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Attorney General Austin Knudsen Announces Temporary Relief to Help Student Drivers

Attorney General Austin Knudsen announced a temporary relief program today to clear a driver education backlog and help Montanans who are 15-years old get their learner’s permit and eventually a driver’s license in a timely fashion, saving their families money in the process. Students can begin scheduling appointments today to start the process by taking the written exam.

There are an estimated 22,000 Montana students waiting to enroll so they can obtain their learner’s permit. Government COVID-19 closures and restrictions exacerbated the existing backlog caused by a shortage of driving instructors. When courses are available, they cost families hundreds of dollars. As a result, Montanans have faced hardship in obtaining credentials needed to drive.

“Thousands of young Montanans haven’t been able to get their learner’s permit because of lockdown measures and an ongoing instructor shortage in schools. Too many families are having to wait for more than a year until their son or daughter can get into a drivers ed class,” Attorney General Knudsen said. “We’re getting bureaucracy out of the way so Montana teenagers can get back on track, start learning to drive safely, and save their families money.”

Under the status quo, students who are not able to enroll in a driver’s education course must wait until they are 16 before they can receive a learner’s permit and begin the process of obtaining their driver’s license.

Under new Department of Justice guidance, the Motor Vehicle Division will allow Montanans who are 15-years old to drive after passing the written exam, completing 50 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction with a parent or other responsible adult, and passing the driving skills test. All testing and behind-the-wheel driving requirements remain the same under the new guidance.

After a self-guided or parent-led study of the Montana Driver Manual, students can set an appointment online or over the phone to take the test at a local exam station. After passing the written test, they will receive a temporary learner’s permit.

Students must then complete and log 50 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction with a parent or responsible adult, including 10 hours at night. After six months and completing the driving requirements, students take the driving skills test at an MVD location. If successful, a graduated license will be granted. Drivers with a graduated license are restricted from having more than one unrelated passenger under the age of 18 and from driving between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

The Motor Vehicle Division set up a one-stop webpage that explains the new process for obtaining a learner’s permit and has learning resources for teens and parents: