Commercial Driver’s License Requirements in New Mexico

Road accident with damage to vehicles as a result of a collision between a semi truck with box trailer and a carTrucking companies and their drivers may complain that their industry is one of the most heavily regulated in the U.S., but without these laws, the average motorist would be much less safe on New Mexico’s highways. Even with the regulations, over 100,000 people were injured and nearly 3,300 were killed in big rig collisions in 2016 across the country, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association. While liability is investigated in every truck crash, when a trucker or his employer violates one of these state or federal regulations, the fault clearly lies with them, not the victim. Learn about the requirements a truck driver in New Mexico must meet before he can drive a commercial vehicle in the state to protect your recovery following a collision with a commercial truck.

New Mexico Commercial Driver’s License

New Mexico requires drivers of commercial trucks to obtain a special license, called a commercial driver’s license (CDL). This is the state’s primary method of ensuring that semi-truck drivers have the skills, knowledge, and general health condition required to operate a commercial vehicle. While formal training is not required to apply for a CDL, the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) recommends it. To obtain a CDL in New Mexico, drivers must do the following:

  • Pass a written test. Every driver must pass a general knowledge test. In addition, an air brakes test, combination vehicles test, hazardous materials test, tank vehicle test, and double/triple trailer test must be passed by drivers who will be driving those types of vehicles.
  • Pass a skills test. Once the knowledge tests are passed, the driver must take three separate skills tests. The vehicle inspection test requires drivers to show that they are able to inspect the truck they will be driving for safety violations. The basic vehicle control test is conducted on a closed course to demonstrate basic maneuvers. Finally, drivers are required to take a road test with a CDL examiner.
  • Obtain a Medical Examiner’s Certificate. Applicants for a CDL must be able to prove that they are in good health by undergoing a medical exam conducted by a certified examiner and presenting the certificate to the MVD.
  • Submit to a background check if handling hazardous materials. Drivers who are seeking a hazardous materials endorsement must be fingerprinted and pass a criminal background check.

Applicants for a CDL may be disqualified for a variety of reasons, including the following:

  • DUI convictions
  • Committing a felony while operating a commercial motor vehicle
  • Serious traffic violations in a personal vehicle
  • Driving a commercial vehicle with an expired CDL

Through this licensing process, the state of New Mexico tries to control who is behind these potentially hazardous vehicles; however, drivers and their employers violate the CDL requirement and drive without a license or with an expired license. If one of these drivers is involved in an accident, he should be held liable for any damages.

James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller