rhode island driver information
Hi there, Rhode Island driver. Breeze through our Rhode Island fact sheet for stats, traffic laws, and Ocean State licensing info.
Rhode Island driver information
Number of licensed drivers: 746,000
Registered vehicles: 789,000
Average commuting time: 22.9 minutes (national average: 25.2 minutes)
Licensing and registration authority: Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles
Rhode Island driving violations
The Division of Motor Vehicles may suspend or revoke your drivers license if you have a history of risky driving. Multiple moving violations, certain major violations like a DUI or reckless driving, or a number of at-fault accidents can lead to a license suspension.
On the flip side, a clean driving record is typically rewarded with nice, low car insurance premiums.
Penalties for DWIs
Drivers of any age who are found to have a BAC of .08 or above will be charged with a DWI (driving while intoxicated) and can face jail time, automatic license suspension, and fines ranging from $100-$5,000, depending on the circumstances. Drivers may also be required to complete alcohol or drug programs.
One more reason why you should never drink and drive (like you needed another): Rhode Island has the highest ratio of traffic fatalities involving drivers with BACs of .08 or higher — 51 percent compared with a nationwide average of 33 percent.
Underage drinking penalties
It's illegal for drivers under 21 to drive with a BAC of .02 or higher. If you're under 21 and have a BAC that's over .02, you may face a DWI or a DUI, depending on your exact alcohol consumption and number of prior offenses. Penalties may include a 6- to 12-month license suspension, a $150–$500 fine, and alcohol or drug treatment.
Cell phones and texting
Texting and driving is against the law in Rhode Island.
And for young drivers with restricted licenses, using a cell phone behind the wheel is also illegal.
Reporting a car accident
Rhode Island's DMV requires you to file an accident report if the crash caused injuries or more than $1,000 in damage. You'll need to report the accident within 21 days.
The DMV penalizes drivers who don't submit an accident report by suspending their drivers licenses.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) revealed that Providence reported 3,283 stolen cars in 2011.
The most stolen vehicles in Rhode Island are:
- 1997 Nissan Maxima
- 1994 Honda Accord
- 1998 Honda Civic
- 1997 Nissan Altima
- 1994 Toyota Camry
- 1997 Dodge Caravan
- 2006 Ford Pickup (full size)
- 1993 Toyota Corolla
- 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee
- 1999 Ford Taurus
License and registration
If you're a new resident, you're required to register your car with the DMV within 30 days.
Once it's registered, you'll need to have your car inspected within 5 days. If your ride is a 2001 model or newer, or if it was previously titled or registered in another state, you'll need to get a VIN (vehicle identification number) check.
If you still have a valid license from the state you moved from, you can convert it to a Rhode Island license without taking the road test.
License renewal through the mail
If you're traveling out of the state or country because of military deployment, work, or school when your license expires, you may be able to get your license renewed through the mail.
You'll need to get your vision tested by a licensed ophthalmologist, among other conditions, to be eligible. Find out how to renew your license through the mail on the DMV's official site.
Young drivers in Rhode Island
First-time drivers will need to follow the state's graduated licensing program, which consists of 3 steps before a full license is granted.
- Minimum age for an instruction permit: 16 years old
- You must first complete the 33 1/2-hour driver education course certified by the Community College of Rhode Island and pass a vision screening
- Lets you drive as long as you're accompanied by an adult who is 21 or older and has had a license for at least 5 years
- Minimum age for a provisional license: 16 1/2 years old
- Must complete 50 hours of supervised driving (10 at night) before applying
- Must hold instruction permit for at least 6 months without incident
- Must pass road-skills tests
- Lets you drive on your own between 5 a.m.–1 a.m. as long you carry no more than one passenger under age 21 (not including family)
- Minimum age for a full operator's license: 17 1/2 years old
- Must hold provisional license for 12 months with no moving or seatbelt violations
- Lets you drive restriction-free
Esurance guide to Rhode Island car insurance
Browse through legal requirements and potential discounts.
Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles
The official rundown on Rhode Island's rules of the road.