New Mexico DMV Handbook and Regulations FAQ

If you’re getting ready to apply for your driving privileges and you live in New Mexico (or plan to soon) then you’ll want to make sure you grab a copy of the New Mexico Driver’s Handbook and start studying. Careful, diligent studying of the text combined with use of a solid practice test is the best way to make sure you pass your written knowledge test sooner rather than later. You may also wish to skim the following FAQ for a better idea of how to navigate the application process in general.
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How old do I need to be before I can apply for my driver’s license in New Mexico?
Every U.S. state has its own age requirement you’re expected to meet before you can apply for your license and get your permit, but in New Mexico, you need to be at least 15 years of age.
What documents do I need to bring with me when I arrive to apply?
Everyone applying for a new driver’s license or learner’s permit in New Mexico needs to show proper documentation in order for their application to be considered. Make sure you bring state-recognized items of the following types.
  • Proof of your legal name and identity
  • Proof of your social security number
  • Two proofs of your residency in the state of New Mexico
If you are between the ages of 18 and 24, you will also need to show proof that you have taken and completed a "None for the Road" DWI education course. If you are under the age of 18, you will need to show proof of enrollment or completion of a state-certified driver’s education course. If you are unsure as to whether or not a given document will be accepted by the DMV, make sure you contact a DMV rep from your local field office to check before you show up. Otherwise, you risk being turned away and having to come back at a later date.
If I’m an underage driver, do my parents need to bring me to the DMV when I apply for my permit?
Yes. You should have a parent or legal guardian accompany you, as they will need to sign your application in order to show consent.
Does New Mexico require me to pass a physical before I will be cleared for my learner’s permit or license?
No. A few U.S. states still require people to pass physicals before they can get their licenses, but New Mexico is not one of them. However, like other states, New Mexico does require all would-be drivers to take and pass a vision test to make sure they’re road-safe. Make sure you bring any corrective eyewear you may require when you arrive to apply, as you’ll be expected to undergo vision testing then.
How long do I need to hold my permit before I can take my road test and get my New Mexico driver’s license?
Once you successfully obtain your learner’s permit, you must hold it for at least 6 months before you can apply for your license. During that time, you are to enroll in and pass a certified driver’s education program that includes a 3-hour DWI awareness course. You are also to log at least 50 hours of supervised driving practice (with 10 of those hours occurring at night). Once you have met these requirements, you are free to take your road test whenever you feel ready.
What is the difference between a provisional license and a full unrestricted license?
In New Mexico, there are two types of driver’s licenses. Your first driver’s license will be what is known as a provisional license. Provisional licenses are a bit like beginner’s licenses for young drivers. Eventually your provisional license can be exchanged for an unrestricted license. If you have a provisional license, you are required to:
  • Carry no more than one passenger under the age of 21 unless they are immediate family members.
  • Abstain from operating your vehicle between the hours of 12AM and 5AM.
Both of the above restrictions are waived if you are driving on a supervised basis. Your supervising driver must be at least 21 years of age to qualify.
How do I exchange my provisional license for an unrestricted license?
Once you have held your provisional license for at least 12 months, you are technically eligible to apply for your unrestricted license. There is no age requirement you need to meet. However, if you are under the age of 18, your parent or legal guardian will have to sign your application in order to show consent. You also must not have committed any traffic violations within 90 days of your application date, as well as have followed all of the above rules attached to your provisional license. Last but not least, you will need to pay the unrestricted driver’s license fee -- $18 for a 4-year license and $34 for an 8-year license.
I’m new to New Mexico. What do I need to do in order to have my out-of-state driving privileges transferred over?
You are required to have your license transferred as soon as you become a New Mexico resident. There is no grace period to speak of, so the sooner you can get it done, the better. Be prepared to:
  • Show one document that proves your identity, one that proves your social security number, and two that prove your residency in the state of New Mexico.
  • Surrender your existing out-of-state license.
  • Take and pass a vision exam.
  • Pay the applicable fees -- $15 for a DWI records check and then licensing fees as well ($18 for 4 years and $34 for 8).
If your license is expired, then you can still have it transferred/renewed. However, you should be prepared for the possibility that you’ll be asked to retake your written knowledge test and/or your road test. All people with licenses expired for over one year must take the written knowledge test. If it’s been expired for 5 years or longer, then you will be required to take the road test as well.