How to Get a Rhode Island Learners Permit

Apply for a Rhode Island learner’s permit once you turn 16. Keep reading to learn about the state’s fees and requirements.
Written by Jessica Gibson
Reviewed by Amy Bobinger
Before you head to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), you’ve got to be 16 years old. The state also requires you to take a 33-hour driver education course and provide proof of residency. From there, it’s just a matter of paying the fee to get your limited instruction permit!
  • You must be at least 16 years old to apply for a learner’s permit in Rhode Island.
  • The state requires you to complete a certified 33-hour driver’s education course.
  • Rhode Island uses a graduated-licensing program. First, get your limited instruction permit, followed by a limited provisional license, before getting a full operator’s license.

How to get a Rhode Island limited instruction permit

Rhode Island requires that you be at least 16 years old but under 18 to apply for a learner’s permit, called a limited instruction permit. If you can’t wait until you’re 16 to start learning, you are allowed to enroll in a driver’s education program when you’re 15 years and ten months old.
Once you meet the age requirements, you must complete a 33-hour driver education course that’s certified by the
Community College of Rhode Island
(CCRI). While the state bent some rules during the pandemic, it no longer allows online driver’s ed to count toward your permit.
When you sign up for a driver’s ed program, ask about the fees. To give you an idea of how much it costs, the CCRI charges $120 plus $24.95 for the textbook. These fees are usually due before the first class starts.
In addition to the textbook, read through the state’s Driver’s Manual to learn about the rules of the road, traffic signals, and other vital information that will be on the program’s written test. You can pick up a manual at your local DMV or
download it
from the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles’ website.
After you take the driver’s ed course and pass the program’s written test, you’ll get a green CCRI certificate. Before you display it on your wall, you’ve got to take it to the DMV, along with some other important documentation!
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What to bring to the DMV

So, you know you’ve got to have the green CCRI certificate of completion, but what else does the DMV need?
Download and fill out the License/ID/Permit Application (LI-1). You’ll also need to show a birth document like a birth certificate, passport or certificate of naturalization, and your social security card. Your parent, legal guardian, or foster parent must also come with you to sign the permit application. 
Bring two documents that show
proof of residency in Rhode Island
. These could be a recent bank statement or a paycheck. If you don’t have anything official, the DMV will accept a recent school record like a report card, diploma, transcript, or ID card. Any document you present has to have your name and address on it.
Ready for some good news? You don't have to take a written test if you get your green certificate from a CCRI-approved program. However, if your driver’s ed program isn’t approved, you’ll have to pass the DMV’s knowledge exam.
At this point, you just have to pay the $12.50 permit fee—you can pay by cash, check, credit card, or money order. Then, the DMV will issue you a Rhode Island learner’s permit, which you must have for at least six months before you schedule your road exam. Your learner’s permit is valid for one year or until you turn 18 years old.

Rhode Island learner’s permit regulations

With a limited instructional permit, the driving regulations are straightforward—you can only drive when a parent, guardian, or driving instructor is in the car
After you’ve had your limited learner’s permit for at least six months and you pay a $7.50 fee, you can apply to move up to a limited provisional license. You’ve also got to complete:
  • The road test
  • An affidavit signed by a parent or guardian stating that you’ve put in at least 50 hours of driving with a supervising driver
  • 10 of the driving hours must be done at night
You’ll enjoy more privileges with a limited provisional license, but there are more regulations, too. Each passenger in your car must wear a seatbelt. During the first year of having the license, you can’t have more than one passenger under 21 years old in the car (unless it’s a family member).
On the other hand, regulations allow you to drive unsupervised between 5:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. or if you’re going to or from work.
Usually, you’ve got to be at least 18 years old to become fully licensed, but the state lets you apply if you’re at least 17 and you’ve had your limited provisional license for at least 12 months (and you haven’t been convicted of a motor vehicle violation in the past six months). Just pay the $39.50 license fee, get your picture, and congratulate yourself!
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