Following is an overview of the laws, limits, and fines as they relate to speeding traffic violations in the state of Montana.
Speed limits in Montana
Montana has one of the highest interstate speed limits in the country. As of October 2015, the state is just one of six to post an 80 mph limit.
80 mph: rural interstate highways
65-75 mph: rural four-lane divided highways
55-70 mph: two-lane undivided highways
55 mph: traffic-light highways
35-45 mph: boulevards
30 mph: residential districts
25 mph: urban districts
25 mph: school zones
Montana also maintains reduced nighttime speed limits in some areas, typically from 55-65 mph.
Montana code on reasonable and prudent speed
Maximum speed law:
According to section 61-8-303(3) of Montana vehicle code, “A person shall operate a vehicle in a careful and prudent manner and at a reduced rate of speed no greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions existing at the point of operation, taking into account the amount and character of traffic, visibility, weather and roadway conditions.”
Minimum speed law:
Section 61-8-311(1) states, “A motor vehicle may not be driven at a speed slow enough to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.”
Due to variations in speedometer calibration, tire size, and margins of error in speed-detecting technology, it’s uncommon for an officer to pull a driver over for going less than five miles above the speed limit. However, technically any amount over can be considered a speed violation, so the best practices are to stay within the limit.
While it may be difficult to fight a speeding ticket in Montana due to the absolute speed limit law, a driver may choose to go to court and claim their innocence based upon one of the following:
The driver may oppose the determination of speed. In order to claim this defense a driver must know how his or her speed was determined and then learn how to disprove its accuracy.
A driver may claim that an emergency situation caused the driver to break the speed limit in order to prevent injury or damage to themselves or others.
The driver may claim a case of mistaken identity. If a police officer clocks a driver speeding and subsequently has to find them again in traffic, it’s possible that they could make a mistake and pull the wrong car over.
Penalty for exceeding the speed limit in Montana
- Montana classifies different levels of speed violations as either an infraction, or a Class A, B, or C misdemeanor. Potential penalties are based upon the severity of the violation (in other words, the amount over the speed limit a driver is traveling, and whether the violation causes an accident).
First-time violators may:
Be fined up to $200
Have their license suspended for up to six months
Penalty for reckless driving in Montana
There is no set speed which is considered reckless driving in this state. That determination depends upon the circumstances of the violation.
First-time violators may:
Be fined up to $300
Be sentenced to up to 90 days of jail time
Have their license suspended for up to one year
Violators may be required to complete a driver rehabilitation and improvement course.