What Is the Driving Age in Montana?

Montana teens must be at least 14.5 years old to begin the Graduated Driver Licensing program that culminates in an unrestricted license.
Written by Sophie Boka
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Montana is one of many U.S. states that offer the Graduated Driver Licensing program, providing a pathway for teens—14.5 years and older—to earn their unrestricted driver’s license.
Teens growing up outside of urban centers covet nothing more than the day they can finally hop behind the wheel of a car and zoom off with newfound independence. So, when will that day come? In the U.S., the driving age varies from state to state.
That’s why
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car insurance
savings, is here to clear things up. We’ll go over Montana’s driving age and provide you with a guide to earning your learner’s permit and finally your driver’s license. Most importantly, stick around to find out how to score affordable
car insurance in Montana
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What is the driving age in Montana?

The minimum age to begin the Graduated Driver Licensing program in Montana is 14.5 years old. And you can enter the final restricted stage of this program as early as age 16
After that, you are allowed to apply for a standard unrestricted driver’s license 12 months later or once you turn 18—whichever comes first.
While the process may sound like a slog, Montana has one of the youngest minimum driving ages in the country! So if you’re a Montana teen itching to drive, consider yourself lucky.

What is the Graduated Driver Licensing program in Montana?

According to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
, car accidents are the second leading cause of death for young Americans. While grim, this statistic uncovered room for improvement, which is why modern licensing programs were developed.
Back in the ‘90s, Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) was introduced to help address this issue. The idea is that graduated experiential education will produce stronger drivers, leading to a reduction in car crashes and fatalities. 
Since then, most states have adopted GDL programs. And it’s been working!
No matter your state, the program generally proceeds in three stages:
  • Learner stage: Supervised driving with a learner’s permit
  • Intermediate stage: Limited unsupervised driving with a first-year restricted license
  • Unrestricted stage: Full privilege driving with unrestricted/restricted standard driver’s license

How to get your instruction permit in Montana

All drivers under the age of 18 must move through Montana’s GDL program as administered by the Motor Vehicle Division of the Montana Department of Justice.
To get your permit, you’ll need to
make an appointment
with a driver services bureau. But to do so, you’ll need to first meet these requirements:
  • You are at least 14.5 years old and in a state-approved traffic education program (online programs are not approved) 
  • Or you are 15 years old and in the
    Student Driver Relief Program
  • Pass the required written test
  • Meet any and all medical requirements
  • Know your Social Security number
  • Provide parental consent,
    proof of identity
    , proof of residency, and proof of authorized presence  
  • Pay all fees
Make sure to study the
Montana Driver Manual
so you ace your exam! Parents can join in on the fun by checking out the state-provided
Parent’s Guide to Teen Driving
After meeting the requirements, you’ll be given your learner’s permit. This permit is valid for up to a year and can be used to meet the practice requirements necessary to move to phase two.

Learner’s permit procedures

Within a year of receiving your permit, you must complete 50 hours of supervised driving, with at least 10 of these hours at night. While you have a year until your permit expires, you must complete the 50 hours over a minimum of six months.
If you received special permission from the Department of Justice to take an alternative online traffic education course, then the hour requirement is bumped up to 75 hours, 15 of which must be at night.
Note that at this stage, you are not allowed to drive unsupervised. And your supervisor must be 18 years or older and authorized by your parent or guardian.

How to get your first-year restricted driver’s license in Montana

You’ve put in the hard work and you’ve completed your driving hours. Now it’s time to move onto the second stage: the first-year restricted license.
Here’s what you’ve got to do to proceed to level two:
  • Be at least 16 years old 
  • Or be 15 years old and have completed driver's ed
  • Hold your Montana permit for a minimum of six months
  • Bring the required documents (proof of identity, proof of Montana residency, and proof of authorized presence), plus driving test documentation and a
    completed GDL Parent/Legal Guardian Certification
  • If applicable, complete the driving test
Key Takeaway Make sure to remember all forms of documentation before going to the driver services bureau! 

First-year restricted license restrictions

You passed the test, and now you can drive alone! But what’s this bit about restrictions? 
This first license is basically a temporary pass. If you follow all the rules and do your time, you’ll move on to the final round! If not, you’ll have to face some penalties.
So, what do you have to do? 
  • First off, everyone in the vehicle must wear a seat belt. That’s a no-brainer. 
  • Second, only one passenger in your vehicle may be unrelated unless you are being supervised by a licensed driver over the age of 18.
  • And third, teens must stay off the road between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. However, there are a few exceptions to this one: emergencies, farm-related chores, travel to and from school, church, work, or parent-authorized purposes. 
If some of those exceptions seem gray, you’re not wrong. But seriously, for your own sake, no funny business. Law enforcement will contact your parents to sort out what’s what.
What’s this? You tested the rules! Here come the penalties:
  • First offense: You’ll have to complete between 20 and 60 hours of community service
  • Second offense: Your license will be suspended for six months! That’s basically a lifetime. 
So, be smart. Keep your eye on the prize. And before you know it, you’ll be headed to the final stage!

Full privilege Montana driver’s license

Congrats! You made it! Welcome to the final stage: your full privilege license.
The restrictions on your first-year license will either end on the date listed on the back of your restricted license or when you turn 18—whichever comes first. 
Once you do, you can pat yourself on the back. You did it. You’ve earned your full privilege driver’s license! 

How to save on car insurance in Montana

You have the license, you have access to a car, there’s just one thing left to get: car insurance. Yep, before you zip off, you’re required to have car insurance coverage.
And no, we’re not just saying this because we’re a car insurance app. The state of Montana requires all drivers to carry minimum car insurance to drive legally. So, parents: make sure to
add your teen driver to your car insurance
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Some can. Starting at 14.5, drivers with the appropriate education and documentation are allowed to drive, albeit with restricted permissions and licensed adult supervision.
You can get a learner’s permit in Montana at age 15. If you are in a state-approved traffic education program, you may get your permit at age 14.5.
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