Is It Illegal To Change Lanes In An Intersection In New Mexico?

We failed to find a statute that makes it illegal to change lanes in an intersection in New Mexico.

That’s not altogether surprising though, because few states have actually enacted such a law.

For drivers who approach intersections too casually, it’s important to appreciate that anything other than driving straight through an intersection, is riskier. This includes changing lanes mid-way too.

Our article explains what you need to know about state law for intersections, changing lanes, turning, and more.

Is It Illegal To Change Lanes In An Intersection In New Mexico? (EXPLAINED)


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Where Are The Laws That I Can Look To In Order To Confirm Whether Lane Changes In An Intersection In This State Are Legal/Illegal?

The best place to look to confirm whether a maneuver is legal (or not) is the current and applicable laws of the state you are present in (not the DMV handbook or a news article).

The approach to intersections has legislation confirming how drivers should proceed:

A. The driver of a vehicle approaching an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to a vehicle which has entered the intersection from a different highway.

Also, multiple highways connected via an intersection with more than one vehicle approaching is covered in the B section below:

B. When two vehicles enter an intersection from different highways at approximately the same time the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right.

Source: New Mexico Code 66-7-328

For making a turn at an intersection, the New Mexico motor vehicle code 66-7-329 covers what to do when planning to turn left:

The driver of a vehicle within an intersection intending to turn to the left shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard, but said driver, having so yielded and having given a signal when and as required by the Motor Vehicle Code [66-1-1 NMSA 1978], may make such left turn and the drivers of all other vehicles approaching the intersection from said opposite direction shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle making the left turn.

Source: New Mexico Code 66-7-329

Furthermore, with New Mexico Traffic Code 66-7-322, additional stipulations are made regarding vehicle positioning when either turning left or right at intersections:

A. both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway

B. at any intersection where traffic is permitted to move in both directions on each roadway entering the intersection, an approach for a left turn, except where left-turn provisions are made, shall be made in that portion of the right half of the roadway nearest the center line thereof and by passing to the right of such center line where it enters the intersection and after entering the intersection the left turn shall be made so as to leave the intersection to the right of the center line of the roadway being entered. Whenever practicable the left turn shall be made in that portion of the intersection to the left of the center of the intersection;

Source: New Mexico Code 66-7-322

No-passing zones allow jurisdictions to make either temporary or permanent distinctions for areas where no overtaking is permitted. New Mexico Code 66-7-315 does exactly this:

A. The state transportation commission and local authorities may determine those portions of any highway under their respective jurisdictions where overtaking and passing or driving on the left of the roadway would be especially hazardous and may, by appropriate signs or markings on the roadway, indicate the beginning and end of such zones. When the signs or markings are in place and clearly visible to an ordinarily observant person, every driver of a vehicle shall obey the directions of the signs or markings.

Source: New Mexico Code 66-7-315

Passing vehicles or overtaking them, including changing lanes to do so, is legislated in Code 66-7-310:

A. the driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle; and

The driver of the overtaken vehicle also has a law to guide them too:

B. except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle on audible signal and shall not increase the speed of his vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.

Source: New Mexico Code 66-7-310

Neither changing lanes nor overtaking at an intersection was found to be prohibited, as long as it is conducted safely.

Why Do People Generally Think That It’s Illegal To Change Lanes In An Intersection?

It is generally common to learn in driver’s education that you should not change lanes in an intersection, and to see the same messaging in DMV training materials.

It is a bad idea to change lanes in intersections, as it is dangerous.

Thus it makes sense that people would be taught to avoid it.

The misconception gets repeated, and is then treated as fact.

If It’s Not Illegal In New Mexico To Change Lanes In An Intersection, Why Did I Get A Ticket?

Tickets can be issued by a police officer for many valid reasons.

While we’re still upset, it’s possible to find it difficult to console ourselves or believe that we did anything wrong. Yet, it’s rare to get ticketed without a valid reason.

Speeding or driving unsafely can be good reasons to do so.

Also, a late lane change causing other drivers to brake or alter their course to avoid your vehicle is certainly a valid reason to be ticketed too.

Ultimately, the officer is likely the best person to clarify what they feel they saw and what you did that was incorrect.

What Happens If A Car Accident Results?

Under New Mexico Code 66-7-206, drivers involved in an accident are required to notify the proper authorities:

The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in bodily injury to or death of any person or property damage to an apparent extent of five hundred dollars ($500) or more shall immediately, by the quickest means of communication, give notice of the accident to the police department if the accident occurs within a municipality; otherwise to the office of the county sheriff or the nearest office of the New Mexico state police.

Source: New Mexico Code 66-7-206

A car accident, especially in an intersection, is not a trivial matter.

Staying at the scene and reporting the incident are both required. Wherever possible, rending aid is expected under section 67-7-203 of New Mexico Motor laws when other people are injured.

When there are personal injuries, you may eventually need to consult with an attorney.

Finding an effective New Mexico motor vehicle accident lawyer early on is smart if there are injured parties.  

Wrap Up

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Is It Illegal To Change Lanes In An Intersection In New Mexico