New Mexico’s Mandatory Responsibility Act (a/k/a “MFRA”) requires every driver in New Mexico to be financially responsible for their vehicle while driving on New Mexico’s roads. This means a driver must have a minimum liability coverage of $25,000 (per person, bodily injury), $50,000 per accident (bodily injury) and $10,000 per accident (property damage) when driving on New Mexico roads or have a $60,000 bond or deposit. NMSA 1978, § 66-5-208.
If you drive without insurance or a bond/deposit, then you can be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to $300 in fines or 90 days in jail or both for the first offense. NMSA 1978, § 66-8-7. But if you are involved in an accident and you do not have insurance, then the penalties dramatically increase. If you are in an accident without insurance, then law enforcement must immediately remove your license plates and issue a temporary 30 date plate in addition to the citation. NMSA 1978, § 66-5-205.1. Your license plate will only be returned if you provide proof of insurance.
An online monitoring system enforces the MFRA by keeping track of insurance records for New Mexico. Your car will be denied registration if you are not in the system with an insurance record on file. The Motor Vehicle Division reaches out to insurances companies to verify the information they have on file. Registered vehicles are verified by their VIN number. If you are identified as uninsured, the MVD is required to send you a notice of non-compliance. If your insurance is cancelled, for example, for non-payment, your insurance company will contact the Department of Motor Vehicles and if proof of insurance is not provided, then your vehicle registration will be denied.
In New Mexico, it is illegal to drive without a license. NMSA 1978, § 66-5-2. If you are not in possession of your license when driving on New Mexico roads, you can be charged with a misdemeanor and face fines and jail time. If you produce your license in court as proof that you do have a license, you cannot be convicted of driving without a license.
Driving on a suspended or revoked license dramatically increases fines and jail time. Driving with a suspended license is a misdemeanor and carries up to a $1,000 fine and up to 364 days in jail. NMSA 1978, § 66-5-39. On October 1, 2019, the law is updated and the maximum fine for driving on a suspended license will be limited to 90 days in jail or a $300 fine. Driving with a revoked license carries the same punishment as a suspended license (up to a $1,000 fine and up to 364 days in jail), but you can expect your license to be revoked for an additional year and the vehicle driven can be immobilized for 30 days NMSA 1978, § 66-5-39.1.