Skating safely: Police Chief Torpy addresses helmet law

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By Jennifer Garcia

The skate park in front of Mesa Public Library opened last month, much to the delight of local youth.

So far the reaction to the opening of the skate park has been mostly positive, however, as Police Chief Wayne Torpy will attest, there have also been some complaints.

The complaints Torpy is receiving stem from some of the skate park users not wearing helmets while at the park. Torpy was in council chambers on Tuesday night to brief council on the New Mexico Child Helmet Safety Act.

The Child Helmet Safety Act of 2007 states that all minors under the age of 18 must wear helmets when riding bicycles, skateboards, scooters, skates and tricycles.

According to a document from the New Mexico Department of Health, the Child Helmet Safety Act is very similar to existing state laws in that it does not require helmet use by adults, nor is there any intention to emphasize enforcement or punishment.

Five existing state laws have no provision for enforcement or require verbal warnings only, while all the other state laws allow for small fines, usually no more than $25-$50 that typically can be waived with proof of helmet purchase.

New Mexico has a maximum of a civil fine (no record) of $10 that can be waived with proof of purchase of a helmet and a municipal option of “verbal warnings only.”

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