New Mexico Provisional License

A New Mexico provisional license is the second step in the state’s three-stage licensing system for new drivers under the age of 18 years old. Read on to learn more about the licensing process.
Written by Talullah Blanco
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
New Mexico
provisional license is the second step in the state’s three-stage licensing system for new drivers under 18 years old. Drivers with learner’s permits must be at least 15 years and 6 months of age and successfully complete stage one of the New Mexico Graduated Licensing System to be eligible for a provisional license.
Finally getting your unrestricted driver’s license is an exciting accomplishment for any young teen, but there are a lot of steps you have to complete before you get there. On top of learning about the driving laws in your state and signing up for your first
car insurance policy
, you’ll likely have to complete a three-stage licensing process starting with a learner’s permit, then comes the provisional license, and ending with a graduated license.
Bringing you that much closer to an unrestricted license, a provisional license is the second stage in the graduated licensing process and comes with its own set of state-specific requirements and restrictions you must follow. In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about the New Mexico provisional license—from what it is to how to get one and what you can do while driving with one.

What is a provisional driver’s license in New Mexico?

A New Mexico provisional driver’s license is the second stage in the state’s graduated licensing system (GLS) before a new driver can get their full
New Mexico driver’s license
There are three stages of licensing new drivers under the age of 18 years old must complete to get an unrestricted driver’s license in New Mexico:
New Mexico drivers as young as the age of 15 years old can get a driver’s permit if they’re enrolled in a state-approved driver education program.
The minimum age required for a New Mexico provisional license is 15 years and six months, but you must have held your instructional permit for at least six months. During this six-month period, you must complete the following to be eligible for a provisional license:
  • Complete an approved New Mexico motor vehicle department (MVD) driver education program that includes a three-hour DWI component. 
  • Pass the MVD Knowledge Exam and Road Skills Exam administered by an MVD contracted driver education school.
  • Log 50 hours of supervised driving practice with a qualified driver, 10 of which must be at night. To be a qualified supervisor, the driver must be at least 21 years and be licensed for a minimum of three years. 
  • Maintain a
    clean driving record
    for 90 days before the provisional license application. 
  • Not drink and drive. Even barely one drink (.2 percent concentration of alcohol) could result in a six-month license suspension for drivers under 21 years of age.
During the six-month period, the instructional permit driver must also take and pass a driving skills test through an MVD contracted driver education school or at the MVD field office. 
The MVD Road Skills Exam will consist of two parts:
  • A pre-test portion that shows you know how to use your vehicle’s basic functions such as turning on your headlights and hazard lights, adjusting your mirrors and activating your parking brake
  • 15 minutes of driving in regular traffic on a predetermined route. During the second portion of the exam, the driver will be expected to perform right and left turns, navigate intersections controlled by traffic lights and stop signs, parallel park, perform lane changes, and other common driving maneuvers. 
After these requirements have been fulfilled, you must bring your certificate of completion from an approved driver education program, completed practice driving log signed by a parent or guardian, and New Mexico instructional permit to the
New Mexico MVD
to apply for a provisional license.

What are the age requirements for a New Mexico provisional driver’s license?

Drivers must be at least 15 years and 6 months to be eligible to apply for their provisional driver’s license, as long as they’ve met all the other requirements detailed above.
New drivers 18 years and older are not required to go through all three stages of the New Mexico GLS program and can apply for a full driver’s license once they’ve taken and passed an MVD knowledge and road skills exam with an approved driver education school and completed a
None for the Road
self study DWI awareness course.

How long is a provisional license in New Mexico?

Drivers must hold their provisional license for at least 12 months before graduating to a full New Mexico driver’s license. During this waiting period, drivers must remain free of any
DWI convictions
The driver can’t have been convicted of a traffic violation 90 days before they apply or have any pending traffic violations at the time of the application for a full drivers license. 

What are the rules for driving with a provisional license in New Mexico?

New Mexico drivers with a provisional license are allowed to drive unsupervised with certain restrictions. When it comes to seat belt usage, distracted driving, and other traffic violations, provisional licensees are held to extremely high standards.
  • For every traffic violation committed while holding a provisional license, the 12-month waiting period for full license will be extended by 30 days for each offense
  • Depending on the number of traffic offenses, you could double your provisional license waiting period
If you're caught drinking while operating a vehicle, you could be subject to a six-month
license suspension
for drivers under 21 along with additional court sanctions

What are the restrictions for a provisional license?

Drivers who have a provisional license in their immediate possession can operate a vehicle on public highways with the following restrictions:
  • Can’t drive with more than one passenger under the age of 21 unless they are an immediate family member
  • Can’t drive between the hours of midnight and 5 am
If you’re accompanied by a licensed driver who is 21 years of age or older, these restrictions don’t apply. Provisional license drivers can also break curfew under the following circumstances:
  • Our of family necessity 
  • Required due to a medical emergency
  • Driving to and from work 
  • To attend school or religious related event 
Beware: you’ll need a signed statement from a parent or guardian, medical personnel, employer, or teacher to legally break curfew as a provisional license holder.

How do I change my New Mexico provisional license to a full license?

New drivers that have held their provisional license for the appropriate waiting period without any drug or alcohol related convictions are eligible to graduate to a full drivers license in New Mexico—so long as they haven’t been convicted of a traffic violation 90 days preceding the application or have pending violations at the time of the application.
To review: Most new drivers are required to hold their provisional license for 12 months, conviction free. This required waiting period extends an extra 30 days for each traffic violation committed while holding a provisional license. 
Once you’ve completed your minimum waiting time requirements, you must complete and sign a driver's license application and pay a licensing fee—that’s $18 for a four-year license or $34 for an eight year license—at your local
MVD field office
. If the teen is younger than 18 years old, both the teen and parent will have to sign the full license application.
That’s it! After you’ve signed the full license application and paid the licensing fee, you’ll receive a temporary paper copy of your New Mexico driver’s license at the MVD and the hard copy in the mail within 90 days.
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