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Texting and Driving Law in New Mexico: What You Need to Know

Texting and Driving Law in New Mexico: What You Need to Know

As the 21st Century moves forward, things that were once considered fantastic have become common, and so have their consequences. Texting has become a natural, daily part of communication, and distracted driving has become a serious issue as a result. Not long ago, texting and driving weren’t even considered in traffic law. Now, every state addresses the issue. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 660,000 drivers text while operating a vehicle, and there are approximately 390,000 injuries every year from texting and driving.

Using a Cellphone While Driving Is Illegal

New Mexico is strict about cellphone use while driving. Unless the device is hands-free, you cannot use it at all. This includes holding the phone up to your head while driving. Also, you cannot use your device while operating the vehicle in any way. This means that you cannot text in a parking lot while the car is running.

In 2014, the state banned texting and driving outright. The law defines texting as:

  • Email
  • Instant messages
  • Sending a text or an image, including emojis
  • “A command or request to an internet site,” which covers surfing the internet while driving

Exceptions are made for emergency calls. If there is an emergency, you may call 911, but you must pull over before doing so.

Traffic offenses are categorized as either primary or secondary violations. For a primary violation, such as speeding, the police may pull you over. Secondary offenses can be cited when you are already pulled over for another reason. In New Mexico, cellphone use is a primary traffic violation.

The penalty for cellphone use is a fine of $25. For every new offense, the fine is raised to $50. Safe driving advocacy groups are challenging these penalties, as they believe the fines are too soft. Other states charge texting and driving as a minor misdemeanor. For now, your best option for receiving justice when you’ve been hurt by a distracted driver is a civil lawsuit.

Vehicular Homicide

The standards for vehicular homicide – or vehicular manslaughter – are narrow in New Mexico. They specifically cover speeding, drunk driving, and reckless driving. Someone who killed or injured another person while texting and driving could, theoretically, be charged with reckless driving. Their defense, however, might be that they were technically guilty of “distracted driving,” and they could avoid criminal charges.

If you’ve been hurt by a distracted driver, your only option for justice may be a civil lawsuit. Medical bills may be piling up, and you may be missing work while you recover. A civil suit can provide financial compensation, paying you back for your troubles.

Seeking Justice for a Texting and Driving Injury

New Mexico does not approach texting and driving with severity. While the driver who hurt you may walk away free, you could be left paying medical bills, missing work, and making regular trips to the doctor.

This is where a civil suit can serve you greatly. Criminal court is designed to punish those who have broken society’s laws. Civil court is there to help you recover financial compensation for someone’s negligence.

In any car accident, you can sue whether or not the case involves breaking the law. You can seek “compensatory damages” designed to pay you back for your trouble. Also, you can ask that you be compensated for your hospital bills, missed work time, and even for “potential future earnings.” If your injuries harm your ability to get work or be promoted, those are “potential earnings” that you’re missing.

Attorneys can also use a complicated mathematical system to seek compensation for your pain and suffering. With a process, they call the “multiplier,” lawyers look at the number of days you were in pain and multiply them by a dollar amount. This total becomes the final pain and suffering damages you can seek.

If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver, you need legal representation. Criminal justice may not be able to help. Call us today at (505) 219-2176, or reach out online. We can give you a free consultation and discuss your options.


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