New Mexico Learner’s Permit: A First-Time Driver Guide

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New Mexico provides miles of open road, so it’s no wonder a teen can’t wait to start driving! Before they can get on the road, teens need to apply and pass New Mexico learner’s permit requirements.

The learner’s permit is part of the state’s graduated licensing program.

This program helps new drivers ease into driving through testing and practice. After the permit, teens can upgrade to an intermediate license – these eventually become an adult, unrestricted license.

This post shares what items teens need to present and how the steps required for earning their license.

Applying for a New Mexico Driving Permit

Teens can begin applying for their learner’s permit when they turn 15 years old.

Before then, anyone under 18 needs to complete a driver’s education course before applying.

The driver’s education course consists of a classroom or online instruction. Plus, behind-the-wheel experience with an approved instructor. Check online for an NM driver’s education program for your needs if you’ve yet to take one and apply sooner than later if you want to start driving early!

First-time drivers apply in-person at a New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) office.

At the DMV teens will:

  1. Submit a learner’s permit application form signed by a parent or guardian
  2. Submit a certificate of driver education enrollment
  3. Show proofs:
    1. Identification
    2. Social Security number
    3. NM residency
  4. Pass your tests:
    1. Vision
    2. Knowledge
  5. Pay the $10 permit fee

The knowledge test is a multiple-choice test about traffic rules, signs, signals, safety, and drug/alcohol awareness. Teens can refer to their driving manual to study for the test. Else, they can use online NM knowledge tests to get an understanding of the topics.

You must get at least 80% correct on this written test to pass.

Note: Some driving education programs include the written test. If so, you can submit your passing score to the MVD to skip the written test. Else, some schools will distribute permits upon passing.

The Essential Behind-the-Wheel Experience

The state expects you to gain 50 hours of driving practice before you upgrade to a provisional. This includes at least 10 hours of nighttime driving out of the 50 total hours. A licensed instructor or driver over 21 (having held their license for at least 3 years) must accompany you during the practice.

Upgrading the New Mexico Learner’s Permit into a Provisional License

Teens must meet these requirements before they can apply for their provisional license:

  • Be at least 15 ½ years old
  • Hold the permit for at least 6-months
  • Have completed a driver’s ed course
  • Completed 50-hours of driving practice (with 10-hours at night)
  • Do not have any traffic violations within 90-days of when they plan to upgrade

When ready, see our New Mexico Provisional License Guide to upgrade your learner’s permit.