Programs & Services

Regulations

MARINE LAW ENFORCEMENT

LOCAL REGULATIONS AND ENFORCEMENT

New Mexico State Parks rangers, New Mexico sheriffs, and New Mexico State Police officers have full authority to enforce New Mexico’s boating laws and regulations. Some waters have additional equipment and operational restrictions. Before boating on a particular water, check with the local authorities for additional regulations.

REGULATIONS

KNOW THE LAW

To ensure safety on the water for you and others, it is important that boaters be familiar with the Boat Act, the Boating While Intoxicated Act, and regulations of Boating Operation and Safety. Take the time to learn the laws and regulations for vessel length, capacity, required equipment, anchoring and mooring, prohibited operation, and traffic control.

ALCOHOL and DRUGS

New Mexico law prohibits anyone from operating under the influence of alcohol or any drug or other controlled substance. It is illegal to operate with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher.

NAVIGATING ON NEW MEXICO WATERS

Safe navigation is the responsibility of all boaters. When a person operating a vessel meets, overtakes, or crosses another vessel’s course, the operator shall take the appropriate action.

  • Meeting head-on: both vessels shall turn to starboard (right).
  • Overtaking: the vessel that is overtaking another vessel should keep clear of the vessel being overtaken.
  • Crossing paths: the vessel approaching from the left shall give way by altering course, slowing down, stopping, or reversing.
  • Power operated vessels: a power operated vessel shall yield the right-of-way to a non-powered vessel.
  • Vessel departure/arrival: a vessel leaving a pier or dock has the right-of-way over a vessel approaching a dock.
  • Distance: vessels shall keep 150 feet away from swimmers, water skiers, fishermen, diver flags, and others not participating in the same activity.

TUBING, WATERSKIING AND WAKEBOARDING

Every person who is towed behind a vessel on a tube, water skis, a wakeboard, or a similar object must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device approved for the activity. New Mexico law states that the following dangerous practices are illegal:

  • Towing a person between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise.
  • Towing a person within 150 feet of public docks, mooring lines, launch ramps, boats, anglers, swimmers, or any person not also doing the same activity.
  • Towing a person so that he or she becomes airborne (except on a parasail).
  • Towing a person in a manner that would cause the person or object being towed to collide with any object or person.

In addition to carrying all required safety equipment, a motorboat operator who tows anyone behind his or her vessel must also have on board:

  1. A skier-down flag that is displayed in all directions when the person is in the water.
  2. One of the following
    • a wide-angle rear-view mirror that gives the motorboat operator an unobstructed view of the person or object being towed
    • an observer in addition to the operator

In addition to carrying all required safety equipment, a personal watercraft operator who tows anyone behind his or her vessel must also have on board:

  1. A skier-down flag that is displayed in all directions when the person is in the water.
  2. An observer on board in addition to the operator.
  3. Manufacturer-approved seating for the operator, observer, and each person being towed.

ANCHORING AND MOORING

It is illegal to:

  • Anchor a vessel within 150 feet of a marina, boat ramp or courtesy dock.
  • Attach a vessel to a buoy (except a mooring buoy).
  • Attach a vessel to a courtesy dock for longer than 10 minutes.
  • Allow an anchored or moored vessel to drift or damage property.

PREVENT POLLUTION

Discharging or depositing liquid or solid waste into state waters is illegal. This includes oil and gray water. Polluters may be held civilly liable for cleanup costs and may be fined thousands of dollars. Visit the New Mexico Environment Department Surface Water Quality Bureau to learn more and to report a spill.

PROHIBITED OPERATIONS

New Mexico law states that the following dangerous operating practices are illegal:

  • Reckless or negligent operation.
  • Overloading a vessel.
  • Bow riding.
  • Teak surfing (“platform dragging”).
    • Sitting on a seat back while the vessel is underway.
      • Allowing your legs to hang overboard at any time.
  • Allowing a child younger than 13 to operate a vessel without onboard adult supervision.