The New Mexico Mandatory Financial Responsibility Act requires all drivers in the state to have minimum liability car insurance or an alternate form of financial responsibility, such as a bond. Driving without either is a misdemeanor in New Mexico and can result in the suspension of your vehicle registration.
The penalty for driving without insurance is a fine of up to $300, up to 90 days of jail time or a combination. If you don't return your license plates and vehicle registration to the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) right after the suspension, that fine can increase to $1,000. Alternatively, the court may penalize you with jail time of up to six months, or a combination of fines and imprisonment.
Fines and penalties for driving without insurance in New Mexico
Type of penalty
Driving without insurance
Failure to surrender license plates and registration
|No more than $300||No more than $1,000|
|Up to 90 days (instead of or in conjunction with a fine)||Up to six months (instead of or in conjunction with a fine)|
|Registration suspension or license plate confiscation at the scene of an accident||Registration suspension|
When you can't show proof of insurance in New Mexico
Liability car insurance coverage is required to drive your car in the Land of Enchantment. You will need to maintain the minimum 25/50/10 insurance amounts and carry proof with you when driving. You are required to show proof of insurance at registration, during traffic stops and after car accidents. Failure to present proof in the form of a current insurance ID card or policy binder will mean fines and suspension.
Proof of insurance upon vehicle registration or on the road
In New Mexico you cannot register your car unless you provide the MVD with proof of car insurance that meets the state's minimum required coverage, and you are expected to carry a copy of it whenever you drive. Without proof, law enforcement can assume that you do not have insurance at all and issue a citation.
Driving without insurance is a misdemeanor punishable by both registration suspension and a fine of up to $300. There is also a possibility of 90 days’ jail time or a combination of jail and a fine.
However, if you have valid insurance and just temporarily did not have proof, you can get the citation and registration reinstatement fee waived by providing the MVD with proof of insurance within 15 days of the citation.
Proof of insurance after an accident
Like most states, New Mexico's traffic enforcers are authorized to request proof of insurance at the scene of an accident. Whether you're at fault for the accident or not, as soon as the police officer finds you are uninsured, they will immediately confiscate your license plates. You'll be issued a temporary operation sticker that's valid for 30 days, a duplicate of which will go to the MVD.
Within these 30 days, you must have your insurance agent update your insurance status with the department. If you don't have insurance, you should contact an agent to get a policy. At the end of this period, you'll be guilty of a misdemeanor if the MVD still doesn't have a record of an insurance policy attached to your car's vehicle identification number (VIN). Penalties include registration suspension, a $300 fine, 90 days’ jail time or both a fine and jail, if the court finds it necessary.
Notice of noncompliance
New Mexico enforces its insurance law via an online monitoring system called the Insurance Identification Database (IIDB). You cannot have your car's registration renewed unless you have an active insurance policy on file. This is also why you may still receive a notice of noncompliance even if you have provided a hard copy of your proof of insurance. You must reach out to your insurer to update your insurance status on the IIDB or contact the IIDB yourself.
Every month, the MVD asks all insurance companies to verify the status of each registered vehicle by its VIN. The status is matched by VIN through the database in each local motor vehicle office.
If the system identifies your car as uninsured, it will notify the MVD to send you a notice of noncompliance. The notice gives you 30 days to get in touch with your insurance agent and update your insurance status with the database. If you do not do so within that time frame, your registration will be suspended, and you will be subject to a misdemeanor penalty as high as $300.
Surrender your license plates and registration after suspension
New Mexico drivers should also know that with the motor vehicle financial responsibility laws, it is a criminal offense to delay turning in your license plates and/or registration after a suspension for noncompliance. The penalties are up to a $1,000 fine, up to six months in jail or possibly both. As soon as you receive the official notice of suspension of registration from the MVD, you have 10 days to return your plates.
Reinstating your driving privileges
It takes a $30 reinstatement fee to get your registration back and $25 to reinstate or place your vehicle’s license plates. On top of the fees, your insurance agent will have to validate your active policy information online, and you will need to pay your misdemeanor fines before the department will reinstate your driving privileges.
Reapplying for auto insurance in New Mexico
While all registered motorists must have auto insurance in New Mexico, your driving or claims history may make it difficult to find an agency that will write you a policy. Fortunately, the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Insurance Plan can help. If agencies in the mainstream market label you a high-risk driver, this state program can help you get the legally required car insurance coverage.