Understanding New Mexico's distracted driving laws

You may have heard of the texting ban that New Mexico's legislature passed a few years ago in an attempt to curb distracted driving. However, the term "texting ban" is a bit misleading, as the law actually prohibits more than just texting.

In today's post, we examine the full of extent of New Mexico's distracted driving legislation and how it may relate to your case in the event of a car accident.

What the law prohibits

The law makes it illegal to:

  • View a text-based message on a mobile device while driving;
  • Type on a mobile device while driving--including text messaging, emailing or entering information into a website; or
  • Talk on the phone while driving without using hands-free technology.

One common misconception is that such bans don't apply when your vehicle is stopped. However, it's important to understand that under this law "driving" includes being temporarily stopped at a traffic light or stop sign. This means you can get pulled over for sending a quick text to your friend while sitting at a red light.

Penalties

If you violate the texting ban, you can face a $25 fine for your first offense--and a $50 fine for all subsequent offenses.

Exceptions

The above law has some exceptions:

  • A driver may call or send messages using hands-free technology while driving. Tapping the screen to activate or deactivate such functions is currently permissible.
  • A driver may send or read electronic communications while pulled over at the side of the road.
  • It's permitted to use one's hands to operate GPS or any device that is a part of your vehicle while driving.
  • It's permitted to operate a mobile device for the purpose of contacting emergency services.

Distracted driving accidents

If you suffer an injury due to a distracted driver's carelessness, you have the right to seek compensation. But what happens when both parties bear some responsibility in the accident? Let's examine a different scenario:

If a drunk driver speeds through a red light and collides with you, it may seem that the other driver should naturally be held responsible for your injuries. However, if you were also texting at the time of the accident, then you could be found to be partially at fault for the accident. In such cases, the court will allocate a percentage of fault to you--and this percentage will be deducted from your total compensation package.

Therefore, it's important to have an experienced car accident attorney on your side--someone who can effectively advocate on your behalf and help you obtain the maximum available compensation.

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