Truckers Must Have a Valid CDL When Operating Their Rigs in New Mexico

Trucking 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, Do You Know the Requirements of a Valid CDL?according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association. While liability is investigated in every truck crash, when a trucker or his employer violated one of these state or federal regulations, 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

Like other states, 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 the wheel of these potentially very dangerous vehicles; however, drivers and their employers do 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.

Keller & Keller Leave No Stone Unturned

When a commercial semi-truck is involved in a serious collision, the company that owns the truck will likely have a team of lawyers prepared to defend themselves against charges of liability, even if the driver is clearly at fault. These vehicles are required to carry million-dollar insurance policies, so there is a lot of money at stake. If you are the victim of a semi-truck crash in New Mexico, our Albuquerque attorneys will thoroughly investigate your crash to determine the cause, including pulling the driver’s CDL and driving record to look for any violations. If the driver has an expired license, has failed a medical exam, has a serious traffic conviction on their personal driving record, or has any other violations, our attorneys will use that to support your claim for compensation.

Contact us for a free consultation in our Albuquerque office when you have been involved in a New Mexico truck crash. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you won’t owe us a fee until we collect for you.


James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller