Driving Without a License in Montana

What does it mean to drive while your license is expired, revoked, suspended or cancelled in Montana?

What does it mean to “drive without a license” in Montana?

Driving without a license can refer to three scenarios. You’re stopped for an offense and:

  • You have a license but it’s not in your possession. In other words, you were licensed to drive but lacked proof, an infraction that may be dismissed once you can prove that you possessed a valid license at the time of the incident.  (Note: you may have to pay a fine.)
  • You never applied for a license (or your license expired). Montana Code § 61-5-102 states that, “a person may not drive a motor vehicle upon a highway in this state unless the person has a valid Montana driver's license.” For first time offenders, this offense is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and a maximum of six months jail time.
  • Your license was cancelled, revoked or suspended by the authorities. For first time offenders, this offense is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and a maximum of six months jail time.

Who doesn’t have to have a valid Montana driver’s license?

Montana exempts the following persons from having to possess a valid Montana license:

  • a person who is a member of the armed forces of the United States while operating a motor vehicle owned by or leased to the United States government and being operated on official business;
  • a person who is a member of the armed forces of the United States on active duty in Montana who holds a valid license issued by another state and the spouse of the person who holds a valid license issued by another state and who is not employed in Montana, except as a member of the armed forces. If a spouse of a member of the armed forces becomes gainfully employed in Montana, the spouse must be licensed, as required by 61-5-102, within 90 days of becoming employed.
  • a person on active duty in the armed forces of the United States and in immediate possession of a valid license issued to that person in a foreign country by the armed forces of the United States, for a period of 45 days from the date of the person's return to the United States;
  • a person who temporarily drives, operates, or moves a road machine, farm tractor, as defined in 61-9-102, or implement of husbandry for use in intrastate commerce on a highway;
  • a person who is a locomotive engineer, assistant engineer, conductor, brake tender, railroad utility person, or other member of the crew of a railroad locomotive or train being operated upon rails, including operation on a railroad crossing a public street, road, or highway. A person employed as described in this subsection is not required to display a driver's license to a law enforcement officer in connection with the operation of a railroad train within Montana.

How do you fight the charge?

Fighting a “driving without a license charge” can be difficult.  Once the district attorney or prosecutor alleges that you drove without a valid license, the burden of proof is on you to prove that you did possess a valid driver’s license at the time of your offense. If you don’t have evidence of a license, you lose! Depending on your circumstances, you may benefit from the advice or negotiating skills of an attorney.

Can an undocumented immigrant obtain a driver’s license in Montana?

An undocumented immigrant is not permitted to obtain a driver's license in Montana.

 

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