2021 New Mexico Statutes
Chapter 66 - Motor Vehicles
Article 5 - Licensing of Operators and Chauffeurs; Financial Responsibility; Uninsured Motorists' Insurance; Identification Cards
Section 66-5-16 - License to be carried and exhibited on demand.

Universal Citation: NM Stat § 66-5-16 (2021)

Every licensee shall have the licensee's driver's license in the licensee's immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle and shall display the license upon demand of a magistrate, a peace officer or a field deputy or inspector of the division. A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a penalty assessment misdemeanor; however, a person charged with violating this section shall not be convicted if the person produces in court a driver's license issued to the person and valid at the time of the person's citation.

History: 1953 Comp., § 64-5-16, enacted by Laws 1978, ch. 35, § 238; 1985, ch. 186, § 1; 2018, ch. 74, § 35.


Cross references. — For requirement that evidence of vehicle registration be exhibited on demand, see 66-3-13 NMSA 1978.

The 2018 amendment, effective July 1, 2018, provided a penalty for a violation of the provisions of this section, and made technical changes; and added "A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilt of a penalty assessment misdemeanor;".

Constitutionality. — Under Sections 66-2-12A(3), 66-3-13, 66-5-16 NMSA 1978, a law enforcement officer is permitted to ask for a driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance once an officer stops an automobile for safety reasons. Those statutes are consistent with the constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures afforded by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and N.M. Const., art. II, § 10. State v. Reynolds, 1995-NMSC-008, 119 N.M. 383, 890 P.2d 1315.

Section does not authorize random detention based on hunches. — Sections 64-3-11 and 64-13-49, 1953 Comp. (similar to 66-3-13 NMSA 1978 and this section respectively), grant the police the unquestioned good faith right to detain motor vehicles for the purpose specified, but when the detention becomes an excuse for some other purpose which would not be lawful, the actions then become unreasonable. The statutes do not nor cannot authorize a random selection of motorists based on a "hunch" or a "guesstimate" that some law has been broken, as such would violate minimum federal constitutional standards. State v. Ruud, 1977-NMCA-072, 90 N.M. 647, 567 P.2d 496.

Random and routine check not unconstitutional. — There is no violation of constitutional standards where a state police officer in New Mexico stops the driver of a motor vehicle for the purpose of making a routine check of driver's license and vehicle registration on a random, or arbitrary basis, i.e., the officer having no reasonable suspicion that any law had been broken. United States v. Jenkins, 528 F.2d 713 (10th Cir. 1975), overruled by State v. Ruud, 90 N.M. 647, 567 P.2d 496 (Ct. App. 1977).

What constitutes a search. — Individuals have no legitimate subjective expectation of privacy in their license, registration, or insurance documents when they are operating a motor vehicle. Consequently, it is not a "search" to request those documents. State v. Reynolds, 1995-NMSC-008, 119 N.M. 383, 890 P.2d 1315.

Demanding proof of registration and display of license lawful. — Demanding proof of registration of the vehicle and the displayment of the driver's license were a lawful and necessary carrying out of the New Mexico statutes regulating motor vehicles and were not violative of minimum federal constitutional standards. United States v. Lepinski, 460 F.2d 234 (10th Cir. 1972), overruled by State v. Ruud, 1977-NMCA-072, 90 N.M. 647, 567 P.2d 496.

In conducting general license and registration checks under Sections 64-3-11 and 64-13-49, 1953 Comp. (similar to Section 66-3-13 NMSA 1978 and this section respectively), the actions of the police must be in conformity with the constitutional requirements of the U.S. Const., amend. 4; and when the detention permitted by the statute becomes a mere subterfuge or excuse for some other purpose which would not be lawful the actions then become unreasonable and fail to meet the constitutional requirement. State v. Bloom, 1976-NMCA-035, 90 N.M. 226, 561 P.2d 925, rev'd, 1977-NMSC-016, 90 N.M. 192, 561 P.2d 465.

Person is not permitted to operate motor vehicle on basis of documents in his or her possession which could, upon performance of a ministerial function by a government official, lead to the issuance of a license. 1980 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 80-21.

Am. Jur. 2d, A.L.R. and C.J.S. references. — 7A Am. Jur. 2d Automobiles and Highway Traffic §§ 101, 147.

Validity and construction of statute making it a criminal offense for the operator of a motor vehicle not to carry or display his operator's license or the vehicle registration certificate, 6 A.L.R.3d 506.

60 C.J.S. Motor Vehicles § 157; 61A C.J.S. Motor Vehicles § 651.

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