How to Get a New Mexico Learner’s Permit

You’re eligible to get a New Mexico learner’s permit once you turn 15—but don’t roll up to the MVD office to apply without reading our guide.
Written by Mariza Morin
Reviewed by Pat Roache
You must be at least 15 years old to apply for a learner’s permit in
New Mexico
and take your first steps toward getting your full driver’s license. You’ll need to enroll in a state-approved driver education program, pass a permit test, and submit the appropriate documents with your application.
There’s nothing more freeing than getting behind the wheel for the first time. But before you can even think about getting your
New Mexico driver’s license
, you’ll need to get your learner’s permit.
If you’re new to the wonderful world of driving, we’re here to cover all the necessary steps you’ll need to know to get your New Mexico instructional permit, along with the restrictions young drivers must follow before moving on to the next step in the state’s Graduated Licensing System.

How to get a New Mexico learner’s permit

If you’re looking to apply for a learner’s permit (also known as an instructional permit in New Mexico) you must meet the
New Mexico driving age
requirement— 15 years old.
Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) in New Mexico has three stages to help ease new drivers on the rules of the road.
For stage one of GDL, you’ll need to enroll in a state-approved
Driver Education School
prior to applying for an instructional permit. Approved driver education courses must be certified and licensed by the Traffic Safety Bureau (TSB) of the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) or contracted with the New Mexico MVD.
Your Driver Education School trainers will inform you of how many hours you need to complete before heading down to your nearest MVD. Once you have proof of enrollment or completion in your hands, you’re ready to apply for your New Mexico instructional permit!

What to bring to MVD

Next, you’ll need to visit your local
New Mexico MVD Field Office
to get your instructional permit. Once you’re there, the teen driver and parent or legal guardian must complete and sign an instructional permit application there at the MVD office first.
To apply for an instructional permit in New Mexico, you’ll need to bring the appropriate paperwork from a
list of acceptable documents
to verify your driver’s education enrollment, along with proof of identity and residency:
  • Proof of completing or enrolling in a state-approved Driver Education School
  • Proof of identity and age (e.g., original birth certificate or New Mexico ID)
  • Proof of
    New Mexico residency
    (e.g., school transcripts or documents indicating membership in an NM sports organization if under 18)
You must also pass an MVD Knowledge Exam—unless you’ve already completed the exam through a state-approved Driver Education School.
  • If you’ve completed your knowledge exam through the TSB, they’ll give you an “approved” referral card to present to the MVD as proof of completing your driver course
  • If you’re taking the 25-question knowledge test for the first time at the MVD, it’s a good idea to look over the
    New Mexico Driver Manual
You’ll also need to pass a vision test with at least 20/40 vision and pay a $10 instructional permit application fee before you take your driver’s license photo.

New Mexico learner’s permit regulations

Now that you’ve passed all the necessary tests and paid your permit fee, you’re ready to get behind the wheel with your new instructional permit—under the proper supervision, of course!
According to New Mexico law, teen drivers with an instructional permit can only drive with an adult 21 years old or older (who has been licensed for a minimum of three years) in the front passenger seat at all times.
While holding their instructional permit for at least six months, teen drivers can work toward the
provisional license stage
in the New Mexico Graduated Licensing System. In order to get your provisional driver’s license, you must:
  • Be at least 15 ½ years old
  • Provide a Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) driving log with 50 hours of supervised driving practice, including 10 hours at night (signed by a parent or legal guardian)
  • Provide a Certificate of Completion from a state-approved Driver Education School that includes a three-hour DWI component 
  • Have maintained a
    clean driving record
    for 90 days
  • Pay an $18 provisional license fee
After you’ve completed the steps above for stage two in the New Mexico Graduated Licensing System, you’ll need to pass your MVD Road Skills Exam or provide proof of passing an approved MVD Road Skills Exam through a state-approved Driver Education School. Once this last step is complete—you’ll get your New Mexico provisional license!
Before you can apply for a full unrestricted driver’s license in New Mexico, you’ll need to hold your provisional license for at least 12 months with no traffic violations for at least 90 days before you apply for a full license—including pending violations. After these steps, just pay your $18 full unrestricted license fee, and you’ll be ready to hit the road in no time!
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