New Mexico has approved a ban on text messaging while driving, with the Legislature’s plan signed by a receptive governor March 2. The texting law’s effective date is July 1.
(post updated March 2)
The law makes New Mexico the 42nd state to outlaw text messaging by all drivers. The state already has a ban on use of communications devices by driving students under age 18. It has no other cell phone laws.
Fines will be $25 (first offense), then $50. Enforcement is primary, allowing police to stop and cite violators for that reason alone.
“There is no text message that is worth a person’s life,” Gov. Susana Martinez said upon signing the act. She said texting while behind the wheel is the leading cause of death for New Mexico’s teen drivers.
The sponsor was state Sen. Peter Wirth, who filed a similar plan in 2013. The bill also targets “image communication” and web site use by drivers. It permits use of GPS and in-dash interactive systems. It bars police police from seizing cell phones to see if a texting violation occurred.
“One more stop,” Wirth said in a Tweet after passage.
Gov. Martinez’s office has said the lack of a texting law costs the state millions in highway funding.
Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez has been a longtime opponent of distracted driving legislation, and was one of the few to vote against the Wirth measure.
Read more about distracted driving laws in New Mexico.