ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Taking your eyes off the road to send or read a text message is dangerous and soon, it will get you a ticket anywhere in New Mexico.
Sunday, Governor Susana Martinez signed a bill that makes texting while driving illegal across the state.
“There is no text message, no Facebook post, no tweet worth a person’s life,” Martinez said to a crowd at the Office of the Medical Investigator in Albuquerque.
With her signature, Governor Martinez and New Mexico, join 41 other states where texting while driving is illegal.
“Senate Bill 19 as amended is now law,” Martinez said.
James Clark had been waiting for this day.
Last summer his phone beeped he took his eyes off the road.
“In the amount of time it took me to reach over there and look at it, I was in the shoulder, over-corrected and flipped a couple of times actually,” Clark said. “It was terrifying.”
At the time, the graduate from East Mountain High was on his way to meet with State Representative James Smith to work on his campaign.
The two would end up working together this legislative session on the bill to ban texting and driving.
“At that point, I knew I had to be committed to getting this law passed,” Smith said.
Once the law takes effect later this year, you can be pulled over if you’re seen looking down at your phone.
That’s tougher than some states where you have to be pulled over for doing something else first.
“Here in New Mexico, texting while driving is now the leading cause of death for teen drivers,” Martinez said.
You will also be reminded of the dangers with a TV advertisement produced by the state’s Department of Transportation. It shows a distracted driver crashing into a light pole marked by the Grim Reaper.
“Lives, not just yours, but others, depend on it,” Martinez said.
The only exception to the law is if you find yourself having to text and drive during a medical or some other type of emergency.
It goes into effect on July 1st. If you get busted texting while driving, it’ll cost you $25 the first time. Get caught again and that ticket will cost you $50.