Montana’s Speeding Laws and Penalties

Read about Montana’s speeding laws and the consequences of getting a speeding ticket.

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.

(Also, check out our articles that discuss the different types of speeding laws and ways of fighting a speeding ticket.)

Absolute Speed Limits

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:

  • 25 miles per hour in urban districts
  • 80 miles per hour on interstate highways outside of urbanized areas of at least 50,000 people
  • 65 miles per hour on interstate highways within urbanized areas of at least 50,000 people
  • 70 miles per hour on other roadways during the daytime, and
  • 65 miles per hour on other roadways during the nighttime.

For purposes of the absolute speed limits, daytime means half an hour before sunrise until half an hour after sunset.

(Mont. Code Ann. § 61-8-303 (2017).)

Basic Speeding Law

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.

(Mont. Code Ann. § 61-8-303 (2017).)

Penalties for a Speeding Ticket

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.

Generally, a speeding violation will affect a motorist’s driving record and lead to insurance premium increases only if the driver exceeded the limit by more than:

  • ten miles per hour during the daytime, or
  • five miles per hour during the nighttime.

(Mont. Code Ann. §§ 61-8-314, 61-8-725, 61-8-726 (2017).)

Reckless Driving and Negligent Homicide

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.”

(Read more Montana’s reckless driving and negligent homicide laws and penalties.)

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