New Mexico’s Commercial Driver’s License Laws

The requirements to obtain a New Mexico CDL and the reasons for disqualification.

Like all states, New Mexico requires commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators to possess a commercial driver's license (CDL). New Mexico has special rules regarding the type of license a commercial operator must have and the requirements for obtaining a CDL. New Mexico also has strict penalties for drivers who fail to comply with the CMV rules. This article outlines the types of CDLs, the application process, and the reasons for which a CDL can be revoked.

When a CDL is Required

New Mexico requires a CDL to operate any vehicle weighing more than 26,000 pounds or designed to carry hazardous materials or 16 or more passengers. Recreational vehicles, firetrucks, and military vehicles are not considered CMVs and do not require the operator to possess a CDL. Agricultural vehicles can also be used without a CDL if owned by the farmer, used within 150 miles of the farm, and not used for hire.

New Mexico's Commercial License Category

There are three categories of CDLs corresponding to the weight of the truck and/or trailer(s).

Combined Weight

Tractor Weight

Trailer(s) Weight

Category A

More than 26,000 pounds

More than 26,000 pounds

Over 10,000 pounds

Category B

More than 26,000 pounds

More than 26,000 pounds

Not over 10,000 pounds

Category C

26,000 pounds or less

26,000 pounds or less

Not over 10,000 pounds

The CDL's applicable weight limits must meet or exceed the operated CMV's weight. So, a category A CDL can be used to operate all weights of CMVs.

Cargo Endorsements

The operation of school buses and hazmat vehicles also require "endorsements" for the driver's CDL. Endorsements often require additional testing and education. The hazmat endorsement also requires the driver to be at least 21 years old and clear a background check.


A CDL can also include certain restrictions. For example, drivers who are under 21 years old cannot operate out-of-state and some drivers cannot operate CMVs with airbrakes.

Restricted Farm CDL

New Mexico has a temporary 180-day license for workers in custom harvest, livestock feeding, and agriculture implement sales. The applicant must be at least 18 years old and hold a valid driver's license for at least one year prior to applying and have a good driving history. However, no written or driving test is required. Holders of this temporary license are limited to operating a class B or C CMV and cannot travel more than 150 miles from the farm or place of business.

CDL Testing

The path to obtaining a CDL begins by being at least 18 years old, holding a New Mexico driver's license, and taking the knowledge test to receive a commercial driver's instruction permit (CDIP). The CDIP can be used to practice driving a CMV while supervised in the front seat by a licensed commercial driver. Finally, to obtain a full CDL, the driver must pass the CMV driving test.

Medical certificate. Unless deemed exempt, all CMV drivers must obtain and hold a current medical examiner's certificate. This certificate indicates that a physician has examined the licensee and found the licensee physically fit enough to operate a CMV.

CDL Revocation and Disqualification

Certain criminal convictions and rule violations will result in CDL revocation. A CDL holder is required to disclose all traffic convictions to their employer and to the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division. CDL holders are not eligible for any conviction masking or diversions.

Serious traffic violations. "Serious traffic violations" include speeding 15 miles per hour or more over the limit, reckless driving, erratic lane change, following too closely, texting while driving, causing death or great bodily injury with a vehicle, or causing injury to a pregnant woman with a vehicle. Driving a CMV without a CDL in possession or with improper certifications is also a serious traffic violation. The commission of multiple serious traffic violations within three years will result in license disqualification. The driver's license will be disqualified for at least 60 days for two violations and at least 120 days for three or more violations.

Out-of-service orders. A temporary out-of-service order (OSO) can be issued to a CMV, CDL-holder, or CMV business for certain safety violations. The penalties vary depending on the CMV driven and the number of prior offenses in the last ten years.

  • First offense. Minimum $2,500 civil penalty and 90-day to one-year license revocation (180 days to two years if driving a CMV designed for hazmat or 16 or more passengers).
  • Second offense. Minimum $5,000 civil penalty and one-to five-year license revocation (three to five years if driving a CMV designed for hazmat or 16 or more passengers).
  • Third offense. Minimum $5,000 civil penalty and three-to-five-year license revocation.

An employer that knowingly permits an OSO violation will be fined $2,750 to $11,000.

Railroad crossings. New Mexico has special rules for operating a CMV near or over railroad tracks. CMV operators must stop at least 15 feet away from the crossing and must ensure the CMV has enough clearance in front and below to safely cross. Railroad track violations will result in a $150 fine and a minimum 60-day, 120-day, and one-year license disqualification for a first, second, and third violation in three years. An employer that knowingly permits a railroad violation can be fined up to $10,000.

Major offenses. Certain convictions and offenses will result in a minimum one-year disqualification. This list includes chemical test refusal, DUI (driving under the influence), operating a CMV with a BAC of .04% or higher, driving under 21 years old with a BAC of .02% or higher, leaving the scene of an accident, using a motor vehicle in the commission of a felony, homicide-by-vehicle, and driving a CMV while revoked. Any of these violations that occur in a hazmat CMV will result in a minimum three-year disqualification. A second or subsequent listed offense results in a lifetime revocation, but the driver can reapply after ten years. Using a motor vehicle to transport or manufacture controlled substances is a permanent lifetime ban.

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