Yeah, yeah. Montana has changed a lot. But there are some things that you used to be able to do here, that you couldn't do anywhere else in the country. All of that fun, reckless stuff came to an abrupt end in Montana in 1999.

In an odd way, Montana's "best days" came to an end TWICE in recent history. The first time was 1974 and the second time was 1999. But that second time was for good when it comes to the topic at hand. The whole country was a little bummed, to be honest. Montana passed a law against something the rest of the country was jealous of.

Montana has been most famous in modern times for something the state didn't have. Then we got one. Then we got rid of it. Then we got one again. And we'll have it forever, I'm sure. It's a safety issue and it's just not practical to live without it anymore.

President Richard Nixon was the buzzkill the first time for Montana in 1974 when the  Emergency Energy Highway Conservation Act was signed into law. That law enacted a 55 MPH national speed limit on interstate highways. Before that, Montana enforced a "reasonable and prudent" daytime speed limit. States risked their federal highway dollars if they did not comply.

In 1987, Congress then allowed individual states to raise the daytime interstate highway speed limit to 65 MPH. THEN, in 1995 - the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995 was signed by President Clinton...which basically repealed Nixon's stuff and removed the threat of federal funds being withheld from states.

So OF COURSE Montana went back to doing what it wanted - "reasonable and prudent" it is! "Drivers shall operate vehicles at a rate of speed no greater than is reasonable and prudent.” Violations are issued at officers’ discretion." It was (fast) smooth sailing for Montana until....

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Long story short, some dude named Rudy Stanko threw a fit about a ticket he got and instead of just paying the damned thing, he took it to court in 1998 - ultimately ending up in Montana's Supreme Court. The high court decided Montana's reasonable and prudent verbiage was  "unconstitutionally vague and doesn’t give drivers fair notice of what speed is fast enough to be illegal".

Then in 1999, Montana's legislature had had enough. They enacted a 75 MPH daytime speed limit. The hot rod, dangerous times of basically driving as fast as you wanted as long as you had a safe car capable of handling such speeds were over.

By the way, the median sale price for a single family home in 1999 was about $200,000, according to FRED Economic Data. Which do you miss more?

Photo by Matthew Sichkaruk on Unsplash
Photo by Matthew Sichkaruk on Unsplash

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