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New Mexico Graduated License Program - NM Graduated Drivers License Requirements

New Mexico Graduated Drivers License

New Mexico is one of the states that took a number of steps towards making public roads safer and the New Mexico graduated drivers license program is one of such steps. The graduated drivers license program targets teenage drivers and aims at reducing the number of traffic accidents that involve drivers of this age groups. Mandatory drivers education classes and a multi-step licensing system are two key elements of the New Mexico graduated license program. Please remember that the program applies only to drivers under the age of 18, if you are over this age, you do not need to follow the New Mexico graduated license requirements.

In order to understand the graduated drivers license requirements better, let's take a look at what the program really is and what led to its development.

Driving is an activity that is fully integrated into our lives. Most of the people you know probably have a New Mexico drivers license and own a vehicle or two. As the population grows, the roads become more congested and traffic conditions pose more challenges before drivers. Building new roads that can accommodate heavier traffic is part of the solutions, but you also need to invest into preparing safe drivers and to allow them to gain some driving experience in a safe driving environment.

Experience is very important when it comes to driving and unfortunately, there is no way to gain that experience apart from getting behind the wheel and spending countless hours driving. Experience is what allows you to make the right choices, avoid situations that can become dangerous and accommodate for the mistakes made by other drivers.

At this point, you may be asking yourself why does the New Mexico graduated drivers license program apply to teenage drivers only if it's about gaining the driving experience. If you received your New Mexico drivers license yesterday, you have exactly one day of driving experience, no matter how old you are, so shouldn't drivers of all ages follow the same rules?

It turns out that older drivers usually take steps to compensate for the shortcomings of their driving skills while youngsters tend to overestimate their driving ability. Older drivers tend to drive slower and take other safety precautions when they drive. On the contrary, teenagers are much more likely to speed, be distracted and are less likely to use seat belt. This leads to the fact that traffic accidents is a number one cause of death for people between 15 and 20 years of age.

The graduated drivers license program aims at addressing the factors the increase the chances of traffic accidents. The restrictions that are applied to teenage drivers prevent them from being distracted by friends or cell phones. Teen drivers are also heavily penalized for any moving violation that they receive before they have a full unrestricted drivers license.

New Mexico Graduated License Stages

The New Mexico graduated drivers license law divides the licensing procedure into a number of separate steps instead of granting the applicants with full driving privileges right away. As the applicant proceeds through the stages of the program, additional driving privileges are awarded. The New Mexico graduated license system has the following stages:

  1. Learners permit
  2. Provisional license
  3. Full drivers license

Please remember that if you are 18 years of age or older, you do not need to observe the graduated license requirements and can obtain a drivers license through a simplified application procedure. However, you still have to submit to the same testing requirements as younger drivers and pass both the written New Mexico permit test and the drivers license skills exam before you can get a drivers license. If you want to see what the learners permit test is like, you may take a free New Mexico permit practice test that covers the same topics as the real exam.

Learners Permit

The minimum age for entering the graduated license program and receiving a New Mexico learners permit is 15 and 1/2. You must already be enrolled in a drivers education course before you can take a drivers permit test.

Drivers ed classes are an important part of the graduated license system and there is no way to skip them if you want to get a drivers license before the age of 18. You may take a state-approved New Mexico drivers education class through your high school or attend the classes offered by commercial driving schools. The school will issue you with the paperwork that you'll need to present at the MVD when you show up for your knowledge exam.

Once you have a learners permit, you can start driving, provided you observe the following New Mexico permit restrictions:

  • No driving alone. You must have a supervising driver seated in the front seat next to you. The supervising driver can be a licensed driving instructor or any other driver at least 21 years of age with at least three years of driving experience. There are no exceptions to this rule, you must never drive alone.
  • Seat belts. Both the learners permit holder and the supervising driver must wear seat belts.
  • No cell phones. Don't talk on a cell phone while driving, if you need to make a phone call, you have to park the car first.

Under the graduated license rules, the permit must be held for at least six months and you must observe the permit restrictions through the whole period. In addition to finishing the drivers education class, you are also expected to complete at least 50 hours of supervised driving, 10 hours must be done at nighttime. Your parents will need to testify that you have completed the required driving hours before you can take a New Mexico drivers test.

A clean driving record is another prerequisite of graduating to the next step of the program. You cannot receive a moving violation of be involved in a traffic accident within 90 days prior to taking your drivers license test.

Provisional Drivers License

The minimum age for applying for a New Mexico provisional drivers license is 16. By this time, you should have already fulfilled all learners permit requirements and have passed the drivers license test. The provisional drivers license allows you to drive without a supervising driver being present, but it is still not a full New Mexico drivers license yet and it comes with the following provisional license restrictions:

  • Curfew. No driving alone between midnight and 5 a.m. An exception can be made if you are traveling to or from an employment or school event for which no other transportation is available or in case of a medical emergency.
  • Passenger restrictions. For the first six months, you cannot carry any passengers under the age of 21 who are not members of your immediate family

The provisional drivers license must be held for at least 12 months before it can be upgraded to a full unrestricted license. The official New Mexico drivers handbook provides more information on the requirements that must be met before a full drivers license can be achieved.

In the future, the New Mexico graduated drivers license system can be updated with additional learners permit and drivers license requirements, so please make sure to get the latest info from the MVD.