The Guide to Right-of-Way Laws in New Mexico

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There are not always traffic signs and signals to tell motorists and pedestrians who should be given the right of way. Accordingly, there are common-sense rules in place that define who may go first, and who has to wait in certain situations. The laws work to minimize the potential for accidents that could cause damage to motor vehicles, and injuries or even death to motorists and pedestrians.

Summary of New Mexico right-of-way laws

The right-of-way laws in New Mexico can be summarized as follows:

  • You must invariably yield to a pedestrian – even one who is violating the right-of-way laws.

  • You must always yield to pedestrians who are crossing legally.

  • If you are entering or exiting an alley, driveway or parking lot, or crossing a sidewalk, you must yield to pedestrians.

  • Regardless of any circumstances, a pedestrian who is walking with a guide dog or a white cane will always have the legal right of way.

  • If you are turning left, you must give the right of way to vehicles that are proceeding straight.

  • If you are entering a traffic circle, you must yield to drivers already within the circle.

  • At an unmarked intersection, you must give right of way to drivers approaching from the right.

  • At a four-way stop, the first driver at the intersection should be given the right of way. If vehicles arrive simultaneously, then the one on the right must be given the right of way.

  • If you are entering a main road from an alley or driveway, or from the roadside, you must give the right of way to vehicles that are already in the road.

  • If you cannot proceed through an intersection without having to stop, you may not proceed even if the light is in your favor.

  • Emergency vehicles, i.e. police cars, ambulances, fire engines or other vehicles associated with emergency services, must be given the right of way if blue or red lights are flashing and sirens or air horns are sounding. If you are already in an intersection, continue through and then pull over as soon as you can safely do so.

  • You must give the right of way to any train that is crossing the roadway.

Common misconceptions about New Mexico right-of-way laws

Motorists often mistakenly believe that right of way is something that they are entitled to by law under certain conditions. The reality is that no one is ever entitled to the right of way – it has to be yielded. You are under an obligation to drive safely, and that means that you may not proceed until you know that you have been given the right of way.

Penalties for failure to yield

Failure to yield right of way in New Mexico will result in your having to pay a fine of $15, plus costs of $65, for a total of $80. You will also have three demerit points attached to your license – four if you fail to yield to an emergency vehicle.

For more information, consult the New Mexico Driver Manual pages 11-12.


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