Everything You Need to Know About Texting and Driving in Montana

Although there is no state law against texting and driving in Montana, some cities and counties have enacted their own distracted driving laws.
Written by Brittni Brinn
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Montana is the only state that doesn’t have a texting and driving law. Some cities and counties, however, have passed laws against distracted driving with penalties that include fines of around $100. If you cause an accident while texting and driving, you can still be charged with careless or negligent driving.
Considered “the new drunk driving,” distracted driving is a major contributor to car accidents in Montana—up to 80% of all collisions involve some kind of distracted driving. Even though Montana has the fifth-highest rate of accidents in America, the state has been slow to implement a texting and driving law.
If you’re driving in Montana, however, there are areas where texting and driving is illegal. To give you a road map of where distracted driving laws apply and how to avoid getting a ticket,
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What are the texting and driving laws in Montana?

As the only state without a texting and driving law, it’s technically legal to use your phone when you’re behind the wheel in Montana.
Before you start Snapchatting the view, however, you should be aware that there are areas of Montana that do have laws against distracted driving. These include:
Distracted driving is “any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract them from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing.” There are three ways that these distractions come up when you’re driving:
  • Visual: Anything that takes your eyes off of the road ahead of you
  • Manual: When you take your hands off of the wheel to do something else
  • Cognitive: Anything that takes your mind away from driving
Even when you’re not in the cities and counties that have texting and driving laws, if you’re using your phone and are in an accident, you could be charged with careless driving. Distracted driving will also result in higher insurance rates after an accident.

What are the penalties for texting and driving in Montana?

As there are no state laws against texting and driving in Montana, there are no penalties. However, using your phone while driving could result in a careless driving charge if your phone usage leads to a collision.
Here’s how careless driving charges break down:
Points on license
Texting and driving
Texting and driving
City or county in Montana with distracted driving law
Around $100
Careless driving
First offense
$10 to $100
4 points
Careless driving
Resulting in injury or death
Maximum $5000 plus jail time
4 points
A driver has no control over the outcomes of texting and driving. Checking your phone while driving may seem harmless, but if it leads to a collision, you could be facing major penalties. The easiest way to avoid these penalties is to keep your attention—visual, manual, and cognitive—fully on the road.

Are there exceptions to Montana’s texting and driving law

Since Montana does not have a texting and driving law, there are no exceptions.
Remember that most modern vehicles are equipped with hands-free and voice-activated options. Hooking up your phone using Bluetooth is a great way to use your phone in a safe manner.

Are there special rules for texting and driving for different driving licenses?

Montana’s state law doesn’t cover texting and driving, but some licenses are under federal law. For commercial truck drivers and drivers with CDLs, texting while driving is illegal.
Key Takeaway Although Montana as a whole doesn’t have a texting and driving law, you can still be charged with careless driving if you cause an accident while using your phone.

Can texting and driving raise my insurance premium?

You can’t be cited for texting and driving in Montana, but insurance companies will take note of any accidents you’re involved in. 
The average driver in Montana pays $1,835 per year for their car insurance. After an accident involving distracted driving, you can expect to see your premium rise to $2,145—that’s a 17% increase!
To avoid distracted driving, you can turn off your phone or set it to “do not disturb”. Or use the hands-free features to keep your attention on the road. And remember, you can always pull over if you need to use your phone—even if it’s just checking a message, looking at your phone counts as distracted driving.

How to save money on car insurance rates in Montana

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No. Texting and driving isn’t a chargeable offense in Montana, so you don’t have to worry about jail time. If you cause an accident that results in injury or death while using your phone, however, you could be charged with careless driving and face jail time.
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