How to Get A CDL in Rhode Island (A Complete 2024 Guide)

How to Get A CDL in Rhode Island

So, you want to be a commercial driver in Rhode Island…

That’s an excellent career choice!

But before anything else, you must get your commercial driver’s license (CDL). 

Yes — you must undergo a different application process, complete with knowledge exams and road tests.

But don’t worry. 

You don’t have to go through it alone — we’ll be here with you!

Today, we’re going to give you a step-by-step guide on how to get a CDL in Rhode Island. 

We’ll provide all the necessary information — including what CDL class and endorsements you need, the basic requirements, and the steps, and even answer frequently asked questions. 

If you’re ready to begin, let’s go!

CDL Classes in Rhode Island

What CDL class should you get?

  • Class A CDL
  • Class B CDL
  • Class C CDL

Knowing which one you need is essential. 

Not only do you have to declare it on your application, but it also affects the kinds of CMVs you can operate.

Let’s take a look at your options.

Class A CDL

Large CMVs, like semis, big rigs, and flatbeds, require a Class A CDL. 

These are combination vehicles that have a Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of 20,001 pounds or heavier — with its towed unit weighing more than 10,000 pounds. 

Any commercial vehicle with this weight rating needs a Class A CDL. 

Now, a Class A CDL offers flexibility as it allows you to operate CMVs that fall under other CDL classes.

Class B CDL

Heavy, straight CMVs, like box vans and dump trucks, require a Class B CDL. 

These are straight vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) exceeding 26,000 pounds. You can also tow a unit, but it must weigh less than 10,000 pounds.

Although a Class B CDL doesn’t offer as much flexibility as a Class A CDL, you can still use it to operate Class C CMVs. 

Class C CDL

So far, we’ve mentioned CMVs with heavy-weight ratings. However, not all commercial vehicles are like that.

There are those with a GVWR of 26,000 pounds or less — and tow units fewer than 10,000 pounds. 

Despite being a smaller CMV, you still need a commercial license (in this case, a Class C CDL) to operate it if you use it for these purposes:

  • Carry 15 passengers or more (excluding the driver)
  • Transport large quantities of hazardous materials (enough to require placarding)

CDL Endorsements in Rhode Island

Your CDL class isn’t the only thing to choose.

Another crucial decision point is knowing which endorsements you need.

Why does it matter? 

Because endorsements signify that you’ve received additional knowledge or training for specific vehicles or loads. 

Each one requires a separate knowledge test, so you must prepare for it, too.

Now, there are six endorsements available to commercial drivers in Rhode Island:

  • T: To operate double or trouble trailers
  • N: To drive tank vehicles
  • H: To transport hazardous materials
  • X: Combination endorsement for vehicles meeting both N and H
  • P: To transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver)
  • S: To drive a school bus

CDL Requirements in Rhode Island

There’s one last thing before you begin your application — let’s make sure you’re qualified for a commercial driver’s license in Rhode Island.

Use this list to ensure you don’t miss out on anything. See how many boxes you can check off:

  • You are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • You are a resident of Rhode Island.
  • You meet the minimum age requirements:
    • 18 to drive within Rhode Island
    • 21 to do interstate commerce
  • You’ve complied with the FMCSA’s health standards.
  • You have a valid Rhode Island-issued driver’s license and have carried it for 2 years or longer.
  • Your driving privileges are active.
  • Your level of English proficiency allows you to converse and write using it.

If you left any boxes unchecked, you know what to work on before proceeding to the next section.

But if you marked everything, let’s check out the steps to getting your CDL in Rhode Island!

How to Get Your CDL in Rhode Island 

To make it easier for you, we’ll divide the process into 2 parts: 

  • Getting Your CDL Permit
  • Earning Your CDL

Each involves different steps, so let’s explore these.

How to Get Your RI CDL Permit 

Follow these steps to get your RI CDL permit: 

  1. Review the CDL classes and endorsements and decide which ones you need.
  1. Ensure you’ve complied with all the eligibility requirements (see above).
  1. Enroll in an FMCSA-approved Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT).
NOTE: All CDL applicants must comply with this if: 

You are a first-time applicant for a Class A or Class B CDL
You are upgrading your CDL from a Class B to a Class A
You have never had a P, S, or H endorsement and are applying for one
  1. Gather the following:
    1. Your RI-issued driver’s license
    2. A filled-out copy of the Application for Commercial Driver’s License form (CDL-1)
    3. 1 proof of identity and 2 documents confirming your Rhode Island address. Page three contains a complete list of acceptable documents.
    4. Proof of legal status (click here to see what you can present).
    5. A completed CDL Self-Certification form
    6. Your Medical Examiner’s Certificate from an FMCSA-accredited physician (check the self-certification form if this is required of you).
  1. Go to the Rhode Island DMV’s online reservation system and make an appointment to take your CDL computerized permit test.
NOTE: You can only take the CDL knowledge exam at the Cranston office between 8:30 am to 2:00 pm.
  1. On your scheduled visit, present everything you prepared in Step 4.
  1. Pass the general CDL knowledge exam and any endorsement knowledge tests. 
  1. Pay the applicable fees:
    1. Application fee – $12.50
    2. CDL permit fee – $72.50
    3. Knowledge exam(s) – $10 each
  1. Get your Rhode Island CDL Permit.

Now you can practice driving the CMV under your CDL class. 

However, always have a licensed commercial driver supervise you. 

How to Get Your RI CDL

Now let’s move on to the steps to getting your official CDL.

  1. Hold your CDL permit for 14 days or longer.
  1. Complete your ELDT program. 
  1. Schedule your CDL road test through the DMV’s reservation page and pay the $102.50 testing fee.
NOTE: You must take your skills test at 400 Romano Vineyard Way, North Kingstown. If you cannot make a reservation and pay online, do the following: 

Download a copy of the Registration Form for a CDL Road Test and fill it out.
Submit it with your credit card information by fax ((401) 462-5805) or email ( You can also use the Drop Box at the Cranston branch if you want to pay by check (make it payable to the RI DMV).
Wait for a DMV representative to contact you about your CDL road test.
  1. On your appointment, you must have the following with you:
    1. Your valid CDL permit
    2. Your current RI-issued driver’s license 
    3. A CMV that fits the CDL class in your application (it must be inspected, registered, and insured)
    4. 1 proof of identity, legal status, and 2 documents confirming your Rhode Island address. 
  1. Pass the CDL road test.
  1. Get your Rhode Island CDL.

And there you have it.

You’ve completed the whole process.

Now you’re a licensed commercial driver in Rhode Island. 


Frequently Asked Questions About CDLs in Rhode Island

How Much Does It Cost to Get a CDL in Rhode Island?

The standard fees for getting a commercial driver’s license in Rhode Island are as follows:

  • CDL permit fee – $75.50
  • CDL knowledge test(s) fee – $10 each
  • CDL road test fee – $102.50
  • CDL application fee – $12.50

*CDL fees as of January 2024.

However, the ELDT program can set you back several thousand dollars. There are CDL schools in Rhode Island with varying rates, but on average, it costs $7,748.

What Disqualifies You from Getting a CDL in Rhode Island?

Avoid the following if you don’t want your CDL disqualified:

  • Operating a commercial vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level higher than 0.04%.
  • Committing a felony using a CMV.
  • Leaving the scene after causing an accident.
  • Committing severe traffic violations, such as tailgating and reckless driving.
  • Failing to obey Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Regulations.
  • Driving a CMV even after receiving Out-of-Service orders.
  • Failing the background check required for a HazMat endorsement.
  • Losing your driving privileges on your non-commercial driver’s license.

What Type of CDL Pays the Most?

A Class A CDL can give you the most opportunities, resulting in higher earnings.

What are the Best Trucking Schools in Rhode Island?

If you’re looking for a good trucking school in Little Rhody, consider the following:

New England Tractor Trailer Training School

  • Address: 600 Moshassuck Ind Hwy, Pawtucket, RI 02860
  • Phone Number: (401) 725-1220 OR (800) 964-7771

International CDL

  • Address: 2227 Plainfield Pike # 3, Johnston, RI 02919
  • Phone Number: (401) 943 2235

How Do I Self-Certify a CDL in Rhode Island?

Submit a filled-out copy of the Self-Certification Form and (if required) your DOT Medical Card to the DMV office in Cranston. You must do this in person.

How Many Questions Are on the CDL Permit Test in Rhode Island?

The general CDL knowledge test has 50 questions, 40 of which you must get correctly. However, you may have to take additional exams depending on your endorsements and whether your vehicle has air brakes.

Here’s a breakdown of what to expect:

Written TestTotal ItemsRequired to Pass
Air brakes2520
School Bus2016
Hazardous Materials3024

How Long is a CDL Permit Valid in Rhode Island?

Your CDL permit remains valid for one year. Remember, you must start the application process all over again if you don’t get your CDL before your permit expires. 

The Wrap Up

And that is how to get a CDL in Rhode Island. 

Breaking it down into smaller sections can make the whole process less intimidating.

Follow all the steps we’ve shared, and you’ll get your CDL sooner than you think.

So what are you waiting for?

Go ahead and start your application today.

Good luck!

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