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Frequently Asked Questions - Rhode Island Teen Driver

Once applicants for a limited instructional license arrive at the DMV, they must present the all required documents for proof of identity, social security number and residency, the $10.00 testing fee and the application for instructional permit to the testing officer. If these documents are in order, they will be permitted to take the computerized test.

Those seeking their limited provisional license must present all required documents and the $10.00 driving test fee. For those who are over 18, the test fee is $25.00.

The limited instructional permit requires a 33 hour accredited driver education class through the Community College of Rhode Island or its equivalent, and will cost the applicant $75.00. Applicants may first sign up for the course when they are 15; however, they cannot be younger than 15 years and 10 months on the first day of class.

For those who have received their limited instructional permit, and who are seeking their limited provisional license, a total of 50 hours of practical driving experience with a supervising driver is required; 10 hours of the 50 must be completed at night.

A valid limited instruction permit allows the applicant to drive with any qualified supervising driver. A supervising driver is a licensed driver who is 21 years old or older, who has held a license for at least five years.

When applying for a limited instructional permit or for a driver’s license, applicants must show proof of identity and residency. Rhode Island recognizes the following documents as proof of identity:

• Certified birth certificate
• Active Passport
• Rhode Island or government issued identification card
• Certified baptismal certificate, or
• Resident alien card

The DMV will not accept photocopies of these documents for identification purposes.

Other documents that applicants must bring include:

• Applicant’s original social security card—no copies will be accepted
• Proof of Rhode Island residency
• $10.00 cash, check or money order—no third party checks will be accepted
• A signed and notarized application for instructional permit and
• Court documentation for guardians or DCYF documentation for foster parents

Adults accompanying applicants must be residents of Rhode Island and qualified as supervising drivers. A supervising driver is a driver who is 21 years or older, who has been licensed to drive for a minimum of five years. More details can be found in the Rhode Island driver’s manual.

Those who are taking the road test must bring the following documents with them:

• A valid original limited instructional permit
• Proof of insurance: this must be from an insurance company licensed to do business within the state of Rhode Island
• A certificate of 50 hours driving practice, of which 10 hours are completed at night
• A parent, legal guardian or instructor who is qualified as a supervising driver and
• A vehicle that meets safety requirements; vehicles may not be rentals and leased vehicles must show proof of lease. For further details, consult the Rhode Island driver’s manual.

The first step in getting a Rhode Island driver’s license is applying for and receiving a limited instructional permit. This permit is valid for one year, or until the applicant turns 18, whichever comes first. This first step in Rhode Island’s graduated licensing system requires that applicants:

• Are between 16 and 18 years old
• Apply for a permit at the DMV, accompanied by a parent, a guardian, an adult spouse, or a licensed foster parent
• Must pass an accredited driver education class
• Must pass a vision test
• Must be able to pass a computerized test administered by the Division of Motor Vehicles, or DMV

Those over the age of 18 are not required to take the classroom course, but must still pass the computerized test before pursuing a full operator’s license.

Once applicants have received a limited instructional permit, they must hold the permit for at least six months before they may apply for the second step in their quest for their license, the limited provisional license.

A limited instructional permit allows a learning driver to:

• Drive with a licensed driver who is 21 years old or older, who has held a license for at least five years, who is sitting in the front seat beside the student
• Passengers may be carried in the car, but they must wear a safety belt or be in a child restraint system
• No person other than the supervising driver may be in the front seat with the learning driver
• This license expires when the driver turns 18 or after one year, whichever comes first

A limited provisional license allows a learning driver to:

• Drive with supervision at any time; the supervising driver must sit beside the student while the car is moving
• Drive alone under any of the following conditions:

• Between 5 a.m. and 1 a.m.

• While driving to or from their place of work

• While driving to or from any activity where the driver is a member of a volunteer fire department, rescue squad or emergency medical service

• During the first 12 months of this license, no more than one passenger who is less than 21 may be in the vehicle; immediate family and household members are not subject to this rule.

• This license expires on the driver’s eighteenth birthday.

A driver may receive a full operator’s license when the following conditions are met:

• Applicant must be at least 17 years and 6 months old
• A limited provisional license must be held for a minimum of 12 months prior to applying for a full license
• Applicant must not have been convicted of any moving violation, including seat belt infractions within the previous six months
• Applicant must apply for license accompanied by a parent, guardian, adult spouse or licensed foster parent. Licenses cost $10.00 for a valid two-birthday period for those under 18, or $25.00 for those over 18. Fees are subject to change, so check with the DMV to verify costs.

No restrictions are imposed on hours that the driver may drive or passengers that may be carried in the vehicle once a full operator's permit is received.

All applicants for an instructional permit must pass a vision test. Applicants who wear corrective lenses must wear them at all times when driving; eyesight must be corrected to at least 20/40 vision.

A computerized test will test the applicant’s knowledge of traffic laws and rules of the road. The test is available in languages other than English by request, and has a 90-minute time limit, but averages 25 minutes to complete. Studying the Rhode Island driver’s manual and taking practice tests, like those found at, will help the applicant pass this exam.

Prior to receiving a limited provisional license or a first driver’s license, applicants must also pass a road test, which will test the driver’s skill. Applicants should get as much practical experience as possible before attempting the road test. Applicants should also remember to schedule their road test for a time before their limited instructional permit expires. Failure to do so will result in the need to retake the computerized test and a new instructional permit must be issued before the road test may be taken.