New Mexico’s Teen Driver’s License and Insurance Requirements

Learn about the requirements for teens to obtain a driver’s license in New Mexico and what insurance is required.

New Mexico uses a graduated license system to advance unlicensed drivers from an instruction permit to a provisional license and, finally, to a valid driver’s license.

Instruction Permit

Prior to applying for an instruction permit, a teen must be enrolled in an MVD (Motor Vehicles Division)-approved driver’s education course that includes a DWI (driving while intoxicated) education component. Once enrolled, a 15-year-old applicant, with parental consent, can take the vision exam and a test covering local traffic signs and traffic laws to receive an instruction permit.

An instruction permit authorizes the holder to drive only under the direct supervision of a driver’s education instructor or a licensed adult who’s at least 21 years of age and has held a valid license for at least three years.

Provisional License

After completing driver’s education, a teen who’s at least 15 and one half years old can apply for a provisional license. The applicant must have held an instruction permit for at least six months and have no pending traffic violations. And any traffic violations during this period will add 30 days to the waiting period. The application must be signed by a parent or guardian who will be responsible for any negligence or misconduct of the minor. The parent must also sign a driving log recording 50 hours of supervised driving time (including ten nighttime hours). Then, with proof of identification and the application fee, the teen may take the driving test to obtain a provisional license.

Curfew. Provisional license holders are not permitted to drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless:

  • supervised by a licensed driver who’s at least 21 years old
  • for medical necessity
  • for family necessity
  • for religious activities
  • for employment, or
  • for school activities.

The provisional license holder must have certain documentation to lawfully drive under one of these exceptions.

Passengers. Teen drivers are permitted to transport only one non-family member passenger who’s under the age of 21.

Driver’s License

After holding a provisional license for 12 months, teens who are at least 16 and one half years old can apply for a driver’s license. The applicant cannot have any alcohol or drug-related convictions within the last year (or pending) and must have abided by all provisionary license restrictions. Any traffic violations will extend the 12-month period by 30 days.

All minor driver’s license applications must be signed by a parent or guardian who will be liable for any negligence or misconduct.

Insurance

Before any driver can lawfully operate a vehicle in New Mexico, the vehicle must be properly insured. New Mexico required liability insurance must include at least $25,000 bodily injury per person, $50,000 bodily injury per accident, and $10,000 property damage per accident.

Failure to have valid insurance is a misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $300 and a maximum 90 days jail. The driver’s vehicle registration may also be revoked depending on the circumstances of the violation.

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