the accident immediately to the local police department, county sheriff, or state police.
    • If the driver is physically incapable of making an immediate report of the crash, any other occupant of the vehicle who is capable of making a report must do so
  • You must provide the following information to any other person involved in the accident, or any police officer at the scene of the crash:
    • Driver's name and address
    • Vehicle registration number
    • Show driver's license upon request
  • Provide assistance to any injured person, including transporting them or making arrangements for transportation to a hospital or doctor, if necessary or requested.
  • Unattended vehicle or property
    • If you have collided with a vehicle that is unattended, locate and notify the operator or owner of the driver's name and address and the owner's name and address. If you are unable to do so, leave a written notice providing this information and a statement of the circumstances.
    • If you have collided with other unattended property on or adjacent to a highway, locate and notify the owner of the driver's name and address, the vehicle registration number, and show your driver's license if requested.
  • Report crash
    • If the crash resulted in injury, death, or property damage of $500 or more, you must forward a written report of the accident to the department of transportation within 5 days.
    • If the driver is physically incapable of making a written report of the crash, and the driver is not the owner of the vehicle, than the owner must make the report within 5 days of learning of the accident.


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