Licensing & State Laws

Even though your teen is now licensed and driving alone, Rhode Island’s multi-stage licensing process is still at work.

Limited Instruction Permit

At age 16, teens may apply for a Limited Instruction Permit. Applicants under age 18 will need to have completed a 33-hour classroom driver education course certified by the Community College of Rhode Island. Teens may begin classroom driver education when they reach the age of 15 years, 10 months. Parents or guardians of applicants must also complete a short course on the learning-to-drive process. Applicants for permits must show a certified birth certificate, a driver education certificate and a Social Security card. A parent, legal guardian, or licensed foster parent must either accompany the teen to show ID and sign the permit application or the teen must arrive with the parent/guardian signature notarized on the application.

With a limited instruction permit, your teen may only drive when accompanied by a licensed driver age 21 or older who has held a driver’s license for at least 5 years who is riding in the front seat. The Limited Instruction Permit is valid for one year. A road test will be scheduled approximately 6 months from the date you obtain your permit.

Limited Provisional License

Teens with limited provisional licenses may drive by themselves except for between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. For the first 12 months, they may not drive with more than one passenger under age 21. These restrictions do not apply if the provisional license holder is being supervised by a licensed driver age 21 or older who has held a driver’s license for at least 5 years and who is riding in the front seat. Drivers under 18 are prohibited from using a cell phone (handheld or hands-free) while driving.

Full License

At age 17 and 6 months, teens may get a full operator’s license if they have held a provisional license for at least 12 months and not received a moving or seat belt violation in the last 6 months. Night and passenger limits do not apply to teens with full licenses, although AAA encourages parents to continue to set their own additional rules. They remain prohibited from using a cell phone while driving until age 18.

A parent-teen driving agreement can help you enforce the licensing rules that the state and your family set. An agreement helps you and your teen understand the rules of the road and sends a clear message that driving is an earned privilege that your family takes seriously.

The Community College of Rhode Island is responsible for the administration of classroom driver education programs throughout the state. The Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is in charge of road tests and licensing. The DMV also oversees commercial driving schools, though in-car driving instruction is not a requirement in Rhode Island.

  • Your teen should expect to present a valid driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of auto insurance.
  • Explain to your teen that it is important to always cooperate and be respectful when speaking with law enforcement.
  • Make sure your teen understands the importance of talking to you about any encounters with law enforcement, because it can create a learning experience.

If your teen breaks a law, gets a ticket or is involved in a crash, it could lead to a court appearance and the following consequences.

  • Fines
  • Suspended driving privileges
  • Points
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Court costs
  • Insurance premium increases