New Mexico's State Boating Laws

Life Jacket Laws in New Mexico

All boats must carry a Coast Guard-approved, wearable lifejacket of proper size for each person on board or being pulled as a skier, plus one Coast Guard-approved throwable device, cushion or ring buoy.

A throwable flotation device is not required for personal watercraft, kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, or rubber rafts.

Children’s Life Jacket Law

Life Jacket Laws in New Mexico

In New Mexico, boat passengers 12 years of age and younger are required to wear a Coast Guard-approved lifejacket while on board any boat while the boat is underway, unless the child is in an enclosed cabin or below decks.

Personal Watercraft (PWC) Life Jacket Law

Any person operating or riding on a PWC is required to wear a Coast Guard-approved lifejacket.

Human-Powered Craft Lifejacket Law

Any person operating a canoe, kayak, paddleboard or rubber raft is required to wear a Coast Guard-approved, Type I, II or III lifejacket.

Towed Sports Lifejacket Law

Any person being towed behind a boat is required to wear a Coast Guard-approved, Type I, II or III lifejacket. Inflatable lifejackets are not permitted for towing activities.

New Mexico’s Muffler and Noise Level Requirements

The exhaust of every internal combustion engine used on a motorized boat must be effectively muffled by equipment designed to suppress the noise of the exhaust in a reasonable manner.

Your muffling device can be a muffler, exhaust restrictor or water-injected exhaust header. In New Mexico, the use of cutouts or open exhaust stacks is prohibited.


  • Motorized boats participating in permitted regattas, boat races, or speed trials.

Additional Equipment Requirements

In addition to the federal requirements for boat equipment, all boat operators must carry the following equipment when operating on New Mexico’s waters:

  • One stout rope which is equal to the length of the boat or longer.
  • One paddle/oar.
  • One bailing device/bucket with a capacity of one gallon or more, or a hand operated bilge pump.

Persons engaged in canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding or rubber rafting are not required to have a bucket, bilge pump or a length of stout rope.