Student Driver Relief Program

COVID response measures and an ongoing shortage of driver’s education instructors, students and families are creating hardships for families seeking to enroll their students in a driver’s education program. There are an estimated 22,000 students waiting to enroll so they can obtain their learner’s permit.

To alleviate this hardship and help young Montanans start learning to drive safely, Attorney General Austin Knudsen has instructed MVD to provide temporary relief in obtaining a temporary learner’s permit. Under the new guidance, students can start the licensing process at 15 years of age through self-study and behind-the-wheel practice with a parent or responsible adult. These temporary changes are in accordance with Montana Code (61-5-105(b)).

Quick Links:

      Step 1: Learner’s Permit Period

Students that are at least 15 years old may apply for a learner’s permit by following these easy steps:

  • Study for the written driver’s test using the Montana Driver’s Manual.
  • Schedule an appointment at any MVD exam station to take the written exam. When making your appointment, be sure to indicate that you are making an appointment for a written exam. Appointments can also be made by calling the Customer Care Center at 1 (866) 450-8034 during regular business hours.

At your appointment:

Congratulations, You Passed!

  • Upon passing the exam, you will receive a temporary learner’s permit which is valid for one year.
  • To advance from the learners permit to a First-Year Restricted License the teen must:
    • hold the learner’s permit for at least 6 months and
    • complete 50 hours (including 10 hours at night) of supervised driving with an adult.
  • The parent or guardian must log the driving hours. To keep track of your teen’s driving hours, you can use the Teen Driving Log. There are also several driving log apps available for your smart phone such as RoadReady and Fast Track Driving Log Free.

Conditions During the Permit Period:

  • A driver with a Learner License must be supervised by a licensed parent or guardian, or a licensed driver age 18 years or older who is authorized by the parent or guardian.
  • Everyone in the vehicle must wear a seatbelt.
  • The teen driver must not receive any traffic violations or alcohol/drug offenses in the six-month period before advancing to a First-Year Restricted License.

      Step 2: First-Year Restricted License

When teens have satisfied all Step 1 requirements, they may apply for a First-Year Restricted License at a driver license bureau. To apply:

  • Schedule an appointment for a drive test
  • Bring all required documents
    • Driving log; either hard copy or digital version on an electronic device
    • Drive test vehicle documentation:
      • proof  of current registration for drive test vehicle
      • proof of insurance; either physical insurance card or digitally on an electronic device
    • Valid learner’s permit
    • A completed Graduated Driver Licensing Parent/Legal Guardian Certification (form 21-1600)
  • Complete and pass a drive test. After passing, the student will be issued a driver license with a restriction code on the front and back. This restriction remains in effect for one year.

Conditions of First-Year Restricted License:

  • Everyone in the vehicle must wear a seatbelt.
  • Teenage drivers may not drive between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., with some exceptions.
    • These exceptions including emergencies, farm-related activities, travel to and from school, church or work, and specific parent-authorized purposes.
    • Law enforcement officials may contact the parent or guardian of a teen driver to verify the purpose for which the teen is authorized to drive between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.
  • For the first six months, unless supervised by a licensed driver age 18 or older, a teenage driver may have only one unrelated passenger under age 18 in the vehicle.
  • For the second six months, unless supervised by a licensed driver age 18 or older, a teenage driver may have three unrelated passengers under age 18 in the vehicle.

Penalties for violating the Step 2 license restrictions are:

  • First Offense – between 20 and 60 hours of community service
  • Second Offense – suspension of the teen’s driver license for six months

      Step 3: Full Privilege Driver License

First-Year Restricted License restrictions automatically end on the date indicated on the back of the driver license, or when the individual turns 18, whichever occurs first. Once the teenager reaches Step 3, the driver license confers full privileges.

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