What’s the Driving Age in New Mexico?

Teens as young as 15 can practice under supervision on the roads of New Mexico, and earn unrestricted driving privileges a year and a half later.
Written by Jasmine Kanter
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
New Mexico’s
Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) system, junior drivers can begin learning the roads at 15, take a road test at 15½, and enjoy unrestricted driving privileges as early as 16½ years old.
Driving is an essential skill in the modern age, but it also comes with its fair share of responsibilities. Besides keeping you and your passengers safe, you’ll need to keep an eye out for pedestrians, cyclists, and fellow motorists.
That’s why drivers 18 years of age or younger are required to pass the GDL. Follow the rules and you’ll earn your freedom sooner than you think!

What’s the minimum driving age in New Mexico?

Aspiring drivers must be 15 years old or more to apply for an instructional permit in New Mexico. After six months of supervised driving practice, you can then move on to a road test and provisional permit.
Prove yourself on the road and you can apply for an unrestricted driver’s license in one year.

What’s New Mexico’s Graduated Drivers License (GDL) system?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shined a sobering light on the dangers of the road in a recent report: every day,
nearly seven young drivers die in car accidents
Teens between 15 and 19 years of age are almost three times as likely to be involved in a fatal crash. The main dangers for this age group are inexperience and risky behavior.
In 2000, New Mexico passed the Graduated Driver’s Licensing (GDL) Law, which is designed to limit teen exposure to dangerous driving situations. Young drivers are required to work through three stages of driving instruction, each with different restrictions: 

How to get your instructional permit in New Mexico

Driving privileges are licensed by the
New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division (MVD)
, starting with an instructional permit. As its name suggests, it allows young drivers to practice their road skills under supervision.
Here’s what you need to do to get your hands on the steering wheel:
  • Enroll in one of the
    driver education schools
    licensed and certified by the Traffic Safety Bureau
  • Visit
    your local MVD office
    with a parent or guardian
  • Bring one proof of age and identity and two
    proofs of residency
    from the list of approved documents, plus a
    New Mexico REAL ID
  • Present either a certificate of completion (from an approved driver education course) or an instructional permit referral card, both of which are provided by your driver education school
  • Complete an application, which requires your parent or guardian to accept financial responsibility for your driving
  • Pass a vision test with at least 20/40 vision in one eye, with or without glasses
  • Pass  a knowledge test (if you didn’t already take one through your driver education school)
  • Pay the $10 instructional permit fee
The knowledge test contains 25 questions about the traffic laws of New Mexico. All the answers you need are within the
MVD driver’s manual
—check out the free practice test app from the
App Store
Google Play
to take a quiz on your phone.
If you fail, you can retake the test once in the same week, even on the same day.

Instructional permit restrictions and purpose

A New Mexico instructional permit allows you to practice supervised driving for at least six months in preparation for a road test.
  • You’ll need to log at least 50 hours of driving (10 at night) supervised by an adult 21 years of age or older who has held a full, valid driver’s license for at least three years
  • Besides your supervisor, you won’t be allowed any passengers
Needless to say, don’t touch any alcohol, drugs, or
distracting devices
while behind the wheel, and always wear your seatbelt!

How to get your provisional license in New Mexico

A provisional license is the next step toward a full driver’s license; it increases your driving privileges while easing restrictions. The earliest you can apply is six months after receiving an instructional permit, making your minimum age 15½.
Here are the steps to upgrading your permit:
  • Book an appointment with an MVD office
    with your parent or guardian
  • Present an instructional permit that you’ve held for at least six months
  • Present a certificate of course completion from an approved driver education school
  • Present a
    completed GDL log
    showing 50 hours of supervised driving practice, including 10 hours at night
  • Complete an application, including a signature from your parent or guardian
  • Bring a safe, registered, and fully-insured vehicle 
  • Pass a road test (if you didn’t already take one through your driver education school)
  • Pay the $18 provisional license fee
During the road test, you’ll be graded by an examiner on essential driving skills like observing traffic laws, signaling, parking, and reversing. Make sure to arrive 15 minutes early for your appointment so you have time to organize your documents and check your vehicle. If you fail, practice a little more while you wait at least one week to retake the test.
If you passed, congratulations! You now hold a New Mexico provisional driver’s license.
Key Takeaway Practice and log at least 50 hours of supervised driving before taking your road test, which evaluates essential driving skills, and you’ll have no trouble earning a provisional license.

Provisional license restrictions and purpose

A provisional license rewards you with unsupervised driving privileges but limits night driving and passengers while you continue practicing for one year.
  • You can’t drive between 12:00 AM and 5:00 AM unless accompanied by a supervisor
  • Supervision is required if you want to ferry more than one passenger under the age of 21 who isn’t an immediate family member
If you’re driving to fulfill family or medical needs, carry a signed statement from your guardian and/or doctor. Driving to and from work? Make it a statement from your employer.
Educational and religious activities are permitted with an official sign-off on them.
Finally, keep your cool during medical emergencies while driving, explain your reasons, and you should be in the clear.

When can you get an unrestricted driver’s license in New Mexico?

Keep your driving record free of traffic violations and drug or alcohol-related offenses for one year with a provisional license and you’ll be eligible for an unrestricted driver’s license. It removes any limitations related to supervision, time of day, and passengers — drive where you want, whenever you want, with whoever you want!
Congrats for outgrowing the GDL, but just remember: safe driving is a lifelong process.


If your license was suspended or revoked and isn’t yet
eligible for reinstatement
, New Mexico offers
two hardship licenses
with limited driving privileges.
  • A limited liability license allows the owner to attend specific activities on certain days and during certain times. However, drivers whose licenses were suspended for intoxicated driving, nonpayment of child support, or causing an accident that resulted in death or bodily harm are ineligible.
  • An ignition interlock license is available for drivers whose licenses were suspended due to a DWI conviction. It requires the installation of an ignition interlock device on their vehicle, plus proof of ID, proof of insurance,
    form MVD-10456
    , and a $63 reinstatement fee.
“All of the insurance quotes I saw were over $600 a month because of my age. Then I stumbled upon
, and they sliced my price in half! They found me the lowest rate, thank goodness.” —Will V. 
Compare auto insurance policies
No spam or unwanted phone calls · No long forms
Find insurance savings


Yes! You can get an instructional permit at 15, a provisional permit at 15½, and an unrestricted driver’s license by 16½.
Yes. If you complete all tests, programs, and practice on time, you could earn an unrestricted New Mexico driver’s license by the time you’re 16½.
Are you overpaying for car insurance?
Compare quotes and find out in 45 seconds.
Try Jerry

Easiest way to compare and buy car insurance

No long forms
No spam or unwanted phone calls
Quotes from top insurance companies
Find insurance savings