Montana Department of Transportation

Frequently Asked Questions

Jump to questions about:

Traveling in Montana

Who do I call for road and weather conditions?
Call 511 or 1-800-226-7623
How often are road reports updated?
Our winter traveler information page and 511 system are updated every 30 minutes or as major changes occur. The information shown on the maps and reports is based upon the last known condition of the roads. Travelers should be alert to changing conditions. Load limits and construction information is updated weekly.
What do the various reported conditions mean?
Reported conditions are described here.
Where can I find road and weather conditions for states surrounding Montana?
Links for surrounding states are provided on our travinfo page.
Why are some rest areas closed during the winter?
The rest areas we close in winter were designed and constructed as summer facilities. As such, it is not cost-effective to operate them in the winter. We have winterized more rest areas to allow us to keep them open year around. MDT is also planning to construct additional facilities.
How can I request a Montana state highway map?
Please use MDT's Comment/Request Form to order highway maps.
Where can I find information about Montana bike routes and trails ?
You will find information about Montana routes and trails on our tours, trails and cycling routes page. You may also like our Bicycling the Big Sky Map.
What documents and identification do I need to travel in and out of the U.S.?
That information is available on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.
Where can I get tourist information?
Information for tourists is available at
Where will I find information about the projects MDT is working on today?
We publish information about current projects on our Active Projects page.
Where do I find information about Montana's scenic byways?
Information about this program is available on our Scenic-Historic Byways page.

Mega Loads

What if an emergency vehicle needs to get around a mega load?
Carriers have to submit a transportation plan to MDT as part of the permit process. In most cases, procedures for emergency vehicles are included as part of the transportation plan. Local law enforcement is notified of any load travelling through their jurisdictions. In some cases, a load may be traveling with a law enforcement escort.
Will the mega load traveling interrupt traffic and adversely impact communities?
The administrative rules of Montana require that loads over 18 feet wide, 17 feet high, or 150 feet long not delay traffic in excess of 10 minutes. In developing a transportation plan for the movement of mega loads, carriers examine the route and develop a system to clear traffic using pilot cars and existing turnouts that will comply with the 10 minute rule. MDT has the authority to revoke permits and issue fines if the carrier does not comply with the ten minute maximum traffic delay rule set forth in § 18.8.1101, ARM. MDT also implements time and date restrictions on the travel time to avoid conflicts with weekend, holiday and commuter traffic.
Will MDT conduct an environmental impact study or deny a permit if a load will potentially impact Montana’s natural resources and environment?
MDT has a responsibility to uphold the law as passed by the legislature and cannot deny a permit if the application satisfies the law. Provided that the existing transportation facility will accommodate the loads without infrastructure improvements, such as engaging in any ground disturbing activity the load does not require environmental review or denial of an permit application - see, § 61-10-121, MCA.
Will the highways be able to carry the weight of the loads?
Prior to granting a permit for a mega load, MDT analyzes the potential impact to bridges along the route by listing each bridge location and “design live load capacity” for each structure based upon the proposed load configuration. Based upon in service design, structure condition, bridge span and other load allowances for the structures, MDT determines those bridges with most limited capacity for the proposed configuration and identifies those structures as “controlling bridges.” MDT then analyzes the proposed configuration for those controlling bridges, and applies appropriate load and travel restrictions. If the bridge live load capacity is less than the overload, the permit is not approved.

Vehicles & Drivers

When are chains required on tractor-trailers?
Tire chains may be required at any time, anywhere in the state of Montana. They are required on the mountain passes when the chain up sign is posted.
Where do I find driver's license and vehicle registration information?
You will find this information on the driver's license and vehicle registration page.
What are the speed limits in Montana? How do I get the speed limit changed?
Speed limits in Montana and information about gettting speed limits changed is available on our Speed Limits page.
What limits are placed on loads and speeds in Montana?
This information is covered in our Load and Speed Limit Policy.
When do studded tires need to be removed from personal vehicles?
Studded tires are are permitted in Montana from October 1 - May 31. Additional information is available on our Tire Equipment and Towing Options page.
What towing restrictions apply in Montana?
Please read Tire Equipment and Towing Options.
Do you have any tips for safer driving?
Yes, you will find a wealth of this kind of information on our VisionZeroMT pages and on Plan2Live.
Where do I find information for Montana motor carriers (regulations, permits, etc.)?
MDT's Motor Carrier Services site is a convenient one-stop location for permits, regulations and other information of interest to Montana's commercial motor carriers.
Why are MDT cameras only installed in certain locations?
The department's primary reason for the cameras at various locations throughout the state is to aid our winter maintenance crews. These cameras are generally located in areas that are far removed from highway maintenance facilities. This saves our crews a great deal of time and expense by allowing them to observe road conditions at these remote locations without actually requiring them to drive there. Although this is the primary intended use of these cameras, we have also placed these images on the web for the benefit of the traveling public. We aim to add more cameras to mountain passes and other areas that experience extreme weather conditions as funding and resources become available.
I get a Netcharts license error when I try to view RWIS history
This is typically caused by a java caching error. Try clearing your web browser's cache. If that does not work, clear your java cache:
  1. Start > Settings > Control Panel > Java > Under Temporary Internet Files, click Settings, click Delete
  2. Close and try again.

Open Container

What is an open alcoholic beverage container?
A bottle, can, jar, or other receptacle that contains any amount of an alcoholic beverage that is open or has a broken seal or the contents of which are partially removed or are immediately capable of being consumed.
What is the major purpose of the law?
The law prohibits unlawful possession of an open alcoholic beverage container by a person in a motor vehicle on a highway. Montana had the highest rate of alcohol related fatalities per vehicle mile traveled in the nation in 2002 and 2003 as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The open container law helps provide the message that it is not okay to drink and drive in Montana.
Who gets the ticket?
The person in possession of the open container.
A friend of mine said that there was an exception to this law if the open container was in the locked glove compartment. Is this true?
Yes, an open container can be stored in a locked glove compartment.
Does this law allow a person to have an open alcoholic beverage container on a bus or taxi?
Yes, as long as the operator is a hired driver and has met the legal requirements of other public laws such as licensing requirements and local open container ordinances.
What about motor homes? Are open containers allowed?
Yes, in the living quarters of a camper, travel trailer, or motor home, the law allows a person to have an open alcoholic container.
What about open alcoholic beverage containers at a tailgate party?
This is permissible as long as it is not on a public highway and meets all other legal requirements such as local open container ordinances.
Does this new law have a fine for violating it as well?
Yes, a person convicted of the offense of unlawful possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in a motor vehicle shall be fined an amount not to exceed $100.

Working for and with MDT

How do I apply for a job at MDT?
Current openings, the application, and instructions are available on MDT's jobs website.
Where can I find contractor information?
Information for contractors is available on our Contracting & Consulting pages.
How do I get on the State's preferred vendor list?
Vendor registration and instructions are available at
How do I apply for DBE certification?
The application and instructions are on our forms page under the DBE Forms subheading.

Maintenance and Construction Projects

Where can I learn more about what MDT does to the roads in winter?
Information about our winter maintenance activities is available on the De-icing, Plowing & Sanding page.
What de-icing material does MDT use on the roads?
A description of the de-icer is on our De-icing, Plowing & Sanding page.
Does Montana use the metric system or English units of measure?
Montana currently uses English units of measure.
What terms are used to describe MDT's maintenance and construction activities?
For definitions, please see our Frequently Used Terms page.
How do I comment on a project that's under construction?
Contact the project manager listed for the specific project. Use the Ask MDT online form to submit a comment.
Sometimes I see work zone signs on the highway and no one is working. Did the department forget to pick them up?
Work zone signs will remain in place while construction is in progress. Even if no one is working, it is still a work zone; all regulations remain in place until work is complete on the project.


How do I file a claim for damages?
To report a loss, contact the State's Risk Management and Tort Division at 406-444-2593.
How do I find out when MDT is selling its surplus vehicles?
Information about surplus property and auctions is available on the State's Surplus Property Public Auction pages