- Location: New Mexico
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Like many states, New Mexico has a graduated licensing program. So if you thought that you lived in the only state that made young drivers wait before getting full driving privileges, think again―the fact is you're not alone.
Graduated licensing programs are becoming more and more popular as statistics continue to reveal that they actually do cut down on accidents involving teen drivers. This is because of the strict emphasis put on skill building and gaining behind-the-wheel experience.
No more can you simply get a permit and a week later, when you turn 16, get your license and take to the road. Now the process is a bit more involved, and ultimately more rational. In New Mexico, the graduated licensing program stages can be broken down into three parts.
Stage One: Instructional Permit
- You must be at least 15 years old and be able to prove it with a birth certificate.
- You must have either finished, be attending, or have signed up for an authorized driver education program. This can be with a private company licensed by the state, or it can be an old-fashioned high school course.
- Once you get the permit, you must hold it for at least six months. During that time you will need to log 50 hours of drive time, with 10 of those hours being at night. A parent must sign off on the log.
- A qualified instructor or a driver at least age 21, who has had a license for at least three years, must be in the car with you any time you are behind the wheel.
- The permit is $10.
Stage Two: Provisional License
- You need to have had an instructional permit for the six-month minimum and be at least 15 years and six months old to apply.
- You must have successfully completed a driver education course, and logged the necessary practice hours.
- You must present the proper identification when applying at a Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) office.
- If you did not take an on-road driving exam through the driver education course, you will need to take it at this point.
- You must pass a vision test.
- The fee is $18.
In order to qualify, you must not have had any traffic violation convictions during the 90-day period before applying for a provisional license. Once you have the provisional license, there are numerous restrictions:
- You can only drive without supervision between 5 a.m. and midnight unless you meet the necessary exemptions (such as medical emergency, work, or school).
- Only one other person under the age of 21 (minus immediate family members) can tag along for a ride.
- You will need to have this license for at least one year.
Stage Three: Full Driver's License
- You must have held a provisional license for at least one year. If you started the graduated process on the first day you could, this will put you right around 16 years and six months old when you get your full license.
- In order to qualify, you must not have had any traffic violation convictions during the 90-day period before applying for a driver license or have any traffic violations pending.
- Also, you must not have had any guilty judgments or have any offenses pending regarding the use of alcohol or drugs while you held your provisional license.
- The license is $18.
The staff here put together an invaluable list of sensible tips for those new to the road―and it is also a great refresher for anyone with a driver's license. It's just a little friendly advice for new drivers from someone who's been there. They don't teach you everything in school!
- Don't order mega-size drinks at the drive-through. They tip over in the drink holders when you turn or stop, and if you hold the drink between your legs for stability, then you can't operate the floor pedals.
- Don't try to eat a sandwich or burger while you're driving. The mayonnaise-covered tomatoes will fall into your lap and you'll have to make a snap decision between swerving to the curb (bad) or leaving the grease stain on your jeans (bad).
- Don't make or receive calls on your cell phone while you are driving. It's bad karma, everyone else on the road will be irritated with you, and you won't realize you're going too slow and swerving all over the place until you cause an accident. Same goes for applying makeup while driving: just don't!
- Don't under any circumstances send a text message when you're at the wheel. The police officer won't be sympathetic when you explain that you absolutely, positively could not wait until you pulled off the road to text "c u soon" to your best friend, so instead you rear-ended someone while your eyes and thumbs were busy on the keypad.
- Don't be lame and give in to peer pressure. If some nimrod in the back seat says, "How fast can this thing go?" ignore them―they're not the one who will get busted or cause an accident. Someone in the car has to be the grown-up: you.
- Don't panic and jump out of the car if you notice a bee on the inside of the windshield. Ever seen your car roll down the street without a driver? You don't want to.
- Do wear your seatbelt every time you get into a car, even for a short ride. Something as common as stopping suddenly to avoid a cat darting across the street can cause your face to meet your steering wheel. The results won't be pretty, and your prom date will find an excuse to back out.
- Do be vigilant for other drivers who are not as with it as you are, and keep your distance. You never know when they will decide to enter your space (since they won't bother to signal), and the element of surprise isn't as fun on the road as it is at a birthday party.
- Do install a dog barrier in the back of your car before taking Rover for a ride. Rover will want to be in the front seat with you, and trying to swat him back with one hand while steering with the other is a sure way to take out a whole line of parked cars.
- Do obey speed limits so that you will have time to react should an unexpected obstacle (a person, another car, an animal) appear. Besides, no one will believe you got that huge dent going "only 10 miles an hour."
- Do listen to your stereo at a low enough volume that you can hear emergency sirens. Those fire trucks are a lot bigger than you, so you'll want to know one is approaching before it runs you over.
- Do take it easy, pay attention, and take the rules of the road seriously. In a few years when you can honestly say you've never had a ticket or an accident, people will respect you, and it will be an enormous point of pride.
Golden Rules for New Mexico Driving
- Be polite and share the road. You are in a two-ton vehicle; do not let it be an extension of your anger. Despite all your thinking to the contrary, you do not own the road. Others, especially cyclists, have a right be on it. And if you hit them, it will hurt. A bike weighs about 23 pounds.
- Always watch out for pedestrians, especially the little ones.
- Watch out for creatures both big and small. New Mexico is populated with all sorts of wildlife that have a tendency to cross the road at the most inopportune times. So be extra cautious, especially at dusk, in known wildlife areas.
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