What's the process for teens to get a driver license?

Montana’s graduated driver licensing law § 61-5-131, MCA creates a three-step program that allows new drivers under the age of 18 years to safely develop and improve their driving skills. Each step progressively increases the privileges and responsibilities of a new driver in an effort to reduce the number of motor vehicle crashes involving minors.

Save yourself some time, pre-apply for your license. Filling out required information before your appointment is easy and convenient with our online service.

Step 1:

Non-Commercial Learner Permit (NCLP)

There are two types of Learner Permits in Montana.

Driver Ed Learning Permit:

Students who are 14.5 years old and are in a state-approved traffic education program and have met attendance and testing requirements are issued a permit from the instructor.


Learner Permit:

Students that are 15 years and older and have not attended a Driver Training Class. The permit is issued at  Driver Exam Station.

How to Apply:

  • 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 regular written exam. Appointments can also be made by calling the Customer Care Center at 1 (406) 444-1772 during regular business hours.

At your appointment:

 NCLP Conditions
  • A temporary NCLP is valid for one year.
  • To advance from the NCLP to a First-Year Restricted License the teen must:
    • Hold the NCLP for at least 6 months + 1 day
    • Complete 50 hours (including 10 hours at night) of supervised driving with an adult (For tips on helping your teen learn to drive download the Guide to Teen Driving.)
  • The parent, legal guardian, or responsible adult must log the driving hours. To keep track of your teen’s driving hours, you can use the Teen Driving Log. There is also a driving log app RoadReady available from the App Store.
Restrictions for an NCLP
  • A driver with a NCLP must be supervised by a licensed parent, guardian, or a responsible adult.
  • 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 an MVD Driver License Station.

How to Apply:

First-Year Restricted License Conditions:
  • 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, guardian, or responsible adult 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:

  • 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.

Don't let the opportunity pass you by.

When you get a license or ID - you can easily and conveniently:

  • Register to Vote
  • Register for Organ, Eye, and Tissue Donation Program
  • Register for the End-of-Life Registry
  • Register for Selective Service