What are Montana Public Traffic Records?
Montana's public traffic records refer to information about an individual's driving history, including traffic offenses, tickets, convictions, citations, DUIs, driving points, etc.
A person's driving records data is compiled throughout their lifetime as a driver by the state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The Montana Motor Vehicle Division tracks motorists' driving or traffic records in Montana. A Montana driving record lists driver's license applications, license information, driving points, citations, DUIs, convictions, suspensions, accidents, etc., of motorists resident in Montana.
Are Traffic Records Public in Montana?
In adherence to Montana laws, the state will release a Montana driving record upon request, as authorized, following the Montana Driver Privacy Protection Act and Montana Public Records Act, upon completion of the Release of Driving Records (Form 34-0100).
The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles must verify the identity of any person requesting personal information before disclosure. So one might say, yes, traffic records are publicly available in Montana if the requester follows the due procedure.
What do Montana Traffic Records Contain?
The information compiled in a Montana driver record is divided into the following sections:
- Requestor Information
- Driver and Credential Information
- Medical Certificate Information (Commercial drivers only)
- Active Sanctions
- Sanctions History with Related Event
- History Events
- Accident History.
Requestor Information: The name and address of the person requesting the driver record and the date the driver record was issued will appear in this section.
Driver and Credential Information: Depending on the type of driver record requested and who requested it, this section of a driver record may include the following information on the driver:
- Name (Legal name).
- Date of Birth.
- First License Date.
- Status (deceased, expired, learner, licensed, no license, ineligible, suspended, probationary revoked, or valid)
- Credential Number
- State (Jurisdiction where credential was issued).
- Credential Type; (Commercial, motorcycle, driver, etc.)
- Commercial Driver's License Type(Interstate or Intrastate)
- Issue Date
- Expiry or end Date
- Endorsements (That is, additional certifications that authorize the driver to operate specific vehicles or carry specific freight, like motorcycles, hazardous materials, etc.).
Medical Certificate Information: This section only appears if the person considered is or has been a commercial driver.
Active Sanctions: This section details any active sanctions on the driver record and may include the description of sanction, start date, end date, unmet requirements, statute, reference number, etc.
Sanctions History with Related Event: This section details past sanctions applied to a driver record and the related event that led to it, including sanctions applied by another state.
History Events: This section may include both conviction and non-conviction events. Information in this section may comprise violation date, conviction date, jurisdiction, reference Numbers, the specific statute violated, ACD, description, driving points associated with a historical event, total Conviction Points from all convictions within three years of the current date, and total Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) Points, etc.
Accident History: This section details accidents recorded on a driver's record and includes the date of the accident, the date the Motor Vehicles Division applied the accident to the driver's record, the state or country where the accident occurred, severity of the accident (fatality, incapacitating injury, non-incapacitating evident injury, possible injury, non-injury, or unknown), accident location, etc.
Does a Citation Go on Your Record in Montana?
Yes. In Montana, driving points or conviction points will remain on a person’s driving record for three years from the date of conviction. After three years, they are removed from the license records. However, the convictions stay permanently on the driving record. Montana uses a point system to punish those who repeatedly violate traffic laws and records each moving violation on their driving record. Accumulation of many points within a short period may cause a license suspension, revocation, or cancellation. Some offenses accumulate more points than others.
Types of Traffic Citations in Montana
In Montana, there are two types of traffic violations:
- Moving violations: Moving violations occur when vehicles in motion commit traffic infractions. Examples of moving violations include speeding, drunk driving, running a red light or stop sign, etc. These types of violations pose more danger to drivers and other road users, hence, carry more severe penalties than non-moving offenses.
- Non-moving violations: Non-moving violations often concern parking or faulty equipment. Examples include driving while using a mobile phone and driving without a seat belt. Also, parking in a no-parking zone, using expired registration tags, having a broken taillight, inattentive driving, etc.
Additionally, traffic offenses are further classified into Minor traffic violations and Major traffic violations. Minor offenses, a.k.a civil infractions, are not classified as crimes and carry light penalties, but major traffic violations are criminal offenses and are usually categorized as misdemeanors or felonies.
Montana Traffic Citation Lookup
An individual or party that desires to look up Montana traffic tickets may do so in one of two ways: online or in-person.
Online: By visiting the superior court's website where the violation hearing occurred.
In-person: If the court does not provide an online search option, the party may look up records by visiting the county's Superior Court where the ticket was issued or by visiting any local MVD office.
How to Lookup my Montana Traffic Records
Montana provides various options for persons who wish to look up their traffic or driving records.
- Mail or fax.
An individual or party who wishes to look up their driving records should:
- Visit the Driver History Records Service website and click on the "Public User" button.
- Fill in the indicated boxes (full names, driver's license number, and social security number). And indicate whether they want to access their records or records belonging to another person.
- To continue, you must accept the Intended Use Statement, certifying that you will use the information only for allowed purposes. Other items needed are the $7.87 fee paid via a valid credit card for each record requested and a printer to print it. Upon completing the transaction online, the document is provided in an electronic format. Hence, you should print the record immediately, as one it cannot save, copy, or mail the electronic file.
For businesses and other companies that request large numbers of driving records, they should:
Sign up to become registered users and complete the Registered User Agreement stating that they will use the requested information for allowed purposes by contacting (406) 285-8280
Access Driver History Records Service on mt.gov and enter their registered username and password.
Carry out their search. The fee for each record is $7.87.
To request a driving record in person,
- Complete a "Release of Driving Records" (Form 34-0100) for each record requested, providing the full name, date of birth, and driver's license number.
- Take the form to the Motor Vehicle Division Office, Scott Hart Building, Second Floor, 302 N. Roberts, Helena.
- Pay the $4.12 fee for each record requested via a check or a money order.
- Complete a Release of Driving Records (Form 34-0100) for each record requested, providing the driver's full name, date of birth, and license number.
- In a stamped and self-addressed envelope, enclose the completed form together with a $4.12 fee for each record requested. The payment is via a check or money order.
- Mail the required information and fee to Motor Vehicle Division, P.O. Box 201430, Helena, MT 59620-1430
Alternatively, a requester who wishes to receive the records via fax should enclose an additional $3.09 for each record and not send a self-addressed envelope.
Montana Traffic Violations
A traffic violation in Montana is any act that contravenes the state's traffic laws. These violations can range from minor infractions, such as speeding or running a red light, to more serious offenses like DUI or hit and run.
When cited for a traffic violation in Montana, offenders will typically have the option to pay the fine or contest the ticket in court. If they choose to contest the ticket, they will need to appear before a judge to argue your case. Offenders who do not pay the fine or show up for their court date will be subject to additional penalties, including warrantless arrest.
Montana License Plate Lookup
In Montana, Interested persons can look up Montana license plates online using the Montana Department of Justice's website. The website allows users to search by license plate number or name. Requestors can also view the vehicle's registration information, including the registered owner's name and address.
The Montana Department of Justice's website is a great resource to look up a license plate for legal purposes. However, if you are just curious about a vehicle, other websites allow you to search for license plates without having to provide any personal information. Third-party aggregate sites are especially convenient for obtaining public records with ease.
How to View Traffic Case Records for Free in Montana
A person interested in viewing traffic court records may visit or contact the Motor Vehicles Division of the Superior Court in the location or county where the traffic offense happened or where the case hearing took place. The various Montana courts are available on the state's judicial website.
Furthermore, a requesting party may visit the courthouse to view the records in paper or electronic format, depending on the court. Some courts also offer remote access to electronic records, accessible to users via court websites. However, note that access to electronic court records is subject to statutes and rules concerning confidentiality, and not all traffic records are publicly viewable.
Montana Supreme Court records are also generally available on the Public View Docket or accessed from the court's website.
How Long do Traffic Offenses Remain on a Public Record in Montana
In Montana, all the information on a person's motor vehicle record remains part of their permanent driving record. After a person is found guilty of committing a traffic infraction, points corresponding to the offense are added to their records. These are known as driving points. Driving points, also called driver rehabilitation points system, is a penalty system designed to identify and punish motorists who repeatedly violate traffic laws. The Montana Motor Vehicles Division assigns different points for various traffic violations. The number of points given increases based on the severity of the offense committed.
Conviction points will remain on a driving record for three to five years (36 to 60 months) from the conviction date. After this period, it will be removed from their license and cease to affect their insurance or suspension. However, the convictions remain permanently part of the person's driving record, and would appear on the person's Montana driving records even if the driver is convicted of a driving offense in another state.
How to Remove Traffic Records from Public Websites in Montana
The requirements for filing for expungement in Montana are as follows:
- The person must not have been convicted of any other offense in the state, another state, or a federal court for five years after completing the terms for the offense they wish to expunge.
- The person must not currently be in detention for the commission of a new offense.
To file for an expungement, observe the following steps:
- First, the individual concerned petitions the District Court for an order expunging qualified misdemeanor records.
- The Petitioner's counsel will go ahead to notify the prosecution office responsible for the conviction.
- The prosecution office must then reach out to potential victims to notify them.
- The District Court will decide on whether or not to fulfill the petition.
- If granted, the Petitioner should go to law enforcement and have their fingerprint scanned on (FD-258), a blue applicant fingerprint card.
- The Petitioner will then access the MT DOJ website and access the Expungement Form.
- Having completed the form, the Petitioner will send in the completed form, fingerprint card, and the order from the court to the Criminal Records and Identification Services (CRISS) at the state office.
- CRISS will go ahead to verify that the Petitioner has not utilized this law for previous expungements.
- CRISS will also verify the individual's identity using the submitted fingerprint card.
- If confirmed that the Petitioner has not utilized this law previously and the ID is verified, CRISS will remove the arrest/conviction data within a 30 day processing period.
Do Motoring Offenses Affect Criminal Records in Montana?
Traffic offenses are either classified as civil offenses or criminal offenses. Civil traffic offenses, also known as minor offenses, are considered minor offenses. The penalties for such infractions range from fines, tickets, etc. Such minor traffic offenses do not affect the offender's criminal record.
On the other hand, criminal traffic offenses can be misdemeanors or felony crimes. These offenses include repeated offenses that cause injury, harm, or the risk of injury or damage to another party. While a minor violation would not typically enter a person's criminal record, if the offender does not resolve it appropriately or is a repeat offender, it may result in criminal charges, thereby affecting their criminal record.
So, yes, criminal traffic offenses can enter a permanent criminal record.