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What Are Traffic Violations And Infractions In New Mexico?

New Mexico traffic violations may be criminal or non-criminal. Typically, these are known as violations and infractions, respectively. Criminal traffic violations may be punished by imprisonment, apart from fines, suspensions, forfeiture, and other penalties. Non-criminal violations are not penalized with imprisonment; typically, non-criminal violations result in fines issued through traffic tickets, a suspension of the driver’s license, and other penalties designated by state or local statutes.

Depending on the severity of the offense, the offender’s criminal record, and the presence of aggravating or mitigating factors, criminal traffic violations may be grouped into felonies and misdemeanors. In New Mexico, Municipal Courts handle violations of traffic laws.

What Are Felony Traffic Violations In New Mexico?

In New Mexico, felonies are considered the most serious offenses. Felonies attract harsh penalties such as longer terms of imprisonment, heavier fines, and other consequences such as civil rights loss. Felony crimes are punishable by no less than one year in state prison. New Mexico felonies are classified into:

  • Capital felonies: this is the most serious class of felonies. Offenses in this class are punishable by life imprisonment or life imprisonment without parole.
  • First-degree felonies: most first-degree felonies are punishable by imprisonment terms of up 18 years, fines of up to $15,000, or both imprisonment and fines. Exceptions to this provision include first-degree felonies resulting in a child’s death, which may be punished by life imprisonment and fines of up to $17,500.
  • Second-degree felonies: these offenses are punishable by up to nine years in state prison, fines of up to $10,000, or both imprisonment and fines. Some second-degree felonies may be punished by 12–15 years in prison and fines of up to $12,500.
  • Third-degree felonies: offenses in this category typically result in imprisonment for up to three (3) years and fines of up to $5,000. However, some third-degree felonies may be punished by imprisonment for six (6) to 11 years.
  • Fourth-degree felonies: offenses in this category typically result in up to 18 months of imprisonment and fines of up to $5,000. However, some fourth-degree felonies may be punished by up to ten (10) years in state prison.

Felony traffic infractions typically involve risk of harm and bodily injury, or actual harm and bodily injury to other persons. Additionally, repeated offenses may be classified as felonies. For example, a first-offense may be a misdemeanor, while a third or subsequent offenses may count as felonies.

Examples Of Felony Traffic Violations In New Mexico

  • Vehicular homicide
  • DWI (fourth and subsequent offenses)
  • Great bodily harm by vehicle
  • Leaving the scene of a DWI that involves injury or death

What Are Traffic Misdemeanors In New Mexico?

Misdemeanors are offenses punishable by no more than one year in county jail. Although misdemeanors are punishable by imprisonment and fines, misdemeanors are less serious than felony crimes and result in less severe penalties. Many traffic violations in New Mexico are designated by law as misdemeanors, which means that apart from fines and other penalties, convictions may also result in imprisonment. Misdemeanors are more serious offenses than traffic infractions, which are typically non-criminal and not punished by imprisonment. In New Mexico, misdemeanors are classified into petty misdemeanors and misdemeanors. While petty misdemeanors are less serious than misdemeanors, but classes may be penalized with fines or imprisonment.

Examples Of Traffic Misdemeanors In New Mexico

  • Careless Driving
  • Reckless Driving
  • Driving While License Is Suspended
  • Driving Without Car Insurance
  • Evading Or Resisting A Police Officer
  • Open Container
  • Littering

What Constitutes A Traffic Infraction In New Mexico?

Traffic infractions are violations that are less serious than petty misdemeanors. These offenses may be violations of municipal ordinances or minor traffic offenses. Infractions are non-criminal, typically only punished by fines, suspensions, and other penalties apart from imprisonment. Traffic infractions are the least serious offenses in New Mexico.

Examples Of Traffic Infractions In New Mexico

  • Distracted driving
  • Running a red light
  • Driving without a seatbelt
  • Improper parking
  • Littering
  • Failure to use a turn signal
  • Leaving a running vehicle unattended

How Do Traffic Tickets Work In New Mexico

In New Mexico, traffic citations or tickets are issued for violations of traffic laws. Ticket recipients may respond in two ways: paying or contesting the ticket. Depending on the available payment methods in each court, recipients may pay traffic tickets in person at the courthouse, by mail, or over the phone. Tickets for which a court appearance is required may not be paid by mail or phone. If recipients choose to pay the ticket, such persons will be deemed guilty of the traffic violation and may be penalized. However, if a ticket recipient can prove that the ticket was issued incorrectly, such a person may contest the traffic ticket by requesting a court hearing.

The name and address of the court where the ticket is filed are typically on the ticket. Traffic tickets also contain information on the traffic offense the recipient is charged with and the corresponding fine.

When traffic tickets are issued for certain moving traffic violations, points are added to the recipient’s driving record. Points are rated from two (2) to eight (8) and are assessed according to the severity of the traffic violation. Drivers who accumulate up to six (6) points will receive warnings about a possible license suspension. Drivers who accumulate seven (7) to ten (10) points may get a three-month license suspension. An accumulation of 12 points may lead to a 12-month suspension of the driver’s license.

Are Traffic/Driving Records Public In New Mexico?

The New Mexico Vehicle Code and federal the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act restrict access to personal information on driving records. Information such as names, phone numbers, social security numbers, addresses, city, state, dates of birth, weight, height, signature, and photographs may only be accessed by:

  • Persons named on the record
  • Authorized representatives of persons named on the record
  • Individuals with the written consent of persons named on the record

How To Find Traffic/Driving Records In New Mexico?

The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Divison (MVD) maintains driving records in the state. Driving records contain three-year driving histories. This includes the personal identifying details of persons named on the record, license status, accidents, and traffic offenses. Interested parties may request driving records online through the MVD’s Online Driver History Records System. Requesting parties will be required to provide:

  • Date of birth
  • Social security number
  • Driver’s license number
  • A credit card (for payment)

Certified driving records cost $9.99, while non-certified driver records cost $6.63. A certified record is an official document that is usable in legal matters. The MVD provides a letter of certification with certified New Mexico driving records. Non-certified driving records may only be used for unofficial purposes.

Interested parties may also request driving records in person at local MVD Service providers. Requesting parties must submit a Confidential Records Release form. Third-party requestors may be required to submit New Mexico Driver’s Privacy Protection Agreement forms in addition. Completed forms may also be mailed, together with required fees, to:

New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division

Joseph Montoya Building

P. O. Box 1028

1100 South St. Francis Drive

Santa Fe 87504–1028

Can Traffic Violation And Infractions Be Expunged/Sealed In State?

When a record is expunged in New Mexico, it is protected from public access and may only be inspected or copied by authorized persons. Expungement in New Mexico is a sealing, not a permanent removal of the record. Typically, expungement is only available for criminal history records. As such, traffic infractions may not be eligible for expungement. Some criminal traffic violations may be eligible for expungement in New Mexico. However, offenses or violations that involve bodily harm or death, and DWI offenses are not eligible.

Persons with records of eligible offenses may only file for expungement two (2) years after sentencing requirements have been fulfilled. Such persons may file a motion for expungement with the court that has jurisdiction over the case.

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