Motorcycle laws vary from state to state, and while experienced New Mexican riders often believe they're in compliance, not being informed of New Mexico's motorcycle laws can lead to traffic tickets, a suspended license, accidents and/or serious injury.
It's important to remember the laws and regulations listed below can change frequently and without warning. To make sure you have the most recent motorcycle laws, please be sure to check with New Mexico's Motor Vehicle Department as well.
Do You Know the Motorcycle Laws and Regulations in New Mexico?
- Motorcycle Helmet
Under New Mexico law, riders and passengers under 18 must wear a helmet. Reflectorization is also required. For the highest level of protection, make sure the helmet meets U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) standards. Failure to use a helmet may result in a fine.
- State Funded Rider Education
Available for all eligible applicants-required under age 18. New Mexico's "motorcycle training fund" helps provide motorcycle training and driver awareness and education in the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs for first-time license applicants and to provide for the purchase of necessary equipment.
- Eye Protection
From section 66-7-355 of New Mexico House Bill 65: “Any person operating a motorcycle not having a fixed windshield of a type approved by regulation of the secretary shall wear an eye protective device which may be a face shield attached to a safety helmet, goggles or safety eyeglasses. All eye protective devices shall be of a type approved by regulations promulgated by the director.”
- Daytime Use of Headlight
The law requires that all motorcycles be equipped with at least one headlamp, but not more than two. Headlamps must be between 20 inches and 54 inches in height.
- Passenger Seat
Required if carrying a passenger. New Mexico regulations require that a motorcycle shall not carry a passenger unless it is designed to carry more than one person and must ride upon the permanent and regular seat if designed for two persons or upon another seat firmly attached to the rear or side of the motorcycle.
- Passenger Footrest
Required if carrying a passenger. "The passenger shall have his feet upon the footrests attached for passenger use."
- Passenger Age Restriction
None. But remember that helmets and regular, fixed seats are required for all occupants of a motorcycle.
- Helmet Speakers
No Restrictions. Many helmets are now purpose-built for hands-free communication devices, which enhance safety on the roadway.
- Periodic Safety Inspection
Required by law—random. Motorcyclists must be prepared at all times for their vehicles to pass inspection.
- Mirror Left(L) & Right(R)
New Mexico's statute on mirrors requires that every motor vehicle, including motorcycles, be equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect a rear view of the roadway for at least 200 feet.
- Radar Detector
No Restriction. Some states ban the use of radar detectors in all vehicles, while others restrict them only in commercial vehicles. New Mexico, however, allows the use of radar detectors in all vehicles.
- Turn Signals
Required by law. Many states allow riders to get by with only hand signals, but make sure your blinkers are working in New Mexico.
- Muffler No specific acoustical criteria, but law does require that every motor vehicle be equipped with a muffler that prevents "excessive or unusual" noise."
- Maximum Sound Level
No acoustical criteria. But many municipalities, including Albuquerque, have their own noise-control ordinances, which pertain to motorcycles. Specifically, motorcycles in Albuquerque are not to exceed 82 dB when traveling 40 mph or less, or 86 dB when traveling over 40 mph.
- State Insurance Requirements
Motorcyclists in New Mexico must show financial responsibility. While a few riders might choose to leave $60,000 or a surety bond with the state treasurer's office, most will instead choose to purchase liability motorcycle insurance. Insurance protects the assets of the rider in case of an accident and also protects other travelers. State minimum policies must carry $25,000 in coverage for bodily injury or death to one person, $50,000 in coverage for bodily injury or death of two or more people, and $10,000 in coverage for property damage.
- Handlebar Height
No Restrictions. Just make sure you can always operate safely.
- Rider-Education Waiver
New Mexico waives its motorcycle skills test for riders who complete an approved basic safety course. Lasting two to six weeks, these courses allow students to operate away from street traffic and also spend time in the classroom learning the rules of the road. Once the course is completed, the rider will be eligible for his motorcycle driver's license.
- Accept Motorcycle Endorsement From Other States?
Yes. Motorcyclists nationwide are encouraged to ride the Land of Enchantment.
- Motorcycles operating two abreast in same lane
Not referenced in Administrative Code or Statutes. This practice is generally accepted when both riders consent.
- Lane Splitting
Not permitted. In New Mexico, as in most places, lane splitting is illegal—the one notable exception being California. Several state bills calling for the legalization of lane splitting have been introduced over the past 20 years, but none have become law.
While these laws are strictly enforced by local authorities throughout New Mexico, it still may be possible to receive compensation for injuries you suffered in a motorcycle accident, even if you were found to be in violation of any of the above laws and/or regulations.
The motorcycle accident attorneys in our Albuquerque office offer all victims and their families a Zero Fee Guarantee. This means that there is never a charge for a case analysis and the only way Keller & Keller is paid for its legal services is if a recovery is made on your behalf.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident and want to learn more about a potential claim, or wish to discuss any laws or regulations as it relates to motorcycle safety, please contact us at 1-800-253-5537, or write to us by using our free contact form.