2021 New Mexico Statutes
Chapter 66 - Motor Vehicles
Article 7 - Traffic Laws; Signs, Signals and Markings; Accidents; Weight and Size; Traffic Safety
Section 66-7-356 - Mandatory use of protective helmets.

Universal Citation: NM Stat § 66-7-356 (2021)

A. No person under the age of eighteen shall operate a motorcycle unless the person is wearing a safety helmet that is securely fastened on the person's head in a normal manner as headgear and that meets the standards specified by the secretary. The secretary shall adopt rules and regulations establishing standards covering the types of helmets and the specifications therefor and shall establish and maintain a list of approved helmets meeting the standards and specifications of the secretary. No dealer or person who leases or rents motorcycles shall lease or rent a motorcycle to a person under the age of eighteen unless the lessee or renter shows such person a valid driver's license or permit and possesses the safety equipment required of an operator who is under the age of eighteen. No person shall carry any passenger under the age of eighteen on any motorcycle unless the passenger is wearing a securely fastened safety helmet, as specified in this section, meeting the standards specified by the secretary.

B. Failure to wear a safety helmet as required in this section shall not constitute contributory negligence.

C. Autocycles are exempted from the helmet provisions of this section.

History: 1953 Comp., § 64-7-356, enacted by Laws 1978, ch. 35, § 460; 1981, ch. 361, § 26; 1991, ch. 192, § 6; 2015, ch. 53, § 5.


Cross references. — For the penalty for a misdemeanor, see 66-8-7 NMSA 1978.

For the penalty for a petty misdemeanor, see 31-19-1 NMSA 1978.

The 2015 amendment, effective June 19, 2015, exempted autocycles from the helmet requirements of operating a motorcycle; in Subsection A, after the first occurrence of "unless", deleted "he" and added "the person", after the first occurrence of "helmet", added "that is", after "fastened on", deleted "his" and added "the person's", after "headgear and", deleted "meeting" and added "that meets", and changed "director" to "secretary" throughout; and added Subsection C.

The 1991 amendment, effective June 14, 1991, deleted former Subsection C which read "Any person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a petty misdemeanor" and made a minor stylistic change in Subsection A.

Authority to approve safety helmets not violative of due process. — The delegation to the commissioner of motor vehicles (now director of the motor vehicle division) of the power to determine what type of helmet should be worn under an ordinance mandating the wearing of approved safety helmets by motorcycle operators did not deprive the appellee of due process nor did the fact that the state commissioner of motor vehicles adopted the standards determined by the testing of a third person make such testing unreasonable. City of Albuquerque v. Jones, 1975-NMSC-025, 87 N.M. 486, 535 P.2d 1337.

Ordinance requiring wearing of helmet appropriate exercise of police power. — A city ordinance which requires the operator of a motorcycle to wear an approved safety helmet is an appropriate exercise of the city's police power and therefore is constitutional. City of Albuquerque v. Jones, 1975-NMSC-025, 87 N.M. 486, 535 P.2d 1337.

Provision not applicable to all motorcyclists. — Section 64-18-55.1, 1953 Comp. (similar to this section), requiring the use of a safety helmet does not apply to all motorcyclists. 1970 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 70-43.

Provision valid exercise of power of parens patriae. — Requiring minors to wear helmets while riding a motorcycle would perhaps be a valid exercise of the power of parens patriae and would enable the state to protect youths whose judgment might not yet allow them to exercise their individual freedom judiciously with regard to their own safety. 1969 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 69-14.

Am. Jur. 2d, A.L.R. and C.J.S. references. — Validity of traffic regulation requiring motorcyclists to wear protective headgear, 32 A.L.R.3d 1270.

Motorcyclist's failure to wear helmet or other protective equipment as affecting recovery for personal injury or death, 85 A.L.R.4th 365.

Validity of traffic regulations requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets or other protective gear, 72 A.L.R.5th 607.

60 C.J.S. Motor Vehicles § 43.

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