Montana requires teens to hold a learner’s license before obtaining a driver’s license and imposes certain age-related restrictions and requirements on teens with licenses.
Generally, a minor must be at least 16 years old to apply for a learner license. However, teens who are at least 14 ½ years old and are enrolled in or have graduated from an approved traffic education course can apply for a learners license. The application also requires:
Applications can be denied for mental or physical disabilities or for a history of drug and alcohol usage. The applicant must pass the vision test as well as a test covering local traffic signs and traffic laws.
An instructional permit is valid for one year and permits the holder to operate a vehicle under the supervision of a parent or guardian. The parent or guardian can also grant supervision authority to a licensed driver who’s at least 18 years old.
Approved traffic education course providers are authorized to issue traffic education permits, which permits the driver to operate in a designated area under the supervision of the licensed instructor. A traffic education permit can be issued only to teens who will turn 15 years old within six months of completing the traffic education course.
Teens who are 16 years old (or 15 years old if a traffic education course is completed) and have held a learner’s permit for six months can apply for a driver’s license. The teen’s parent or guardian must certify that no traffic infractions or alcohol- or drug-related offenses have occurred within the last six months. The parent or guardian must also certify that the teen has completed at least 50 hours of supervised driving time (including ten nighttime hours). For the first year of issuance, the licensee will be subject to certain restrictions.
Curfew. For the first year, minor license holders are not permitted to drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless driving:
First six months. For the first six months, minor license holders are permitted to carry only one non-family member passenger under 18 years old. This restriction is waived if the teen driver is supervised by a licensed driver who’s at least 18 years old.
Second six months. For the second six months of the one-year restriction period, minor license holders can carry up to three minor passengers. Again, this restriction doesn’t apply if the driver is supervised by a licensed driver who’s at least 18 years old or if the minor passengers are immediately related to the teen driver.
For the first year, all passengers and drivers must wear seatbelts.
Violations. Violating any of the first-year restrictions will result in 20 to 60 hours of community service. A second or subsequent offense will result in a six-month license suspension.
Before any driver can lawfully operate a vehicle in Montana, the vehicle must be properly insured. In Montana, the mandatory insurance requirements include at least $25,000 bodily injury per person, $50,000 bodily injury per accident, and $20,000 property damage per accident.
Driving without valid insurance will result in a $250 to $500 fine. A second offense within a five-year period carries a $350 fine and also requires the driver to surrender of the vehicle’s license plates and registration. The registration can be reinstated by paying a fee and showing proof of valid insurance, but the registration will be restricted for the first 90 days (meaning it can only be driven to and from employment).
A third or subsequent offense in five years carries a $500 fine and/or up to ten days in jail as well as the surrender of the license plates and registration. The registration can be reinstated by paying a fee and showing proof of valid insurance, but the registration will be restricted for the first 180 days. A fourth offense in five years will also include driver’s license suspension until proof of insurance is shown.