Statewide Texting and Driving Ban for New Mexico Begins July First

Statewide Texting and Driving Ban for New Mexico Begins July First

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

NEW MEXICO - If you drive through New Mexico, think twice about picking up that cell phone. A new state law against texting and driving is about to go into effect.

"I've seen people texting and swerving off the road," Crystal Luna said.

That's the scenario New Mexico state lawmakers hope to crack down on.

Starting July first, a statewide ban on texting and driving will go into effect.

"Checking email, playing on the Internet, sending a text, looking at a text. Anytime you're taking your attention away from the roadway, looking down on the phone," Deputy Chief Brian Dunlap with the Hobbs Police Department, said.

There are some exceptions to the law such as if you're trying to get medical or emergency help. Drivers can still use the GPS function on their phones as long as their eyes don't leave the road.

It's not uncommon to see people texting or looking stuff up on their phones at stop lights but with this new law, police said it doesn't matter if the light is red. As long as you're on the road, you can't do it.

A first offense is $25 and $50 for any more after that.

"You know I wouldn't much worry about the money part as I would causing a crash and injuring somebody or injuring yourself," Dunlap said. "We'll take enforcement action as necessary, as we deem appropriate, but we would like for you to take it upon yourself to not do it."

Drivers NewsWest 9 spoke with said the law is much needed.

"I think it's gonna help out with all these accidents," Luna said. "I have three (children) of my own. They can be speeding and texting and they can hit and I could lose a child."

"Texting is just not safe, especially on these oilfield highways," Nyle Anderson said. "Too many distractions."

Drivers are still allowed to talk on their phones.

"I think it's probably ok if they have a hands-free device," Anderson said. "They still need to be careful."

"I think a lot of people are cautious when they're talking on the phone and driving but as in texting, that's a whole different story because you're not really paying attention to what you're doing," Luna said.