montana driving information
Most drivers know about Montana's rich wildlife, beautiful mountain landscapes, and pioneering spirit. But fewer drivers know about Montana's penalty point system and graduated licensing program. Our guide to Montana's rules of the road is here to fill in the gaps.
Montana driver information
Number of licensed drivers: 738,000
Registered vehicles: 925,000
Licensing and registration authority: Montana Motor Vehicle Division
Average commuting time: 16.8 minutes (national average: 25.1 minutes)
Driving record points, DUIs, and car accidents in Montana
The state of Montana can apply 2–15 penalty points to your driving record for certain convictions. The more serious the violation, the higher the point value. A DUI conviction adds 10 points, for example, while speeding adds 3 points.
Drivers who accrue 30 points within 3 years could lose driving privileges for 3 years.
How long points stay on driving record
Traffic violation points stay on a driving record for 3 years. After 3 years, the points are removed but the convictions remain on your permanent driving record. Montana doesn't allow insurers to factor incidents that are more than 3 years old into a driver's car insurance rate.
DUIs in Montana
Although any driver with a BAC of 0.08 percent in Montana could be convicted for driving under the influence, driving with a BAC of at least 0.04 percent (or 0.02 percent for drivers under 21) could also result in a DUI.
First-time convictions lead to penalties that can include a minimum of 24 hours in jail and a fine of at least $300. Maximum penalties include 6 months in jail and a fine of $1,000.
Drivers with a BAC of 0.16 percent or higher may need to install an alcohol ignition interlock device in their vehicles.
Montana currently doesn't have any bans regarding distracted driving, but that's not to say it's a good idea.
Find out why distracted driving is so risky.
A drivers license is required for anyone who drives a motor vehicle in the state of Montana. Driving without a license can add 2 points to a driving record, among other penalties.
Driving while a license is suspended or revoked license carries a minimum 2-day jail sentence, 30-day vehicle impoundment, up to $500 in fines, and an additional one-year suspension of driving privileges.
Reporting car accidents in Montana
Accidents that result in injuries or $500 or more in property damage should be reported to the local police department. If an accident results in injuries or $1,000 or more in property damage, it also needs to be reported to the Highway Patrol within 10 days of the accident.
If you reside in another state and are involved in a car accident or commit a driving offense in Montana, the incident record will be sent along to your home state.
Stolen cars in Montana
According to a recent National Insurance Crime Bureau report, most Montana car thefts occurred in Billings, with 367 reported thefts in 2011. Missoula reported 122 and Great Falls had 112 stolen cars.
Most frequently stolen vehicles in Montana in 2011
- 1997 Chevrolet Pickup (full size)
- 2000 Ford Pickup (full size)
- 2005 Dodge Pickup (full size)
- 1994 Honda Accord
- 1997 Ford Explorer
- 2003 Subaru Legacy
- 1999 GMC Pickup (full size)
- 1991 Ford Taurus
- 2000 Honda Civic
- 2000 Chevrolet Pickup (small size)
Comprehensive coverage, which isn't legally required, offers financial protection in case your car is stolen.
Moving to Montana
After becoming a resident, you have 60 days to get your Montana drivers license. If your current out-of-state license is valid, you can exchange it for a Montana license without taking the knowledge or driving tests.
Drivers in the military
Active members of the military stationed in Montana and their dependents can keep their out-of-state licenses unless they become employed in the state of Montana. Military personnel can also apply for a military extension for renewal, which is valid for 30 days after honorable discharge.
Motorcycles in Montana
If you want to drive a motorcycle in Montana, you need a motorcycle endorsement. Along with having a basic drivers license, you'll need to pass a knowledge test or an approved Montana Motorcycle Safety Foundation course.
Young driver requirements
Montana has a graduated licensing program for its youngest drivers. It involves a permit, a first-year restricted license, and finally, an unrestricted drivers license.
- Minimum permit age: 14½ years old
- Teens may obtain a permit as early as 14½ if they are taking a state-approved drivers ed course — otherwise they can get a permit at 16
- To get a permit, teens must pass a drivers license test
- Teens must complete 50 supervised driving hours, 10 of which must be at night, during this stage
- Drivers must hold their permits for 6 months before applying for a first-year restricted license
- Minimum first-year restricted license age: 15 years old
- Teens must complete the minimum permit requirements and pay all associated fees
- Drivers with a first-year restricted license may not drive between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. for the first year unless it's for a parent-authorized purpose
- For the first 6 months, unsupervised drivers may not travel with more than one non-family passenger who's under 18
- For the second 6 months, unsupervised drivers may carry 3 non-family passengers who are under 18
- Minimum full privilege drivers license age: 16 years old
- Restricted drivers licenses automatically convert to full drivers licenses after a year or when the driver turns 18
Montana car insurance info
Our insurance fact sheet has info on state coverage requirements and possible money-saving discounts.
Montana Motor Vehicle Division
Visit the Montana Motor Vehicle Division site for licensing and registration info.
Montana's official driving manual (PDF)
All the rules of the road to keep you safe in Montana.