Don't Drive Without a License in NM – Here Are the Consequences

Posted by Impact Legal | Jan 13, 2023

If you're caught driving with no license in New Mexico, you could be handed some serious consequences. In this article, we'll discuss driving with no license in New Mexico, associated potential charges, and how it might impact a car accident claim. 

If you've been injured in an accident due to someone's negligent or intentional misconduct, speak with an injury lawyer today. Even if you were driving with no license when the accident happened, you may still be entitled to legal compensation to pay for your accident-related losses. To schedule your free initial case review with Impact Legal's car accident lawyers, call or text 602-345-1818 or fill out our online contact form here

The Penalties For Driving With No License

New Mexico law prohibits driving with no license. NMSA 1978, § 66-5-2. The statute states:

66-5-2. Drivers must be licensed.

  1.     Except those expressly exempted from the Motor Vehicle Code [66-1-1 NMSA 1978], no person shall drive any motor vehicle or moped upon a highway in this state unless he:   
  • (1)     holds a valid license issued under the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Code; and   
  • (2)     has surrendered to the division any other license previously issued to him by this state or by another state or country or has filed an affidavit with the division that he does not possess such other license; however, the applicant need not surrender a motorcycle license duly obtained under Paragraph (3) [(4)] of Subsection A of Section 66-5-5 NMSA 1978.   
  1.     Any person licensed under the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Code [66-1-1 NMSA 1978] or expressly exempted from licensure may exercise the privilege granted upon all streets and highways in this state and shall not be required to obtain any other license to exercise the privilege by any county, municipality or any other local body having authority to adopt local police regulations.

When You Have a Valid License in New Mexico

If you are stopped or in an accident and are unable to produce your valid license, you could be charged with a misdemeanor, face jail time, and/or be fined. In the case that you forgot your license before getting into your car, if you bring your license to court and it was valid at the time you were given the citation, you will not be charged. 

When Your License Is Suspended or Revoked

If you get behind the wheel with a suspended or revoked license and are pulled over, be prepared to face criminal charges and penalties in New Mexico. NMSA 1978, § 66-5-39 lists penalties for driving with a revoked license as a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail sentence of up to 364 days. Driving with a suspended license can come with a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and up to a $300 fine. You can also expect your license suspension to be extended. Revocation or suspension of your license due to DUI may come with increased consequences.

If You're in an Accident With No License

While driving without a license is illegal, if you're in an accident, it won't stop you from filing a claim to pay for damages. The fact that you had no license will be treated as a separate issue. The at-fault party or parties will still be responsible for the damages and injuries the wreck caused. Additionally, driving without a license doesn't automatically make you liable for the accident; your car accident will be treated as a separate issue from your citation for driving with no license.

Is an Unlicensed Driver Automatically Liable?

No, an unlicensed driver is not automatically liable for an accident. New Mexico follows a fault-based system, which means that liability will depend on who the negligent party was, and that party or parties will be responsible for paying for the damages they caused. Sometimes, however, the at-fault party will be the unlicensed driver, and he or she can either hold complete liability for the accident or share liability, depending on the specific situation. When fault is shared, liability is divided among the responsible parties based on the percentage of fault each is determined to have contributed to the accident. Each party's settlement will also be reduced by the amount of fault they played in the incident. Unfortunately, many times, an unlicensed driver will be uninsured.

In an Accident Without a License? Talk to a Lawyer

If you were in an accident without a license or in an accident with an unlicensed or uninsured driver, call or text our car accident lawyers today to schedule a free initial consultation where we will review your case and provide you with specific information based on your legal circumstances. Contact us at 602-345-1818 or fill out this online contact form, and we will reach out to you. 

Read about accidents with uninsured motorists here

The information on our blog and website is for general informational purposes only, and it is not intended to serve as legal advice. For legal advice about your unique situation, call or text our car accident lawyers today. 

We are located in Arizona and New Mexico. We serve clients in Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa, Scottsdale, Glendale, Peoria, Maricopa, and the entire state of Arizona. We also serve clients in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Roswell, Farmington, Los Alamos, Las Cruces, and the entire state of New Mexico.

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