New Mexico Car Seat Laws for 2022 – Here is What You Need to Know

Did you know that back in 2015, New Mexico was declared as a second-worst US state of reckless drivers?

Based on the research done by NHTSA, New Mexico ranked 10th for drunk driving vehicle operation.

The numbers since then keep adding up, making the traffic situation genuinely terrible.

The worst fact is that most drivers responsible for car collisions were underage or inexperienced drivers who haven't spent time behind the wheel.

Please, take care of your young ones by following the laws of the state of New Mexico to deliver the safe ride for your passengers.

This article will focus on the youngest passengers who require specific restraint systems during the ride.

That being said, here are the New Mexico Car Seat Laws you should know.

Car Seat Law

new mexico car seat laws 2022

New Mexico law declares that children under 18 years old have to be secured in a passenger restraint device.

Whether that is a booster seat, car seat with a harness, or a seat belt, they must be adequately secured.

The purpose of this law and many others is to reduce the chances of car collisions and injuries, especially for the youngest passengers.

1. What Is the Car Seat Law for Infants?

Babies who weigh under 20 pounds have to be in rear-facing car seats until they turn one year old. 

Of course, you need to check with the car seat manufacturer's instructions to know when it is appropriate for your baby to ride in a forward-faced seat.

Following the recommendations are given out by the American Association of Pediatrics, babies and toddlers should be secured in a rear-facing seat until they turn two years old.

For New Mexico, you can see that the limit is until they turn 12 months.

However, it is always best to consult with the child's weight and height first.

2. Rear-faced Seat Law

Like with the infant car seat law, New Mexico law states that children should remain in the rear-faced seat until they turn one year old.

They also have to surpass the recommended weight and height recommended by the car seat manufacturer before they are prepared for a forward-facing seat.

By keeping children secured in rear-faced seats, you are reducing the risk of injuries during a car crash.

This type of seat better protects the child's neck, back, and shoulders.

When children ride in the forward-faced seats while not adequate for them, the likelihood of spine and hear injuries is high.

You should also know that many car seat manufacturers have developed appropriate seats for children weighing 40 to 50 pounds.

So, there is nothing shameful in keeping them rear-faced for a while longer.

3. Forward-faced Law

new mexico child car seat laws

The child is ready to use the forward-face car seat when they surpass the rear-faced seats' criteria.

After they are one year old and reach the recommended height and weight, it is safe to secure them in a forward-faced seat.

They can keep riding in this type of seat until they are five years old and reach the appropriate height and weight for the next seat.

Sometimes, the limit for using forward seats is 40 pounds, but it can be up to 60 pounds with some manufacturers.

4. Booster Seat

New Mexico law states that children of ages from 5 to 7 who have reached 60 pounds should ride in a booster seat.

However, even though the law in this state declares the age of seven as the top line for rides in booster seats, we have to mention the following.

The experts recommend that you keep on using booster seats as a restraint system, for as long as the child cannot fit properly in the regular car seat.

In some states, the requirement is to secure the children in booster seats until they turn thirteen.

We are referencing back to the American Academy of Pediatrics, who advises the children to remain in booster seats until they reach seat belts' criteria. 

According to their standards, children should be 4’’9' tall and between 8 and 12 years old. All children under thirteen years old should ride in the back seat with an adequate restraint system. (AAP)

Tips for Booster Seats

If you are purchasing a booster seat for the first time, you should know that there are 2 types:

1. Backless Booster Seats are appropriate for the vehicles that have proper headrest support.

By putting the child in a backless booster while your car does not have a headrest, you are exposing them to great danger.

The child's head, neck, and spine need to be protected at all times during transportation.

2. Boosters with a Headrest are for those whose car does not have a proper headrest.

You will also need to know that booster seats should always have a shoulder belt and a lap belt.

When you secure the child, make sure that the shoulder belt goes over the chest area and not underarm, while the lap belt goes over the lap.

If the lap belt is across the soft abdomen tissue, it can cause internal organ damage during a car crash.

As many people treat this instruction as irrelevant, we had to put it out there and accent the real importance.

If, in any case, the child does not fit properly in a booster seat, it's not the time for one yet.

When Is the Right Time for Front Seat Rides?

As no law in New Mexico states the age limit for front seat rides, we have to follow the expert's advice.

It is recommended a child remains in the back seat at least until they are 13 years old.

Once they switch to a front-seat ride, make sure to use seat belts as this is going to be the only restraint system for now on.

Can You Leave Children Alone in the Car?

We found that no law in New Mexico states the law of unattended children in the vehicle.

However, know that negligence can cause harm to children and quickly develops into a crime.

Smoking in the Vehicle With Children

new mexico rear facing car seat laws

New Mexico does not have a specific law regarding smoking in vehicles with children present.

However, in 2019, New Mexico took a positive step forward by establishing a smoke-free law in most objects such as workplaces, bars, and restaurants.

It's only a matter of time when smoking in a car with children present will be pronounced as illegal.

Numerous studies link secondhand smoke exposure to child illness, such as SIDS, respiratory infections, ear infections, and asthma attacks.

Even though there is no law to ban smoking in New Mexico cars, we advise you not to expose children to toxic chemicals.

Taxi Car Seat Law

There is no law in New Mexico requiring taxis to follow car seat laws.

You should, however, always bring one if you are planning a cab or an Uber ride.

Where can you get car seat help?

Here are a few helpful resources that offer car seat inspection:

Safe Kids New Mexico Centers

Car Seat Installation

Find a CPS Technician

Child Passenger Safety

Final Words

We have covered all the car seat laws in New Mexico. All that is left is to wish you a safe trip to New Mexico.

We invite you to follow these laws and protect the youngest ones throughout the ride.

Avatar of Kathy Warner

Kathy Warner

Kathy is a busy mother of two and a CPS technician for more than eight years. Her mission is to awaken parents to the importance of child passenger safety and show them the right practice. You can read more about her here

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