Licensing Process

To get your driver’s license in Montana, you’ll move through three licensing stages. As you progress, you’ll also need your parents’ permission at each step.

Learner’s License

When you turn 14½, you may apply for a Traffic Education Learner’s License (TELL) only if you are in a state-approved traffic education program. If you are not in a state-approved traffic education program, you must wait until age 16. You and a parent or guardian need to visit your local driver exam office and bring a proof of identity, proof that you’re a Montana resident and proof that you are legally in the U.S. Once you pass the written driver’s knowledge test and medical requirements, you’ll be given your learner’s license.

A learner’s license lets you drive only with a licensed driver age 18 or older supervising and sitting in the front seat. The learner’s license lets you practice driving with an experienced adult driver. Once you have practiced driving for at least 50 hours (including 10 hours at night) with a parent or legal guardian, you are allowed to get a first-year restricted license. Keep track of your practice driving with the AAA Driving Log.

After you have had your learner’s license for at least 6 consecutive months and completed 50 hours of practice driving, you can go to your local DMV to take the driving test. You must also complete a Graduated Driver Licensing Parent/Legal Guardian Certification form and pay associated fees. Make sure a parent or guardian comes with you to sign the application form.

Restricted License

When you have a first-year restricted license, you’re allowed to drive without a parent, but you must follow certain rules to help keep you safe. Montana does not allow teens with first-year restricted licenses to drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.—some of the riskiest driving hours for all drivers and especially for teens. Exceptions are granted for travel to and from work and school activities and for medical reasons. During the first six months, you may not drive with more than one non-family passenger under age 18. For the second six months, you may not drive with more than three non-family passengers under age 18. These restrictions, however, do not apply if you are driving with an adult, licensed passenger seated next to you. You and all of your passengers must wear seat belts while you’re driving.

Full License

If you have held a first-year restricted license for one year and passed Montana’s approved Traffic Education Program, you are eligible for a full privilege driver’s license. Without driver education, you cannot get an unrestricted license until age 18.

Now is a good time to set up a parent-teen driving agreement to help you and your parents establish expectations related to both their rules and those of the state.

Licensing Authority

The Montana Department of Justice, through its Driver Services Program, is in charge of licensing for all drivers in the state. Driver Services:

  • Conducts the written exam and road test for your learner’s license and first-year restricted license.
  • Keeps track of your license status and can suspend your license if you get too many tickets, don’t keep insurance on your car or commit other violations.
  • Parent-Teen Driving Agreement – Signing a formal agreement with your parents helps in multiple ways.
  • Driver-ZED – Offered by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Driver-ZED is a computer-based program to help you practice driving on your PC.