If you’re thinking about relocating to New Mexico or you’ve recently moved due to a job, you’ll need to obtain your state driver’s license as soon as possible. Since most new residents aren’t fully aware of what is required of them and their car or motorcycle, our specialists are here to clear things up. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the different types of New Mexico driver’s licenses available and what you should know when it comes to getting your new driver’s license.

At MVD Express we’ve helped hundreds of residents across Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Las Cruces, and Santa Fe obtain their driver’s license through our speedy and efficient motor vehicle services. From motor vehicle titles to vehicle registration and road tests, we’re confident we can handle all of your needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at one of our convenient DMV locations today!

The New Mexico Driver’s License

In the state of New Mexico, anyone operating a motor vehicle or motorcycle on public roadways must have a driver’s license. If you are under the age of eighteen, it is required of you to participate in the graduated driver’s license system until you meet the unique requirements for an unrestricted license. The three different levels of a graduated driver’s license (GLD) include:

  • An Instructional Permit, also known as a learner’s permit.
  • A Provisional License
  • An Unrestricted Driver’s License

Instructional Permit

If you’ve ever wondered what an instructional permit is, our motor vehicle specialists are here to help. An instructional permit is a permit that allows you to operate a motor vehicle when supervised by another driver who is at least 21 years of age, and who is licensed to drive that type of vehicle. In all types of vehicles except for motorcycles, the licensed driver must be sitting in the right front seat. For motorcyclists, the licensed driver must follow the learner from behind.

In order to obtain an instructional permit, you must be at least fifteen years of age and you must pass the knowledge and vision test at your local DMV. For those under the age of eighteen, a consent form must be signed by your legal parent or guardian. Let’s take a look at the requirements and restrictions for an Instructional Permit below.

  • As mentioned above, the minimum age for an Instructional Permit is fifteen years old.
  • The person must be enrolled in a driver education course that has been approved by the Traffic Safety Bureau and includes DWI education and practice driving.
  • The driver must have an approved instructor occupying the seat beside them or the driver must be with a licensed driver that is 21 years old or older. The licensed driver must have their license for at least three years in the state that it was issued.
  • The new driver must retain his or her Instructional Permit for at least six months.

A Provisional License

A provisional license is a license that allows you to drive without the supervision of another driver, except during the hours of midnight and 5:00am. Unless there is a licensed driver that is 21 years or older in the vehicle, you may not have more than one other passenger under the age of 21 (who is not a member of your immediate family) in the vehicle. Some other requirements and restrictions for a Provisional License are as follows:

  • The driver must complete at least 50 hours of practice driving. This should include at least 10 hours of nighttime driving. The parent or guardian of the driver will be the one to certify that the driver has completed his or her driving practice.
  • The driver is required to pass a written and hands-on road test in addition to vision screening.
  • The driver must not have been convicted of a traffic violation in the 90 days prior to applying for a Provisional License.
  • A driver may not operate a motor vehicle upon public highways between the hours of midnight and 5:00am. A provisional licensee may drive at any hour if:
    • They are accompanied by a driver that is 21 years or older.
    • They are required to drive as part of a medical necessity as evidenced by a signed statement of a parent or guardian.
    • They are required to drive as a part of family necessity, which should be evidenced by a signed statement of the parent or guardian.
    • They are driving to and from work as evidenced by a signed statement from the licensee’s employer.
    • They are driving to and from school or a religious activity as evidenced by a signed statement of a school, religious official, or guardian.

An Unrestricted Driver’s License

An unrestricted driver’s license can be given to those who have fully developed and practiced their driving skills (usually over a two- to three-year period). These people are considered to be competent drivers with the minimum allowable restrictions including:

  • The driver must have held a Provisional License for the 12-month period immediately preceding the date of application for a driver’s license.
  • The driver must not have been convicted of a traffic violation 90 days prior to applying for a driver’s license.
  • The driver must not have any traffic violations pending at the time they apply for a driver’s license.
  • The driver must not have been adjudicated guilty or have a pending offense involving the use of alcohol or drugs during the provisional period.

New Mexico Driver’s License Renewal

In the state of New Mexico, your driver’s license is considered valid for either four or eight years, depending on the type of license you acquire. You have the ability to renew your license anytime up to 90 days before or 30 days after it expires. In order to renew your license, you will need to bring your current license and one other proof of identity to the DMV. You may also be required to take a vision, knowledge, and driving test.

If you live in New Mexico and you need to obtain your legal driver’s license, visit one of our MVD Express locations today!