Chapter 5, Section A:
Commercial Driver's License (CDL) -
General Information and Statutes


Revised August 14, 2013


The federal Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 was signed into law on October 27,1986. The act retained the state's right to issue a driver license, but established minimum national standards, which New Mexico must meet when licensing drivers of commercial motor vehicles.

It is illegal for a commercial license holder to possess more than one commercial license.

This program is audited and monitored by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) in Washington, DC. The New Mexico Office of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) audits our program every year to determine if we are complying with all of the federal mandates. For New Mexico to continue participating in the commercial driver license program, we must be able to demonstrate that we run every 1st time and renewal commercial applicant through CDLIS and PDPS.

Sec. 65-3-7 NMSA 1978, Qualifications of Drivers

A person shall not drive a motor vehicle unless he is qualified to drive a motor vehicle, and a motor carrier shall not require or permit a person to drive a motor vehicle unless that person is qualified to drive a motor vehicle.

A person is qualified to drive a commercial motor carrier vehicle if he:

  • is at least 21 years old,or
  • is at least 18 years old anddrives only within the boundaries of the state of New Mexico;
  • is physically qualified to drive a motor vehicle;
  • is not disqualified from driving a motor vehicle;
  • has been issued a current valid motor vehicle operator's license or permit of the proper class for the vehicle he is driving;
  • can, by reason of experience, training, or both, safely operate the type of motor vehicle he drives; and
  • can, by reason of experience, training, or both, determine whether the cargo he transports is properly located, distributed and secured in or on the motor vehicle he drives.

Sec. 66-5-59 NMSA 1978, Commercial Driver License Required

A person may not drive a commercial motor vehicle unless the person holds and is in immediate possession of a commercial driver's license and applicable endorsements valid for the vehicle the person is driving, except when driving under a commercial driver's instruction permit and accompanied by the holder of a commercial driver's license valid for the vehicle being driven.

A person may not drive a commercial motor vehicle while the person's driving privilege is suspended, revoked or canceled or while subject to a disqualification or in violation of an out-of-service order.

A person who is a resident of this state for at least 30 days may not drive a commercial motor vehicle under the authority of a commercial driver's license issued by another jurisdiction.

A person may not drive a commercial motor vehicle in violation of an out-of-service order.

Note: An "out-of-service order" is a declaration by an authorized enforcement officer of a federal, state, Canadian, Mexican or local jurisdiction that a driver, a commercial motor vehicle or a motor carrier operation is temporarily prohibited from operating.

Sec. 66-5-60 NMSA 1978, CDL - Qualifications and Standards

The division may not issue a commercial driver license to a person unless that person is a resident of New Mexico and has passed a knowledge and skills test for driving a commercial motor vehicle and for related endorsements and has satisfied any other requirements of the New Mexico Commercial Driver License Act (66-5-52 to 66-5-70 NMSA 1978).

Sec. 66-5-61 NMSA 1978, CDL - Limitations on Issuance

A commercial driver's license may not be issued to a person while the person is subject to a disqualification from driving a commercial motor vehicle or while the person's driver's license is suspended, revoked or canceled in any state, nor may a commercial driver's license be issued to a person who has a CDL issued by any other state unless the person first surrenders all such licenses to the division.

MVD procedures require that, when a prior CDL is surrendered (whether in- or out-of-state and whether renewal or replacement), one hole is punched through the old license, and the hole-punched card is returned to the customer with his or her new license (PQU#60). If a driver is obtaining a CDL permit (i.e. new or for upgrade), do not invalidate his current license as this is needed in addition to the CDL permit.