New Mexico Motorcycle Laws

motorcyclist with passenger

If you have been hurt in a motorcycle accident caused by another vehicle in Albuquerque or Central New Mexico, the personal injury lawyers at Parnall Law can assist you in pursuing a claim for compensation for your injuries. Our experienced attorneys understand New Mexico motorcycle accident laws. We can review the details of your accident and discuss whether you have a viable claim against the person who caused the accident.

Attorney Bert Parnall and the legal team at Parnall Law help motorcycle accident victims in Albuquerque and surrounding areas. Parnall Law fights hard for people who have been injured in motorcycle accidents through no fault of their own to receive maximum compensation to help them recover and move forward. The Parnall Law Firm’s five core values are Team, Talent, Truth, Tenacity, and Triumph. We have been representing Albuquerque motorcyclists and their families for 20 years. We are proud to have obtained more than $60 million for our clients. We are aggressive in our pursuit of justice on behalf of our clients and are proud of what we have accomplished.


All motorists, including motorcyclists, must comply with New Mexico traffic laws and regulations. For example, every driver must obey signs and signals, yield the right-of-way at intersections, and comply with speed limits. These rules apply regardless of whether you operate a car, truck, or motorcycle.

New Mexico does have laws that apply specifically to motorcycles and motorcyclists. For instance:

New Mexico Motorcycle License Laws—Motorcyclists must have a valid driver’s license with a proper endorsement based on the engine size of the motorcycle. First-time applicants for a motorcycle license or endorsement may be required to attend a motorcycle driver training program.

Registration—Motorcycles are among the vehicles that must be registered in the State of New Mexico. Motorcyclists must show proof of insurance to register their vehicle.

Insurance—Drivers in New Mexico including motorcyclists are required to carry at least certain minimum amounts of liability insurance. The minimum liability insurance amounts are:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury to or death of one person
  • $50,000 for bodily injury to or death of two or more persons, and
  • $10,000 for property damage in any one accident.

New Mexico Helmet Law—Anyone under the age of 18 must wear a helmet when driving or riding a motorcycle, according to the New Mexico motorcycle helmet law. The helmet must meet U.S. Department of Transportation standards. Only motorcycle helmets that meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Number 218 are approved for use in New Mexico. Failure to wear a safety helmet shall not constitute contributory negligence.

Eye Protection—If the motorcycle does not have a fixed windshield, the motorcyclist has to wear protective eye gear such as a face shield attached to a helmet, goggles, or safety eyeglasses.

Footrest—Every motorcyclist must ride on the permanent and regular seat attached to the vehicle, and keep his or her feet on the footrests while riding. A motorcyclist is not allowed to transport a passenger unless the motorcycle is designed to carry two people.

Passenger Safety—Passengers can only ride on a motorcycle if the vehicle is designed to carry more than one passenger. The passenger shall ride with his or her feet on the footrests provided for the passenger.

Headlamps—Every motorcycle shall be equipped with at least one and not more than two headlamps that are mounted at a proper height. Every motorcycle shall be equipped with at least two brakes that may be operated by hand or foot.

Horn—A motorcycle must have a horn in working order to signal a warning audible from a distance of at least 200 feet.

Handlebar —Handlebars must allow the motorcyclist to operate the vehicle safely. No motorcycle shall be equipped in a manner that makes it incapable of turning a 90-degree angle within a circle having a radius of not more than 14 feet.

Off-Road —It is illegal to operate an off-road motorcycle or trail bike on any New Mexico road, highway, or limited-access interstate that is closed to such vehicles.

These laws are in place for the safety of all riders. However, many motorcycle accidents occur even if the motorcyclist has complied with state law. This is because they are often the result of negligence on the part of a car or truck driver.


New Mexico motorists have a legal responsibility to exercise reasonable care on the road. An automobile driver who engages in risky driving such as speeding or running red lights endangers others. According to New Mexico motorcycle laws, red light runners and automobile drivers turning left are the leading causes of fatal accidents that kill motorcyclists.

Many motorists are conditioned to look for larger vehicles and do not remain alert for motorcycles. Because motorcycles are smaller, drivers may underestimate how far away a motorcycle is or how fast it is traveling. You can hold a careless driver accountable and seek compensation for your injuries and other losses if you can show that the at-fault driver was negligent. This means showing that he or she:

  • Had a legal duty to exercise care;
  • Failed to exercise care by act or omission;
  • Caused your injuries; and
  • Compelled you to incur damages that can be compensated.

You may seek compensation for your injuries and other losses if you can prove that he or she was negligent.

A court may find that you are partially at fault for the accident. You can still recover damages, but only to the extent of the defendant’s negligence. New Mexico is a pure comparative fault state, which means that it allows a victim to recover damages even if he or she is mostly at fault for the injuries. If, for example, you are 90 percent at fault, and the defendant is 10 percent at fault, you can recover up to 10 percent of your damages from the defendant.

Your compensable damages for a motorcycle accident can include medical costs, lost income from missed days at work, any loss in earning capacity, and property damage. If you lost a relative in a fatal crash, you can seek damages through a New Mexico wrongful death claim.


Bert Parnall and the motor vehicle collision attorneys at Parnall Law Firm offer capable and personalized representation to Albuquerque residents in motorcycle crash cases. If you were hurt in an accident, or if you lost a loved one, we can review your case and discuss your rights. If we proceed with your claim, you can depend on our seasoned experience to help you pursue a satisfactory outcome. For a free initial consultation, call us today at 505-268-6500 or contact us online.