How to Get A Driver’s License in Rhode Island (A 2024 Guide)

How to Get A Driver’s License in Rhode Island

So, you’ve just turned 16.

You know what that means — you can start working on your RI driver’s license!

Don’t worry, it’s not complicated, and we’re sure you’ll get yours in no time.

However, getting a license varies from state to state, so it’s crucial to know what you must do in Rhode Island.

Luckily, you’ve got this guide to ensure you’re on the right path.

Here, we’re going to give you a complete 2024 guide on how to get a driver’s license in Rhode Island. 

We’ll also mention the steps if you’re already 18+ years old. 

Moreover, we’ll go over some frequently asked questions, like:

  • Can you drive in Rhode Island with a foreign license?
  • What is the minimum score to pass the road test?
  • How do I transfer my driver’s license to Rhode Island? 

Are you ready to learn? 

Let’s begin!

Rhode Island Driver’s License Requirements

If you’re 16 to 17 years old, you have to undergo Rhode Island’s Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) program. 

This requires you to go through 3 stages: 

  1. Getting an instruction permit
  2. Securing a limited provisional license
  3. Receiving a full operator’s license

Each stage has specific steps to get through. 

Let’s explore these further. 

How to Get an Instruction Permit in Rhode Island

The first credential to work on is an instruction permit — and everyone must get one, regardless of age.

Because it’s a requirement for everyone, it’s essential to know the steps to get it. 

Here are the steps: 

  1. Complete a driver education course certified by the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) (this is only required for those below 18 years old).
NOTE: An online driver’s ed course will not fulfill this requirement. Go to Rhode Island’s DMV website to find an accredited school.
  1. Take your knowledge exam and get your CCRI certificate.
NOTE: If you don’t take driver’s ed from CCRI — or if you are 18+ and don’t take driver’s ed — you must take a computerized knowledge exam at the DMV office in Cranston. Make a reservation here.
  1. Visit a DMV office and bring the following:
    1. Your parent or legal guardian (for those below 18 years old)
    2. Your CCRI certificate (for those below 18 years old). 
    3. A completed LI-1 Form (Application for License, Identification Card, and Permit). If you are below 18 years old, your parent or legal guardian must sign it in front of a DMV representative. 
    4. Proof of identity, birth date, Social Security Number, and 2 proofs of Rhode Island residence. See the third page of the LI-1 Form for what documents you can use.
NOTE: If you are visiting the DMV in Middletown or Wakefield, you must make a reservation here
  1. Pass the vision screening.
  1. Pass the knowledge exam (if you didn’t already take it). Remember, this is only available in the DMV at Cranston. 
  1. Pay the permit fee:
    1. For those below 18 years old – $12.50
    2. For those above 18 years old – $7.50
NOTE: You can pay using cash, check, money order, or debit/credit card. If you pay using cards, there is a minimum transaction charge of $1.55 per transaction. 
  1. Receive your limited instruction permit (if below 18 years old) or your instructional permit (if above 18 years old).
NOTE: You can opt to schedule your road test at this time, but you can only take it after holding your permit for at least 6 months (if below 18) or 30 days (if above 18).

And with that, you’ve completed stage one!

Your permit remains valid for one year or until your 18th birthday, whichever comes first. 

If it expires before you take your road exam, you must repeat the process from the beginning.

Never forget! With a permit, you must always drive with supervision. 

How to Get a Limited Provisional License in Rhode Island

Stage 2 is only applicable to those below 18 years old. 

This license will give you more driving privileges —- but still comes with a few restrictions. 

Now, you can apply for a limited provisional license IF:

  • You’ve had your limited instruction permit for 6 months or longer
  • You’ve accumulated 50 hours of supervised driving, 10 of which must be after sunset
  • You’ve maintained a clean driving record

If you can check off everything on that list, here’s what to do next:

  1. Schedule your road test (if you hadn’t already) online or by calling (401) 462-5808.
  1. On your appointment, bring the following:
    1. A licensed driver. 
    2. Your valid permit.
    3. An affidavit signed by your parents or legal guardian confirming you have completed the 50-hour supervised driving requirement.
    4. The car for your road test with registration and insurance papers
    5. Proof of identity, birth date, Social Security Number, and 2 proofs of Rhode Island residence.
    6. $27.50 for the road test fee. 
    7. $24.50 for the licensing fee.
  1. Take and pass your road exam.
  1. Pay the $24.50 licensing fee with cash, check, money order, or credit/debit card. 
  1. Get your limited provisional license.

With this, you can drive unsupervised, but don’t forget to comply with the following restrictions:

  • You must always have your license when driving.
  • You cannot drive unsupervised between 1:00 am to 5:00 am unless:
    • You are coming to or from work
    • You are attending volunteer activities (fire department, rescue squad, or emergency medical service)
    • You are going to a school-sponsored sports activity, requiring you to travel between 4:00 am and 5:00 am because the school did not provide transportation
  • You cannot have more than one passenger under 21 for the first 12 months unless they’re immediate family members.
  • You and your passengers must wear seatbelts.

How to Get a Full Operator’s License in Rhode Island

Wouldn’t you know it? You’re down to the last stage!

You can apply for a full operator’s license when the following scenarios apply:

  • You’re at least 17 and have held your limited provisional license for at least a year
  • You’ve turned 18 and need to renew your credential.
  • You’ve kept your driving record clean.

All you need to do is visit any DMV office, present your current provisional license and 3 forms of identification, and pay the fee.

And you’re done!

But what if you’re 18 or older and applying for a RI driver’s license for the first time? 

The process isn’t that different, but to avoid any confusion, here are the steps:

  1. Get an instruction permit (see the steps above) and carry it for 30 days.
  1. For your road test, you can schedule it when you get your instruction permit, online, or by calling (401) 462-5808.
  1. During your appointment, bring the following:
    1. A licensed driver. 
    2. Your valid instruction permit.
    3. The car for your road test, complete with registration and insurance. 
    4. Proof of identity, birth date, Social Security Number, and 2 proofs of Rhode Island residence.
    5. $27.50 for the road test fee. 
  1. Pass the road test. 
  1. Pay the $39.50 licensing fee.
  1. Get your full operator’s license.

Yes, applying for a driver’s license at 18+ years old is a lot quicker — but then again, you’ll have to wait a lot longer to do the steps. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

How Long Does it Take to Get a Rhode Island Driver’s License?

Applicants who are 18 and older can get their license in a month and a half. 

However, if you’re 16-17 and following Rhode Island’s GDL program, getting full driving privileges might take anywhere between a year and a half or 2 years.

Can You Drive in Rhode Island With a Foreign License?

Yes. You can drive in Rhode Island using your foreign license — but only for a year. 

Once it expires, you must undergo the process of securing a Rhode Island-issued driver’s license.

Do You Need Road Lessons to Get Your License in Rhode Island?

For those 16-17 years old, you must complete a driver’s education program certified by the Community College of Rhode Island or an accredited driving school.

If you’re 18 and older, you still have to get a permit, but driver’s ed isn’t required.

What Do I Need to Get a Driver’s License in Rhode Island?

The standard documents you need to get a license are those proving the following:

  • Your identity and date of birth
  • Your Social Security Number
  • Your address in Rhode Island

Page 3 of the LI-1 Form contains a list of what you can present at the DMV.

What is the Minimum Score to Pass the Road Test in Rhode Island?

The examiner gives a series of instructions during the driving tests. These typically consist of driving maneuvers that you must demonstrate correctly.

Each time you don’t, you incur error points. Once you’ve accumulated 15, you must retake your driving exam.

Some violations result in an automatic failure. These include the following:

  • Not wearing your seatbelt
  • Failure to obey a Stop sign
  • Running over the curb or a cone (even if it’s just one wheel)
  • If the examiner needs to intervene
  • Colliding with a barrier
  • Committing any action that puts you and your passenger in danger

How Do I Transfer My Driver’s License to Rhode Island?

If you’ve recently moved to Rhode Island, you have 30 days to get a RI-issued credential.

Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Go to a DMV Office (those from the U.S. Territories must apply at Cranston) and bring the following:
    1. Your current driver’s license (or, if expired, it must have been within the last five years). Alternatively, you can present a certified driving record from your previous state.
    2. One proof (each) of identity and Social Security
    3. Two items confirming residence in Rhode Island
    4. A completed LI-1 Form (the third page also gives a list of documents you can present)
  1. Pay the $39.50 licensing fee.

This process also applies to out-of-state licenses that expired within the last five years. 

If it’s been longer than that, you must apply for a permit before getting a full operator’s license.

The Wrap Up

And there you have it —- how to get a driver’s license in Rhode Island. 

You can find the necessary information in this article whether you’re under 18, 18 or older, or a new resident.

Follow these steps one by one, and we’re sure you’ll have your driver’s license sooner than you think.

Good luck!

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