Licensing & State Laws
Are you legally allowed to drive without supervision now? Learn more about Montana’s multi-stage licensing process.
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.
Once you’ve 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 office 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.
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.
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.
For more information visit the Montana Department of Justice – Driver Services.
Police enforce life-saving traffic laws related to seat belt use, drinking and driving, teen driver’s licenses and speeding, among others. If you violate these laws, you will be punished. Breaking the law can lead to fines, license suspension and other penalties.
- Expect to present your driver’s license, the vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
- Always cooperate and be respectful with law enforcement, whether you’re the driver or a passenger.
- Talk to your parent about what happened.
If you get a ticket or are in a crash, it could lead to a court appearance and many unpleasant consequences.
- Suspended driving privileges
- Driver’s license points
- Attorney’s fees
- Court costs
- Insurance rate increases
The Montana Department of Justice, through its Driver Services Program, is in charge of licensing for all drivers in Montana. Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) 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.
- StartSmart: Practice Driving – AAA’s tips for parents and teens about practice driving.
- StartSmart: Always Use Seat Belts – 63 percent of 16- to 20-year-olds who die in car crashes aren’t buckled up.
- StartSmart: Distractions and Driving – Read about the most common distractions, and get helpful advice for teens and parents.
- Parent-Teen Driving Agreement – Signing a formal agreement with your parent 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.