Licensing & State Laws
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.
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 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 on the licensing process, visit the Montana Department of Justice – Driver Services.
- Conducts the written exam and road test for your learner’s license and first-year restricted license.
- Provides study materials to help you get ready for the exams.
- 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.
Your parents will set rules as you learn to drive. But state and local police are involved, too, enforcing traffic laws and investigating crashes. By enforcing laws and requirements on seat belt use, distracted driving, drinking and driving, and teen license restrictions, police keep everyone on the road safer. Breaking laws can lead to fines, license suspension and other penalties.
- If pulled over by the police, present your driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
- If stopped as a driver or passenger, always cooperate and be respectful with law enforcement.
- If in any kind of situation involving law enforcement, talk to your parents about it immediately afterward.
- Use a parent-teen driving agreement.
- Keep your parents in the know about who you ride with.
- Let your parents know when and where you’re headed.
- 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.