Car seat checkups, insurance vs. tags, late fees are back - Albuquerque Journal

Car seat checkups, insurance vs. tags, late fees are back

IT’S CAR SEAT SAFETY WEEK: And so the New Mexico Department of Transportation and Safer New Mexico Now will be offering free inspections across the state of car seats and booster seats and how they are installed from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.

To have yours checked, make an appointment by calling 505-856-6143 —no walks-ins will be accommodated, according to the NMDOT news release. You will need to bring the car seat and its manual, your vehicle manual, and the child who uses the seat if at all possible. Masks and social distancing will be required.

The sites are:

  •  Albuquerque: Kohl’s, 6800 Holly NE.
  •  Artesia: Fire Station No. 2, 702 W. Chisum St.
  •  Las Cruces: Heart for the World Church, 1605 South Valley Drive.
  •  Rio Rancho: Target, 4225 Crestview Drive SE.
  •  Santa Fe: JCPenney, 4250 Cerrillos Road.

Why is it important to have this checked out? Because many car seats are installed incorrectly, and then they don’t protect the child as designed. When installed correctly “using car seats decreases the risk of death by an estimated 71% for rear-facing infants and 54% for older, forward-facing children,” the release says. “Additionally, booster seats reduce the likelihood of significant injury for 4- to 8-year-old children over the use of seat belts alone.”

YOU CAN’T REGISTER WITHOUT INSURANCE: A few weeks ago a column included a reader commenting on the abundance of expired license plate tags around town who wrote, “If they’re not currently registered, they can’t have insurance. And that’s a danger to me.”

And another reader questions that.

John emails “My experience and that of a half dozen colleagues confirm he is mistaken, but we either missed or waited in vain for some correction. Our courts and contract law clearly favor coverage. … Please consider printing the opinion of a truly credentialed and qualified person to confirm or deny his reference.”

New Mexico law not only favors but requires coverage. Of course, that doesn’t mean everyone purchases it — although in theory John is right and everyone with an expired plate could have paid for vehicle insurance and just never gotten around to registering their vehicle with the Motor Vehicle Division. In a pandemic with MVD still operating on an appointment-only basis, stranger things could happen.

But according to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2019, New Mexico had the fourth-worst rate of uninsured drivers, at 21.8% — more than one in every five. And there are also all the letters MVD has to send out revoking registrations because people get insurance just to register and then cancel the policies.

So let’s go to that credentialed and qualified person.

I asked Charlie Moore of the Department of Taxation and Revenue, which oversees MVD, which comes first, the insurance or the registration? “This one’s easier than chicken and egg,” he says. “Insurance. It’s one of the documents you need to register.”

And that means our reader should have said something along the lines of “If they’re not currently registered, (I seriously question if) they have insurance.”

MVD ENDS FEE WAIVER: That’s according to a news release that came out late Friday.

“The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division will end its waiver of penalties and late fees related to vehicle registration and titling at the close of business on Sept. 30. Late fees and penalties have been waived under an executive order issued early in the COVID-19 pandemic in the Spring of 2020.”

Those late fees include $10 if a vehicle is operated or transported after the registration has expired, $20 if an application for title is not made within 30 calendar days from the date of transfer, and an increase in the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax from 4% to 6% for failure to apply for a certificate of title within 90 days of accepting transfer of a vehicle in New Mexico.

The release says “all MVD offices are open on an appointment-only basis and most have same-day or next-day availability. Appointments can be booked at or by calling 888-683-4636.”

Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858;; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.


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