Montana has two types of speeding laws: “absolute limits” and a “basic speeding law.” This article explains the differences between the two and the consequences of a speeding violation. However, depending on the situation, a driver might also opt to fight a speeding ticket—drivers who are successful can avoid the penalties.
There is no trick to how Montana’s absolute speed limits work: If the absolute speed limit is 50 miles per hour and you drive faster than that, you’ve violated the law. Unless otherwise posted, the absolute speed limits for most vehicles are:
For purposes of the absolute speed limits, daytime means half an hour before sunrise until half an hour after sunset.
Notwithstanding the absolute limits, Montana’s basic speeding law requires motorists to drive in a “careful and prudent manner” and at a speed no greater than is “reasonable and prudent” under the existing weather, visibility, and other road conditions. In other words, motorists must always drive at a safe speed. What a safe speed is will depend on the circumstances. For instance, 55 miles per hour might be safe on a clear, sunny day. But during a winter storm, 55 miles per hour could be dangerous and a violation of the basic speeding law.
The cost of a speeding ticket in Montana depends on where the violation occurred and by how much the driver exceeded the speed limit. But generally, a speeding violation will run the driver anywhere from $20 to $200 in fines. However, for speeding offenses in road work and school zones the fines are at least doubled and the driver is guilty of a misdemeanor.
A speeding violation can also lead to the Motor Vehicle Divisions assessing points to the driver's record.
Depending on the circumstances, a speeding violation can lead to a “reckless driving” conviction. And if a speeding violation results in the death of another person, it’s possible to be convicted of “negligent homicide.”