Rhode Island Learner's Permit and Driver’s License

GDL requirements

Full Privilege Minimum Age
17, 6 months
Learner Stage: Minimum Age (Years/Months)
Learner Stage: Minimum Duration (Months)
Intermediate Stage: Minimum Age (Years/Months)
16, 6 months
Intermediate Stage: Nighttime Driving Restriction
1 AM to 5 AM
Intermediate Stage: Passenger Restrictions (Except Family, Unless Noted)
No more than 1 passenger younger than 21

How to Get a Rhode Island Driver’s License

Rhode Island has a Graduated Driver License program, or GDL, that will give you time to learn how to drive in a controlled way. There are three stages to this program, from no Rhode Island license to a full license.

Completing the Rhode Island GDL takes about a year and a half. First you’ll complete a Rhode Island DMV approved driver training course and pass a written test for your limited instruction permit. Then, 50 hours of supervised driving for a Rhode Island limited provisional license. Drive with it for 12 months, or until you turn 18, and you’ll receive your Rhode Island full operator’s license.

The steps below have the details you’ll need to know in order to get your full operator’s license.

Get Your Rhode Island Limited Instruction Permit

You can start the process to get your license at 16 years old. To get ready for driving, you can download the Rhode Island DMV Handbook and start reading through it. If you are younger than 18, you will have to enroll in driver’s education.

The State offers a course through the Community College of Rhode Island.

Once you have completed the required 33 hours of instruction, you will need to take a knowledge exam. Once you’ve passed, you’ll be ready to apply for your learner’s permit.

At your local Rhode Island DMV location, you’ll need to fill out an application, bring in proof of identity, and pay a fee of $11.50 by debit card or check.

You will have to pass a vision exam so be sure to bring any required corrective lenses with you. A parent or guardian will also have to be there to sign your application.

You will be given an official paper which is your RI limited instruction permit. You’ll need to have that with you every time you’re behind the wheel.

You must have your Rhode Island limited instruction permit for at least 6 months before you can apply for a limited provisional license. During that time, you’ll need to have 50 hours of driving practice with 10 of those being at night. You will only be able to drive with a licensed driver that’s at least 21 years old in the vehicle.

Once you’ve completed the required instruction and driving time, you can apply for your provisional license.

Get Your Rhode Island Limited Provisional License 

Receiving your Rhode Island limited provisional license requires that you’ve completed certain requirements. You’ll need to be at least 16 and 6 months old and you’ll need to have held your limited instruction permit for at least 6 months.

Driving Skills Test: You will be required to pass a driving test with an evaluator who will make sure you can perform basic driving tasks safely.   Once you’re ready, you can schedule a driving skills exam at your nearest Rhode Island DMV branch location.

Before you take the test, you should check out the Top 10 Automatic Fails on Driver Tests, so you’ll know what not to do on test day.

The application fee for your license is $39.50

Your Rhode Island limited provisional license will be mailed to you and will have your photograph on it. They take your picture the day you pass your driving skills test. This license will allow you to drive alone under certain circumstances:

  • Anytime between 5:00 – 1:00 A.M.
  • To or from work or any volunteer activities
  • To or from any school sponsored event

Otherwise, you must still drive with a supervisor seated in the front seat next to you. You are also allowed no more than one passenger under 21 from another household.

Get Your Rhode Island Full Operator’s License

At a certain point, the state feels that you’ve been able to receive enough supervised driving experience that you can go out on your own. Therefore, once you reach 17 and have completed driver’s education and have had your limited provisional license for 12 months, you can get your Rhode Island full operator’s license.

This means that previous restrictions are lifted. However, you will not receive an updated Rhode Island license until that one expires. After you renew your license, you will receive your full, unrestricted license in the mail.

However, honing your S.P.I.D.E.R.Senses™ defensive driving skills is a lifetime experience.

Download the DriverZ Virtual Coach to keep practicing. It will also help you keep track of your practice hours when earning your Rhode Island limited provisional license.