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What Are New Mexico Traffic Court Records?

New Mexico traffic court records are the legal documents and case files created from the proceedings of the traffic courts in New Mexico. They include pre-trial documents such as traffic tickets and cover moving and non-moving violations. New Mexico makes most of its traffic court records available to the public.

Which Courts In New Mexico Have Jurisdiction To Hear Traffic Violation Matters?

New Mexico traffic violations and infractions are handled by Magistrate courts, Metropolitan courts, and Municipal courts. The court with jurisdiction varies from one county/city/town to another and depends on the location of the incident regarded as a traffic violation.

Getting a Traffic Ticket in New Mexico

A New Mexico traffic ticket, also known as a Uniform Traffic Citation ticket, is a long-form ticket issued for traffic violations. It represents a sworn statement from the ticketing officer describing a traffic-related infraction, misdemeanor, or felony observed. A New Mexico traffic ticket identifies the offender and records their driving and vehicle licenses. The ticket also lists the cited offense(s) as well as when and where the ticket was issued.

A New Mexico traffic ticket includes a fine amount, a court address where the ticketed motorist may appear, and a court due date. Court appearance is mandatory for some traffic offenses. Failure to pay an uncontested ticket or appear in court may lead to extra consequences such as surcharges, arrest, and revocation of driving and/or vehicle license. The motorist given a ticket should sign the document to acknowledge receipt. This is not an admission of guilt. New Mexico traffic laws empower law enforcement officials to arrest individuals who refuse to sign traffic tickets awarded to them.

Traffic tickets in New Mexico attract fines determined by existing laws and statutes based on the severity of violations. Traffic cases proceeding to trial may attract additional punishments, including court fees and jail time. A traffic ticket may also add points to the offender’s driving record, leading to license suspension/revocation. Court fees depend on court types and case progression. Usually, ticketed motorists who waive their right to contest tickets pay less to those who contest them in court and are found guilty. Furthermore, while New Mexico's Magistrate and Metropolitan courts charge variable fees for traffic violations, its Municipal courts charge a flat fee.

Moving Violations vs. Non-Moving Violations

Moving violations are traffic law violations caused by moving vehicles. Non-moving violations usually involve stationary vehicles and faulty vehicle equipment offenses. Non-moving violations include parking and vehicle registration violations. However, in New Mexico, non-moving violations can occur in moving vehicles. Driving without a seat belt and inattentive driving infractions such as operating a vehicle while talking on a phone are examples of non-moving violations in moving vehicles. In New Mexico, most non-moving violations are not reported to the Motor Vehicle Department and do not affect offenders’ driving records.

What to Do When You Get a Traffic Ticket in New Mexico?

Upon receiving a traffic ticket in New Mexico, the ticketed motorist can either plead guilty and pay the fine attached to the ticket or contest the ticket in court by pleading not guilty.

Pleading guilty to a New Mexico state traffic violation indicates an acceptance of the charges listed on the ticket and responsibility for penalties, including fines, fees, and surcharges. The offender also forgoes the right to contest the ticket in court.

New Mexico allows ticketed individuals to submit their pleas in person, online, and by mail. For those mandated to appear in court, it is necessary to come to the court to submit their pleas. When pleading guilty, the offender may request a mitigation hearing (to be held on a different date) to apply for a reduction in the fines and points. Some judges may allow first-time offenders to take New Mexico Defensive Driving Course classes in order to dismiss their tickets and points.

Contesting a Traffic Ticket in New Mexico

After pleading not guilty to a traffic violation, the judge or court clerk will set a trial date for the ensuing traffic case. 

What to Expect in a New Mexico Traffic Court

While New Mexico does not require defendants to hire attorneys when contesting traffic tickets in its courts, professional help may be required to navigate the state’s traffic laws. With the help of an attorney, a ticket is more likely to be dismissed. An attorney can also help the defendant get a reduced penalty even if found guilty.

The judge may dismiss the tickets of those found not guilty. Dismissed traffic violations also do not add points to defendants’ driving records.

How Do I Find New Mexico Traffic Court Records?

New Mexico provides online access to most of its court records. To find traffic court records, visit the New Mexico Case Lookup portal and search by name, driver license number, or case number. With this tool, the public can also find DWI (driving while intoxicated) records of cases tried in New Mexico’s traffic and/or criminal courts.

Paper copies of traffic court records are available at the courthouses where those cases were tried. In New Mexico, court clerks are custodians of court records. To view or obtain paper traffic court records, visit the court clerk’s office where the case was filed and the records were created. The applicant may be able to look through the records free of charge if they do not request a copy. Copying of court records attracts fees.

Any person interested in obtaining traffic court records should provide necessary information such as the first and last name of the person whose traffic court records are requested. Depending on the type of record required, whether an abbreviated or a complete abstract, the interested person may be required to provide valid identification for verification of their identity. Payment of applicable court fees is also a prerequisite for obtaining court records in New Mexico.

Additionally, publicly available records are accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching a specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties may be required to provide:

  • The name of someone involved, providing it is not a juvenile
  • The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name

Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.

Can New Mexico Traffic Records Be Sealed Or Expunged?

According to the New Mexico Criminal Record Expungement Act (CREA), a person convicted of a municipal ordinance, misdemeanor or felony, following the completion of their sentence may petition the court in which the person was convicted for an order to expunge arrest records and public records related to that conviction. For traffic violations, there is a conviction-free eligibility waiting period of 2 years, after which the petition can be made and the hearing scheduled. The court shall issue an order within 30 days of the hearing requiring records of the arrest and other public records to be expunged if it finds that no other changes are pending against the petition, that victim restitution has been paid, and that “justice will be served by an order to expunge.”

How to Prepare for Traffic Court in New Mexico

In New Mexico, preparing for traffic court requires a comprehensive understanding of the state's traffic laws and regulations, including rules governing speeding, DUI, and other traffic offenses. New Mexico offers a defensive driving course option for traffic offenders to dismiss citations or reduce penalties. Additionally, in some New Mexico counties, traffic court proceedings may involve the opportunity for diversion programs or settlement conferences to resolve cases outside of trial.

New Mexico Traffic Court Records
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