Green Vehicle Laws and Regulations in Rhode Island

Rhode Island enlists the following green vehicle laws to help protect the environment. These regulations include emissions test requirements, electric low-speed vehicle laws, diesel vehicle idling restrictions, and more.

Keep in mind these laws and related green driver incentives are subject to change. In addition to referencing this page, check in with your local Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) branch and the Alternative Fuels Data Center for the latest.

Rhode Island Safety and Emissions Checks

Most alternative fuel vehicles and fuel-efficient cars must undergo a biennial safety and emissions check if registered in Rhode Island. Specifically, this requirement applies to vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 8,500 lbs. or less.

Of course, there are exceptions. For example, electric-powered vehicles are exempt from emissions testing. For more on perks for eco-friendly drivers such as emissions test exemptions, see our page on green driver incentives.

Learn more about inspections with the Official Manual for Motor Vehicle Inspection and our page on Rhode Island safety and emissions checks. You can also find an inspection station near you using our Smog Check widget below.

RI Diesel Motor Vehicle Engine Idling Restrictions

Rhode Island prohibits diesel motor vehicle engine idling for more than five minutes in any 60-minute period while not in motion. However, there are exceptions such as:

  • Being forced to remain motionless because of traffic or law enforcement direction.
  • When necessary to defrost, heat, or cool the vehicle (or run auxiliary equipment) to keep the driver or passengers safe and healthy.
  • During maintenance when it’s necessary to keep the engine at the manufacturer’s suggested operating temperature.

For a full list of exemptions, consult Rhode Island General Laws 31-16.1 and 23-23-29.2.

Penalties for violating this idling restriction can be up to $100 for the first offense, and up to $500 for every offense thereafter.

Rhode Island Heavy-Duty Vehicle Requirements

When it comes to federally funded state public works contracts, Rhode Island requires all heavy-duty vehicles and generators to be powered by well-maintained engines bearing Level 3 controls. If the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) determines these Level 3 emission-control devices are inappropriate for a certain job, the requirement can go down to Level 2 (and then Level 1) as necessary.

This requirement does not apply to:

  • Snow removal equipment.
  • Farm equipment.
  • Emergency response vehicles used during a declared state of emergency.
  • Standby generators.
  • Vehicles used for equipment delivery to and from a project site
  • Vehicles used for less than 30 days over the life of a project.

Consult the Rhode Island General Laws 31-47.3-5 for complete details.

Prudence Island Low-Speed Vehicle Regulations

Operating a low-speed vehicle on Prudence Island roadways comes with a few restrictions. To do so, you must:

  • Only operate the low-speed vehicle between 6:00 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Hold a valid driver’s license.
  • Maintain proper financial responsibility (for most, this means being adequately insured in line with RI’s auto insurance requirements for low-speed vehicles).

Additionally, Rhode Island prohibits low-speed vehicles from traveling on streets or highways with a posted speed limit that exceeds 25 miles per hour (mph), except when crossing a road with a posted speed limit greater than 35 mph.

For the purpose of the laws detailed above, Rhode Island defines low-speed vehicles as self-propelled motor vehicles that run on electric or gas power, and are:

Get the full scoop under Rhode Island General Laws 31-19.4.

Find a Nearby Rhode Island Emissions Testing Station

Locate the closest RI smog and emissions testing station with the widget below:

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