What?! A Driver’s License Not Required?
Many thanks to Mark Wilson and Paul Mushaben, The Breakfast Flakes from Cat Country 102.9, for hosting the statewide hour of Montana Talks today. Boy, did they walk into a meat grinder. A caller noted that Montana does not require a driver’s license to operate a motor vehicle, to which Paul replied: “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!” And the lines lit up. Another couple callers verified what this caller said and others disputed it, including a lawyer and prosecutor in Bozeman.
The initial caller and his supporters said, “Do your research.”
The source for the following is the Montana Code Annotated 2017, update on November 12, 2018, which can be found here. I did underline key points in the Montana law.
Montana Code Annotated 2017
TITLE 61. MOTOR VEHICLES
CHAPTER 5. DRIVER'S LICENSES
Part 1. Licensing Provisions
Drivers To Be Licensed -- Penalty
61-5-102. Drivers to be licensed -- penalty. (1) (a) Except as provided in 61-5-104, a person may not drive a motor vehicle upon a highway in this state unless the person has a valid Montana driver's license. A person may not receive a Montana driver's license until the person surrenders to the department all valid driver's licenses issued by any other jurisdiction. A person may not have in the person's possession or under the person's control more than one valid Montana driver's license at any time.
(b) Except as provided in subsection (1)(c), the penalty for a violation of this section is a fine of not more than $500.
(4) When a city or town requires a licensed driver to obtain a local driving license or permit, a license or permit may not be issued unless the applicant presents a state driver's license valid under the provisions of this chapter.
I saw the keyword in this law too: “highway.” Here is the legal definition as per the State of Montana.
Montana Code Annotated 2017
TITLE 60. HIGHWAYS AND TRANSPORTATION
CHAPTER 1. HIGHWAY CODE
Part 2. Classification of Highways
Classification -- Highways And Roads
60-1-201. Classification -- highways and roads. (1) Public highways of this state are classified as follows:
(a) federal-aid highways;
(b) state highways;
(c) county roads;
(d) city streets.
Back to the Licensing Provisions:
61-5-103. Residency requirement. (1) A person who has resided in Montana for more than 60 consecutive days is considered to be a resident for the purpose of being licensed to operate a motor vehicle and must be licensed under the laws of Montana before operating a motor vehicle.
License To Be Carried And Exhibited On Demand
61-5-116. License to be carried and exhibited on demand. A licensee must have the licensee's driver's license in the licensee's immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle and shall display the license upon demand of a justice of the peace, a city or municipal judge, a peace officer, a highway patrol officer, or a field deputy or inspector of the department. However, a person charged with violating this section may not be convicted if the person produces in court or the office of the arresting officer a driver's license issued to the person and valid at the time of the person's arrest.
Did my homework. For those callers who said a license is not needed, your turn. Let’s see your research.