Licensing & State Laws

Montana’s multi-stage licensing process allows teens to gradually gain exposure to complex driving situations, easing them into driving over an extended period of time.

Learner’s License

At age 16, teens can apply for a Traffic Education Learner’s License (TELL) in the state of Montana. Teenagers may obtain a learner’s license as early as age 14½ years old, but only if they are in a state-approved traffic education program.

To do so, both teen and parent must visit their local driver exam office with proof of identity, proof of Montana residency and proof of authorized presence in the U.S.  Teens must pass a written driver’s knowledge test and pass the medical requirements, then they’ll receive a learner’s license.

With a learner’s license, teens may only drive with a licensed driver age 18 or older supervising and sitting in the front seat. Teens are required to practice driving for at least 50 hours, including 10 hours at night, with a parent or a legal guardian, before they’re allowed a first-year restricted license.

When your teen has held a learner’s license for at least 6 consecutive months and completed 50 hours of practice driving, the teen can apply for a first-year restricted license at a driver exam station. Your teen also must complete a Graduated Driver Licensing Parent/Legal Guardian Certification form and pay associated fees.

Restricted License

A teen with a first-year restricted license is allowed to drive alone, but must follow certain restrictions. The teen may not drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. (Some exceptions are granted.) For the first six months, unless an adult with a valid license is seated next to them in the vehicle, restricted license holders are prohibited from driving with more than one non-family member passenger under age 18. For the second six months, unless supervised by an adult with a valid license, the teen may have three unrelated passengers under age 18 in the vehicle. Teen drivers and all passengers are required to wear seat belts.

Full License

Teens are eligible for a full unrestricted license if they have held a first-year restricted license for one year and passed Montana’s approved Traffic Education Program. Without driver education, teens can get an unrestricted license at age 18. The state does not place night or passenger limits on those with unrestricted licenses. However, AAA encourages parents to maintain their own rules.

parent-teen driving agreement can help you enforce licensing rules that the state and your family set. An agreement helps you and your teen understand the rules of the road and sends a clear message that driving is an earned privilege that your family takes seriously.

Visit the Montana Department of Justice-Driver Services

The Montana Department of Justice, through its Driver Services Program, is in charge of licensing for all drivers in Montana. The Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) conducts the written exam and road test needed to get a driver’s license.

Visit the Motor Vehicle Division

Remind your teen that police can and will enforce all requirements on seat belt use, drinking and driving, and other laws. Breaking the law can lead to fines, license suspension and other penalties.

  • If stopped by the police, teens should present a valid license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
  • Whether stopped as a driver or passenger, teens should always cooperate and be respectful with law enforcement.
  • If in any kind of situation involving law enforcement, teens should talk to their parents about it, because this can create a learning experience.

If your teen gets a ticket or is involved in a crash, it could lead to a court appearance. Judges deal seriously and directly with teen traffic violations. They can assess fines and suspend driving privileges for traffic offenses – even for a first offense, depending on the type of violation.