Montana Vehicle Laws – Everything You Should Know

Montana Vehicle Laws - Everything You Should Know

Are you a new car owner in Montana?

Or maybe you newly transferred your out-of-state vehicle here?

Whatever the case, you need to comply with the vehicle laws set in place. 

But how can you do that if you don’t know the laws?

This is why, here, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know — from the Montana vehicle laws to the penalties to how to register and insure your vehicle

So let’s begin!

Vehicle Laws in Montana

In Montana, there are 3 vehicle laws. These include:

  • Registration
  • Insurance
  • Equipment 

Let’s look at each one in detail. 

Vehicle Registration

A title and vehicle registration are required for all vehicles operating in Montana. You are required to have proof of these two documents in your vehicle at all times. 

Now, if you newly purchased a vehicle or transferred it from out-of-state, you are given 60 days to get a registration. 

Vehicle registration and titling are handled by the Vehicle Services Bureau (VSB) but are done in your county’s treasurer’s office.

Vehicle Insurance

Besides a title and registration, all vehicles have to be insured in Montana. Only motorcycles are exempted to have insurance. 

For vehicle insurance, you need to meet the minimum coverage:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury or death for one person for one accident
  • $50,000 for bodily injury or death for two persons for one accident
  • $10,000 for property damage of others for one accident

Remember, these are only the minimum requirements, so you are free to get a higher coverage amount for your vehicle. 

Once you have your vehicle insurance, you need a copy of it in your vehicle at all times. 

What’s more, proof of insurance is required for your vehicle registration.  

Vehicle Required Equipment

To make sure your vehicle functions properly, Montana requires that it has all the necessary equipment. Not only that, but the equipment should be in good working condition as well. 

Here is a table of the required equipment and what each one should be able to do. 

Headlights and Tail LightsVehicles manufactured after January 1, 1956, should have white or amber lights at the front and red or amber lights for the tail. Both headlights and tail lights are not allowed to be tinted and covered. 

Headlights should be able to illuminate a distance of 350 feet on high beams and 100 feet on low beams. 
Turn SignalsVehicles manufactured after January 1, 1956, should have white or amber turn signals at the front and red or amber ones for the tail lights.

Turn signals should be visible within 300 feet in the daylight. 
Brake LightsVehicles manufactured after January 1, 1956, should have red or amber brake lights visible within 300 feet during the day. 
License Plate LampVehicles manufactured after January 1, 1956, must have a white light illuminating the license plate. This light should make the license plate visible within 50 feet. 
Red Rear ReflectorsMust be visible at night when in front of high-beam headlights. It should be visible between a 50-300 feet distance. 
MufflerShould be able to prevent excessive or unusual noise. 
MirrorVehicles manufactured after January 1, 1956, must provide 200-foot visibility to the rear of the vehicle. 
Brakes and Parking BrakesMust be able to stop and hold the vehicle under any condition. 
HornMust be audible within 200 feet.
Parking LightsAny vehicle parked or stopped must have display parking lights that are white or amber at the front and red at the rear. These lights should be visible at 500 feet. 

Flashing lights are prohibited unless part of an emergency or authorized vehicle. 
Windshield and Windshield WipersVehicles manufactured after January 1, 1956, must have a front windshield with safety glass. It should be in good condition and no obstructions should be placed on it. 
Windshield wipers should be able to clear rain, snow, or any moisture. 
Window Tinting and Sun ScreeningThe front windshield should be non-reflective and allowed only above the manufacturer’s AS-1 line. 

Front seat side windows are allowed up to 24% tint darkness, while back seat side and rear windows are up to 14%.
SeatbeltsVehicles manufactured after January 1, 1968, must have seatbelts for every designated seat. 

Vehicles manufactured between January 1, 1965, and January 1968, must have seatbelts on the front seats. 

Additional equipment may be required depending on your vehicle. Read more about them on Montana’s Driver Manual

Vehicle Penalties in Montana

In Montana, if you are caught driving without vehicle registration, you will be fined anywhere between $250 to $500. 

As for uninsured vehicles, you will face these penalties: 

  • First offense – fine of $250-$500
  • Second offense – fine of $350
  • Third or subsequent offense – fine of $500 and imprisonment at the county jail for not more than 10 days

Your vehicle registration and license plates will also be suspended if you have no proof of insurance. 

How to Register A Vehicle in Montana

In Montana, vehicle registration and titling happen at the same time – you cannot do one without doing the other. 

Here’s how it goes: 

NOTE: If it’s a new vehicle bought from a dealer, your dealer will facilitate the title creation with the treasurer’s office. If the vehicle was bought from an individual, you have to process the title transfer on your own. 

  • Choose whether you want to register your vehicle for 12 months, 24 months, or permanent (only available for cars older than 11 years old)
  • Pay the taxes and registration fees. Prices will depend. 
  • Wait for your registration receipt. Always have at least one copy of the receipt in your vehicle. 
  • Wait for your license plates. 

And just like that, you have your vehicle registered and titled. It’s so easy!


And those were the Montana vehicle laws. 

So before you get on the road, make sure that you complete this checklist:

  • Insure your car with the state’s minimum coverage
  • Title your car
  • Register your car

What are you waiting for?

You better get all these so you don’t have to face the penalties. 

Good luck!

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