Licensing & State Laws

New Mexico’s three-stage licensing process allows teens to gradually gain exposure to complex driving situations, easing them into driving over an extended period of time. The instructional permit and provisional stages are key steps.

Instructional Permit

At age 15, teens can apply for an instructional permit in the state of New Mexico. To do so, the teen must have proof of identity and proof of identification number and proof of New Mexico residency. Either the proof of identity or proof of identification must show the teen’s date of birth. Teens must pass a written driver’s knowledge test and a vision test to receive a learner’s permit. In addition, a teen must be enrolled in and attending a driver education course approved by the Traffic Safety Bureau that includes DWI education and practice driving.

With an instructional permit, teens may only drive with a licensed driver age 21 or older, who has been licensed for at least three years, supervising and sitting in the front seat. Teens are required to practice driving for at least 50 hours, including 10 hours at night, with a parent or a legal guardian, before they’re allowed a provisional license. Teen and parent/guardian will complete and sign the instructional permit application. If the state-approved driver education program was not completed prior to obtaining the permit, it must be completed before the teen can obtain an intermediate license.

Provisional License

When teens turn 15 ½, have had an instructional permit for at least 6 months and have completed 50 hours of practice driving (including 10 hours at night), they can apply for the provisional license. The parent or guardian shall certify that the driver has completed the practice driving requirement. They also must pass a behind-the-wheel driving test and complete a vision test. Legal guardians must accompany their teens to the DMV to sign the application form. The driver must have not been convicted of a traffic violation in the 90 days prior to applying for this provisional license.

Teens with provisional licenses are allowed to drive alone, but must follow certain restrictions. They may not drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless a licensed driver age 21 or older is in the vehicle. A provisional license holder may not have more than one passenger under the age of 21 who is not an immediate family member. (Some exceptions are granted.) Teen drivers and all passengers are required to wear seat belts.

Full License

At age 16 ½, teens are eligible for a full unrestricted license if they have held an intermediate license for at least 12 months. Teen and parent/guardian must complete and sign the driver license application and verify the teen has completed provisional license requirements and does not have any traffic violations or had any drug or alcohol offenses during provisional period.  The state does not place night or passenger limits on those with unrestricted licenses. However, AAA encourages parents to maintain their own rules.

parent-teen driving agreement can help you enforce licensing rules that the state and your family set. An agreement helps you and your teen understand the rules of the road and sends a clear message that driving is an earned privilege that your family takes seriously.

The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) is in charge of licensing for all drivers in New Mexico. The MVD conducts the written exam and road test needed to get a driver’s license. It also provides study materials to help your teen get ready for the exams.

Remind your teen that police can and will enforce all requirements on seat belt use, drinking and driving, and other laws. Breaking the law can lead to fines, license suspension and other penalties.

  • If stopped by the police, teens should present a valid license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
  • Whether stopped as a driver or passenger, teens should always cooperate and be respectful with law enforcement.
  • If in any kind of situation involving law enforcement, teens should talk to their parents about it, because this can create a learning experience.

 If your teen gets a ticket or is involved in a crash, it could lead to a court appearance. Judges deal seriously and directly with teen traffic violations. They can assess fines and suspend driving privileges for traffic offenses – even for a first offense, depending on the type of violation.