What does it mean to “drive without a license” in New Mexico?
Driving without a license can refer to three scenarios.
You’re stopped for an offense and:
- You have
a license but it’s not in your possession. New Mexico Code § 66-5-16 is
violated when an individual has a valid license, but does not have it in his or
her possession when stopped. In other words, you were licensed to drive but
lacked proof, an infraction that may be dismissed once you can prove that you
possessed a valid license at the time of the incident. (Note: you may have to pay a fine.)
- You never
applied for a license (or your license expired). According to NM Statutes § 66-5-2,
"no person shall drive any motor vehicle or moped upon a highway in this
state unless he holds a valid license." Violation is a misdemeanor.
license was cancelled, revoked or suspended by the authorities. This
offense is punishable by a fine of up to $1000 and a “minimum mandatory” of four
days in jail, and a maximum of a year. Also, the violator's car may be “booted”
for 30 days. The penalties are harsher if the violator was suspended for a DUI.
Who doesn’t have to have a valid New Mexico driver’s license?
New Mexico (NMSA §66-5-4) exempts the following persons from
having to possess a valid New Mexico license:
- any employee of the United States while driving
a motor vehicle owned by or leased to the United States and being driven on
- any person who is at least fifteen years of age
and who has in his immediate possession a valid driver's license issued to him
in his home state or country may drive a motor vehicle in this state, except
that the person shall obtain a license upon becoming a resident and before he
is employed for compensation by another for the purpose of driving a motor
- any nonresident who is at least eighteen years
of age whose home state or country does not require the licensing of drivers
may drive a motor vehicle for a period of not more than one hundred eighty days
in any calendar year if the motor vehicle driven is duly registered in the home
state or country of the nonresident;
- any driver of a farm tractor or implement of
husbandry temporarily drawn, moved or propelled on the highway; and
- any driver of an off-highway motorcycle.
How do you fight the charge?
Fighting a “driving without a license charge” can be
difficult. Once the district attorney or
prosecutor alleges that you drove without a valid license, the burden of proof
is on you to prove that you did
possess a valid driver’s license at the time of your offense. If you don’t have
evidence of a license, you lose! Depending on your circumstances, you may
benefit from the advice or negotiating skills of an attorney.
Can an undocumented immigrant obtain a driver’s license in New Mexico?
An individual can obtain a license if they provide an individual
taxpayer identification number (ITIN) or other document designated by the
Department of Motor Vehicles, along with proof of identity and residency.