Rhode Island's graduated licensing system has three components: an instruction permit, a limited provisional license, and a full operator's license.
With the instruction permit, you will be able to drive when accompanied by a licensed driver who has been driving for 5 years or more and is at least 21 years old. The permit is valid for 1 year or until you turn 18 years old. You must hold the instruction permit for a minimum of 6 months without accruing any traffic violations before you can apply for a limited provisional license.
If you're a new driver between 16 years old and 18 years old, you must apply for an instruction permit as the first step in Rhode Island's graduated licensing system. But, in order to test for the permit, you must initially complete a mandatory driver education course that's certified by the Department of Education. For information on class locations and times, phone (401) 825-1214. You can begin taking this class when you turn 15 years old and 10 months. If you are 18 years old or older, you are not obligated to enroll.
After completing the driver education course, you must take a written test with the Department of Education. The test generally takes about 20-30 minutes. If you pass, you are then free to apply for an instruction permit.
To apply for your instruction permit as a driver under the age of 18 years old, you'll need to complete the following steps:
- Visit any DMV location with a certified birth certificate (a photographed copy will not be accepted), a Social Security card, and a driver education certificate.
- You must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian who is an in-state resident and has held a license for at least five years. He or she must sign your instruction permit application in full view of a notary.
- Pay a $11.50 application fee.
If you're older than 18 years old, complete the following steps:
- Provide proof that you passed the written test.
- Bring proof of identity, signature, and Rhode Island residency. Acceptable forms of proof are listed at the end of the Application for License, Identification Card and Permits (LI-1).
- Provide your Social Security card.
- Pay a $6.50 permit fee.
Limited Provisional License
With the limited provisional license, you will be able to drive without supervision between 5 a.m. and 1 a.m. Your limited provisional license will automatically expire when you turn 18 years old.
To apply for a limited provisional license, complete the following steps:
- Call any DMV office to schedule a driving exam.
- If you are under 18 years old, have your parent or guardian sign your license application.
- Pay the $15.50 fee plus testing fees.
Full Operator's License
A full operator's license is a Rhode Island driver's license that offers full driving privileges. It carries no age-based restrictions.
To apply for a full driver's license, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must be at least 17 years and 6 months old.
- You must have had a limited provisional license for at least 12 months and not received any traffic tickets within the last 6 months.
- You will have an initial license valid for 2 years. After this span, your license will be valid for 5 years.
Testing Requirements for Teen Drivers
Written tests and driving exams let the Rhode Island DMV determine if you have the knowledge and skills necessary to safely operate a motor vehicle.
Exams take about 20-30 minutes. There are no time limits, so you can take as long as you like. All questions are based on material covered in Rhode Island's Driver's Manual.
If you are 16 years old to 18 years old, you need to take this test through the Department of Education. All applicants 18 and older can take the test at any DMV location with no appointment needed.
All driving exams must be arranged through the DMV. When you arrive for your exam, be sure you are carrying your permit and that the car you are testing in has been properly insured, registered, and inspected. If the legal owner of the car does not accompany you to the exam, you are required to furnish a notarized letter from the owner granting you permission to drive the car.