2022 Rhode Island CDL Requirements Guide

The Rhode Island CDL requirements include being at least 18 years old with a valid driver’s license.
Written by Sarah Williams
Reviewed by Brenna Swanston
To apply for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in Rhode Island, you must be at least 18 years old and have a valid Rhode Island driver’s license. 
Getting licensed to operate commercial motor vehicle drivers in Rhode Island can be complicated. Depending on the class of your vehicle, which endorsements are required, and whether or not you need to have certain restrictions lifted, you’ll be looking at a different series of tests you need to take.
Here to take you step by step through all the requirements for a CDL in Rhode Island is
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What is required for a CDL in Rhode Island? 

First and foremost, to be eligible for a Rhode Island CDL, you must hold a regular Class D driver’s license for at least two years and meet the minimum age requirements (18+ for intrastate or 21+ for interstate). 
You must also provide documentation showing your lawful presence in the United States, your Rhode Island residency, and your Social Security number.
The exact requirements vary depending on the class of your vehicle and which endorsements you need. 

Rhode Island CDL classes

There are three types of CDL in Rhode Island: Class A, Class B, and Class C. Each class allows you to operate different vehicles, primarily determined by weight and which kinds of endorsements you need. 
Take a closer look at which vehicles are permitted under each class: 
  • Class A: Any combination of vehicles with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of over 26,000 pounds, including a towed vehicle of over 10,000 pounds. Examples include: 
    • Tractor-trailers
    • Tractor-trailer buses
    • Tanker vehicles
    • Truck and trailer combinations
    • Double and triple trailers
    • Livestock carriers
    • Flatbeds
  • Class B: A single vehicle with a GVWR above 26,000 pounds or any vehicle towing another vehicle under 10,000 pounds. Examples include:
    • Straight trucks
    • Box trucks
    • Large buses
    • Dump trucks with small trailers
  • Class C: A vehicle that does not meet Class A or B criteria and is used to transport 16+ passengers or hazardous materials. Examples include:
    • Small HAZMAT vehicles
    • Passenger vans
Remember that you must have the appropriate endorsements and remove certain restrictions before you can legally drive your specific vehicle with your CDL.


There are six types of endorsements for Rhode Island CDLs that allow drivers to operate specific types of vehicles: 
  • H: for vehicles containing hazardous materials (requires a written knowledge test) 
  • N: for tank vehicles (requires a written knowledge test) 
  • P: for passenger vehicles (requires written knowledge and road skills tests)
  • S: for school buses (requires written knowledge and road skills tests, separate application forms, fees, and background checks)
  • T: for a double or triple trailer (requires an additional knowledge test)
  • X: for transportation of hazardous materials in a tank vehicle (requires a written knowledge test) 
Even with the proper endorsements, you may still need to remove certain restrictions from your CDL before you are permitted to operate certain vehicles. 


If you have a restriction on your Commercial Driver’s License in Rhode Island, you may need to have it removed before you can operate certain vehicles. Here are a few common restrictions: 
  • E - prohibits operating vehicles with a manual transmission.
  • L - prohibits operating a vehicle with a complete air brake system.
  • Z - prohibits driving a CMV with full air brakes.
  • M - restricts you to only operating a Class B or C passenger vehicle/school bus.
  • N - restricts you to only operating a Class C passenger vehicle/school bus ONLY.
  • O - prohibits driving any Class A vehicle with a fifth-wheel connection.
  • V - indicates a medical variance has been reported by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
If you want to remove a restriction from your CDL, you may have to take additional written knowledge or road skills tests, undergo medical evaluations, or even pay additional fees. 

Minimum age requirement

To get your commercial vehicle license in Rhode Island, you need to be at least 18 years old. Even then, you’re required to stay within state lines. You must be at least 21 years old to drive across state lines.

Medical requirements

Before you get your CDL in Rhode Island, you’ll have to be seen by a
National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners
doctor. They will have to complete the following two documents:
Once you receive these reports from the physician, Rhode Island law requires you to submit them to the DMV within 15 days.

New ELDT requirements for 2022

As of February 2022, there are new requirements for
Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT)
. In other words, if you’re getting your Rhode Island CDL for the first time, you’ll have to take the new entry-level driver training course required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). 
This course has to be taken through an
authorized provider
before you apply for your CDL

How to apply for a CPL in Rhode Island

Like a regular license, you’ll need to apply for a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) before your full CDL. For a CLP in Rhode Island, you can only apply at the Cranston DMV headquarters office. To schedule an appointment, call their offices at (401) 462-4368.
Before you head out to your appointment, make sure to bring your: 
You’ll also need to pass all the written exams (plus those related to any endorsements you need) and pay the fees. If you don’t pass your exams on the first try—don’t worry! You can try again after five business days.
Once you’ve got your CLP, it will be valid for 90 days and can only be renewed once. You have to hold it for 14 days before applying to take your behind-the-wheel CDL exam. While driving with your CLP, you’ll have to abide by the following restrictions:
  • You can only drive with a licensed supervisor (with the same type of CDL you are applying for).
  • You can only drive vehicles that correspond to the class of CDL you are applying for.

How to apply for a CDL in Rhode Island

Once you’ve completed your 14 days with your CLP, you’re ready to take the DMV’s CDL road skills test! All these exams are done at the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI), so you’ll need to call (401) 462-2122 to book your appointment.
For the test, make sure to bring the following:
  • Your own vehicle with its original registration and proof of insurance 
  • A licensed supervisor to act as a sponsor 
  • Commercial learner's permit (CDL)
  • Class D Rhode Island driver's license
  • Payment for the exam fees 
Once you’re all set to go, the Rhode Island CDL road skills exam starts with a pre-trip vehicle inspection. For this, you must identify and evaluate various vehicle parts. Next, the test covers basic vehicle control, running through various low-speed drills that test your reversing, turning, and fine maneuvering abilities.
Finally, you’ll do the on-road exam, where you demonstrate your ability to operate your vehicle out on the open road. 
You’ll need to pass each of the skills tests to move on to the next one. If you’re feeling nervous, consider taking a
behind-the-wheel CDL training course

How to save on car insurance in Rhode Island

Once you add up all the various fees, getting your CDL in Rhode Island can be expensive. One easy way to save some extra cash is by finding a new low car insurance premium. 
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