Montana Motorcycle Laws and Helmet Laws

Montana is a motorcyclist’s dream come true. Gorgeous scenery, minimal traffic, high speed limits… what’s not to love? Like all motorists, however, local motorcycle riders must follow the rules of the road. In particular, they must abide by several motorcycle-specific laws. The most important Montana motorcycle laws are outlined below:


Motorcycle Endorsements

In Montana, motorcycles and motor scooters cannot legally be operated without a motorcycle endorsement. To qualify for this endorsement, applicants must:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Pay a fee of 52 cents per year
  • Possess a valid Montana driver’s license
  • Successfully complete all required written and road tests

Prospective motorcyclists will find the Montana Motorcycle Supplement a valuable resource as they prepare for the state’s rigorous written and road tests. This publication provides an overview of protective gear, motorcycle selection, and vehicle controls, as well as suggestions for handling difficult situations on the road.

Applicants who pass the written test are granted special motorcycle learner licenses, which allow them to practice their road skills under the supervision of licensed motorcycle operators. Learner licenses are valid for one year from the date of the written test’s completion.


Montana’s motorcycle road test examines the following essentials:

  • Communication with other motorcyclists and those operating other vehicles
  • Knowledge of motorcycle equipment and controls
  • The ability to adjust the motorcycle’s position and speed based on the situation at hand
  • The ability to stop and swerve quickly


In addition to motorcycle agility and communication skills, Montana’s road tests closely examine the vehicles themselves. Motorcycles must be properly registered before the test can commence. Motorcycle requirements include:

  • Headlamp illumination for at least 500 feet
  • Reflector and taillight visibility for at least 500 feet
  • Stoplight visibility for at least 100 feet in sunlight
  • A horn that can be heard from at least 200 feet away
  • Operable directional signals
  • Use of a muffler, which cannot be modified to make the vehicle louder
  • Lighting for the license plate
  • Footrests for passengers


Use of Lights

To be approved for use in Montana, motorcycles must be outfitted with proper lights, as outlined above. These lights must be used at all times. Exceptions exist for collector’s vehicles, but only during the day and only if vehicles and drivers are clearly discernible from 500 feet away. Exceptions also apply for those driving to local facilities for headlamp repair.


Use of Traffic Lanes

Guidelines for how motorcycles can occupy traffic lanes are detailed in the Montana Code Annotated. Like any motor vehicle, motorcycles are granted the full use of traffic lanes. However, no more than two riders can occupy lanes side by side.


Headgear Requirements

Headgear is strongly recommended for all motorcyclists, but Montana helmet laws only apply to minors. The Montana Code Annotated states that both motorcycle operators and passengers under the age of 18 must wear headgear. This Montana motorcycle helmet law also states that headgear must comply with standards set by the Department of Justice.


Montana Helmet Laws and Motorcycle Laws

Failure to abide by Montana’s road laws can lead not only to criminal penalties but also civil damages if the negligence leads to an accident. By observing these laws, riders play a critical role in keeping the state’s roads safe.