Rhode Island DMV Handbook and Regulations FAQ

If you’re making preparations to apply for your Rhode Island driver’s license, then you’ll definitely want to acquire an official copy of the Rhode Island Driver’s Handbook at your earliest convenience and study it from cover to cover. All of the questions included on your written knowledge test will cover information contained in this handbook. However, you may also wish to look over the following FAQ to help you get an idea of what you can expect from the application process, as well as the process of dealing with the Rhode Island DMV in general.
How old do I need to be before I can apply for my Rhode Island driver’s license?
Each state has its own requirements to consider when it comes to eligibility for a driver’s license. However, in Rhode Island, you must be at least 16 years old to apply for your license and successfully earn your learner’s permit.
What documents will I need to bring with me when I arrive to apply for my Rhode Island learner’s permit?
The first time you arrive at a Rhode Island DMV field office, you’ll be required to prove your legal identity, date of birth, social security number, and residency in the state of Rhode Island. That said, you’ll need to bring a certified copy of your birth certificate, your social security card, and proof of your state residency (such as a utility bill or a rental agreement). If you are unsure as to whether or not a given document will be accepted as proof, contact a rep at your nearest field office to be sure.
Does Rhode Island have a graduating driver’s licensing program in place? If so, what are the stages?
Yes. As is the case with a growing number of states, Rhode Island does have a GDL program in place. In order to eventually get your unrestricted adult driver’s license, you’ll need to complete the following stages.
  • Sign up for and complete a state-recognized, DMV-compliant driver’s education course.
  • Get your limited instruction permit (and practice driving with a supervised adult that is both 21 years of age and has held their license for at least 5 years).
  • Get your limited provisional license.
  • Get your full, unrestricted adult driver’s license.
Once I get my provisional driver’s license, will I have any restrictions I’ll need to consider? What are they?
Once you have your provisional license, you will also have access to many of the same privileges fully licensed drivers will have. However, you’ll need to make sure you keep the following rules in mind:
  • You can drive at any time of day so long as you’re supervised by an adult licensed driver.
  • You may only drive without supervision between the hours of 5AM and 1AM.
  • You may drive with no more than one passenger under 21 years of age during the first year you have your license. (Exceptions can be made for immediate family members.)
At what point in the process do I need take my written knowledge test?
When you arrive at the DMV to apply for your Rhode Island learner’s permit, you will also be taking your written knowledge exam. You will need to achieve a passing score in order to qualify for your learner’s permit. Try studying with a practice test to maximize your chances of passing on the first try.
Will I need to pass a physical in order to qualify for my Rhode Island learner’s permit?
No. While some states do require would-be drivers to pass a physical, Rhode Island does not. However, you will need to pass a vision test at the time you arrive to apply for your learner’s permit.
Once I have my learner’s permit, what criteria do I need to meet in order to qualify for my provisional driver’s license?
Once you successfully get your learner’s permit, it’s time to practice driving. You will need to log a minimum of 50 hours of supervised behind-the-wheel experience. At least 10 of those hours must be completed at night. You must also have had your learner’s permit for at least 6 months before you can take your road test. Assuming you have met those criteria, then you are free to schedule and take your DMV road test at any time.
Am I required to have car insurance in Rhode Island?
Yes. Whether or not you actually have a Rhode Island driver’s license, you are required by law to carry auto insurance on any vehicle driven within state lines. The company you’re insured under must also be licensed to do business within Rhode Island state boundaries. This is the case regardless of what type of driving privileges you currently hold.
When will I be eligible to trade my provisional license in for a full unrestricted license?
You must be a minimum of 17 years of age before you are officially eligible for an unrestricted adult driver’s license complete with full Rhode Island driving privileges. You must also have held your provisional license for a minimum of one year and have had no traffic violations within the previous six months. When you’re ready to make the switch, arrive at a Rhode Island DMV field office and pay the new driver’s licensing fee of $34.50. Also be prepared to surrender your provisional license at that time. You will be given a temporary license to use while you wait for your permanent license to arrive in the mail.
How long is a Rhode Island driver’s license valid for?
If you are under 75 years of age, your Rhode Island driver’s license is valid for 5 years. If you are 75 or older, it’s valid for 2 years. When it’s time to renew your license, you’ll receive a notice in the mail from the DMV. Your renewal notice will also let you know whether or not you need to renew in person at a field office or can renew online instead. Please note that in Rhode Island, commercial driver’s licenses cannot be renewed online regardless of the circumstances. You also may not renew a license that has been expired for more than 180 days. Regardless of the way you renew, you will need to pay a renewal fee.
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