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What Are Traffic Violations And Infractions In Montana?

Montana traffic violations and infractions comprise non-compliance to the state traffic rules. Traffic offenses range from mild to severe, based on the violation’s capacity to damage property and life. Traffic offenses are not taken lightly in the state; thus, there are penalties issued to traffic violations. They include fines, probations, suspensions from driving, revocations, or even incarceration. Offenses are recorded against the state’s offenders as part of traffic regulation and identifying habitual offenders.

What Are Felony Traffic Violations In Montana?

Felony traffic violations in Montana refer to traffic offenses in the category of a felony by the state’s criminal code. Felonies consist of rape, murders, robberies, etc., and are punishable by death or a prison term of one year or more in the state. Felonies are interpreted as the most severe of all offenses. Montana’s penal code does not categorize them; instead, each felony is assigned a specified penalty. Of these, negligent homicide is the most related to traffic felonies. In other words, any form of carelessness while driving that leads to another’s death is termed negligent homicide. The penalty is a prison term up to 20 years or $50,000 fine, or both. The severity of the prison term and fine is determined by the presiding judge who examines each case on its merit.

Examples Of Felony Traffic Violations In Montana

Traffic violations that predispose to negligence while driving come under this category. Some of them are:

  • Drunk driving
  • Driving While Intoxicated
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Hit-and-run
  • All forms of distracted driving, such as texting while driving
  • Excessive speeding
  • Attempts to evade a police officer

What Are Traffic Misdemeanors In Montana?

Traffic misdemeanors are somewhere between felonies and infractions in terms of severity. Misdemeanors attract fines higher than infractions, loss of driving privileges, and a possible jail term of not more than one year. As is with felonies in Montana, there are specific penalties allocated to named misdemeanors. Therefore each case of a misdemeanor is assessed on its merit by the judge.

Examples Of Traffic Misdemeanors In Montana

Minor infractions with a potential threat to human safety may be scaled up as a misdemeanor in Montana. Some of them are:

  • Tailgating
  • Wrong lane driving
  • Running a red light traffic signal
  • Failure to yield the right of way
  • Driving too slowly
  • Refusal to slow down for a school bus
  • Not slowing down at an intersection

What Constitutes A Traffic Infraction In Montana?

Traffic infractions constitute minor offenses in Montana. There are laid down guidelines for awarding ticket fines and points to infractions in the state. While voided tickets close traffic infraction cases in the state, the cumulative effect of repeat infractions is the award of stiffer penalties such as the suspension of driver’s license, higher fines, and other collateral damages associated with the existence of a criminal record.

Traffic infractions in Montana may include:

  • Illegal U-turn
  • Distracted driving
  • Parking violations
  • Wrongful overtaking
  • Ignoring traffic signs
  • Driving too closely to an emergency vehicle
  • Going beyond speed limits

How Does A Traffic Ticket Work In Montana?

A traffic ticket is an authorized slip handed to a traffic law violator. This slip contains information about the offense, the penalty, the due date for payment or appearance in court, the violator’s name and license information, and the ticketing officer’s name. It also gives the address of the court where the case is to be filed. For minor violations, an appearance in court is usually unnecessary if the ticketed individual is willing to pay the fine. Some other infractions may require compulsory attendance of a court hearing. Either way, it is mandatory to fulfill all obligations on or before the due date. Failure to do so may attract the suspension of driving privileges or the issuance of an arrest warrant by the court.

When an individual receives a ticket, they must enter either a guilty plea or a “not guilty’ plea. A “not guilty” plea generally means that defendants proceed to pay the ticket. It is an admission of guilt if a court appearance is not mandatory. On the other hand, a defendant may wish to fight the ticket in court. A “not guilty” plea would initiate a court hearing for the individual if there were not one already. If the individual is discharged or acquitted, all paid fees are generally returned. Also, all prospective convictions regarding the case will be dropped from the driving record. A guilty plea and the payment of a fine will close the case, but a report of the conviction is sent to the Montana Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) in the state.

The MVD enters the report as points on the driving record of the individual. An accumulation of 30 points in three years may lead to the revocation of the driver’s license. Some of the violations that attract points are:

  • Driving during the suspension of a license- six points
  • Driving without an insurance- four points
  • Speeding- three points
  • Other moving violations- two points
  • Driving under the influence (DUI)- 10 points

Are Driving Records Public In Montana?

Driving records are public records in Montana. However, the Driver Privacy Protection Act makes it compulsory for anyone wishing to obtain driving records to present evidence of entitlement to such information. Under this act, the following requests are approved:

  • Persons wishing to obtain their driving record
  • Third-party requests with the consent of release from the person listed in the record
  • For use as part of an official process in government agencies
  • Request for use by insurance companies
  • Requests by licensed private investigator authorized under the law of the State
  • Employers or agents of an establishment to verify the information.
  • Parents request on behalf of a child under the age of 18 years.
  • The purpose of verification, update, and correction of personal information in business
  • For providing notice to the owners of abandoned, impounded, or told motor vehicles.

Outside this category, only persons with an executive order or a subpoena can request a driving record.

How To Find Driving Records In Montana?

Driving records can be located at the Municipal Court or Justice Court, where the violation was filed. Visit the court where the case was filed and fill out a record search form. Record search fees may vary by court, but it is usually limited to the cost of processing the request.

For example, the Municipal Court in Missoula charges $5 for a record search, $0 for the first two pages of the document, and 25 cents for extra pages. The MVD of the state also maintains a comprehensive driving record for all vehicle users within the state. Requesters can make use of the driver’s history record service online. This service requires the full names, license numbers, and the last four digits of the social security number.

Alternatively, download the request form, fill it out, and mail it to the appropriate address below:

P.O. Box 201430
Helena, MT 59620

Call (406) 444–3933 or send a fax message to (406) 444–3816 for more information.

Be sure to indicate the delivery preference in the form. A driving record costs $4 12 cents per copy by hand. Certified copies cost $10.30 per copy, strictly delivered in person. Mail deliveries attract an extra $3.09, while fax copies cost $3.09 for the first five pages, then $1.3 for each additional page. Payment is accepted in the form of checks made out to MVD, Montana. For more inquiries, visit the Montana Department of Justice Website.

Can Traffic Violations And Infractions Be Expunged Or Sealed In Montana?

Yes, they can be expunged or sealed. A negative traffic record can present problems for the involved party. For this reason, expunging or sealing records is a welcome option for persons who have been convicted of a traffic violation. In Montana, a judge could order a deferred imposition of sentence on a traffic violation. When this happens, the defendant can contact the court after fulfilling all obligations to have the deferment processed. It means that the state may remove the points associated with the particular conviction from the record. A deferred sentence may not be granted if there has been any other ticket within the last five years or a different ticket within the same period. Another basis for disqualification is if the defendant failed to appear within the set time for appearance. Also, note that some tickets, such as traffic misdemeanors, cannot be deferred. The same rule goes for all traffic violations by holders of a commercial driver’s license. The Municipal or Justice Courts cannot grant requests to seal or expunge a record. Instead, file a petition with the District Court to have the physical and electronic record of the conviction obliterated from the system. To qualify for expunction, such tickets must have been dismissed at trial or by a motion from the city or district attorney’s office.

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