Montana Speeding Laws

In addition to absolute speed limits (see below), Montana's "basic speed law" provides that a person shall operate a vehicle in a careful and prudent manner and at a reduced rate of speed no greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions existing at the point of operation, taking into account the amount and character of traffic, visibility, weather and roadway conditions. (Mont. Code Ann.§ 61-8-303(4) (2017).)

Penalty for Exceeding Speed Limit

A first time speeding violator may be:

  • fined between $10 and $100, and
  • the violator’s license may be suspended six months.

Penalty for Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is defined as driving “in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Generally, a first offense carries up to 90 days in jail and/or $25 to $300 in fines. (Mont. Code Ann. §§ 61-8-301(1), 61-8-715 (2017).) 

(Read more about Montana's reckless driving laws and penalties.)

Montana Speed Limits

Montana's absolute speed limits are:

  • 75 miles per hour at all times on federal-aid interstate highways outside an urbanized area with population more than 50,000
  • 65 miles per hour at all times on federal-aid interstate highways within an urbanized area with a population more than 50,000
  • 70 miles per hour during the daytime and 65 miles per hour during the nighttime on any other public highway
  • 65 miles per hour at all times on U.S. Highway 93 between the Canadian and Idaho borders, unless the highway is upgraded to a continuous four-lane highway, and
  • 25 miles per hour in an urban district.

Montana Speeding Laws

Montana has what is known as an “absolute” speed limit law. There is no trick to how this works: If the sign says 40 miles per hour and you drive 41 miles per hour or more, you have violated the law. In other words, you are guilty if you drive over the speed limit. In Montana you may be able to make three possible defenses:

  • attacking the officer’s determination of your speed (to do this you must discover what method the officer used to cite you and then learn about the ways to attack that particular method)
  • claiming an emergency forced you to exceed the speed limit to avoid serious damage or injury to yourself or others, and
  • claiming that the officer mistook your car for another car (with so many similar-looking cars, it is possible that a cop could see a speeding car, lose sight of it around a corner, and then wrongly pick out your car farther down the road).

Note that in Montana you can be ticketed for driving at an unsafe speed, even if that speed does not violate the posted limit—for example, driving exactly at the maximum posted limit on the freeway amidst slower and heavy traffic, in a dense fog, or in a driving rainstorm or blizzard.

Point System

An offender who accumulates six points within 18 months may be required to attend a counseling session or be subject to license re-examination. If an offender accumulates 15 or more points within 36 months, there's a six-month license suspension and participation in a Driver Rehabilitation Program is required.

(Read more about the details of Montana's traffic violation point system, including the point values for different violations.)

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