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Rhode Island New Resident Guide

Welcome to Rhode Island! As a new driver to this state you will need to be aware of our unique traffic laws and regulations. Here's what you need to keep in mind while driving in Rhode Island. Some of these rules may be the same as what you're already used to, but others will be drastically different!

Licensing and Residency Requirements



  • Any resident is required to obtain a Rhode Island operator's or chauffeur's license within 30 days of establishing residency.
  • Within thirty days of moving to Rhode Island and establishing residency, you must obtain a Rhode Island Operator's License as required by state law.
  • Within 30 days of moving to Rhode Island you must obtain a new title and registration for your vehicle.


Graduated Licensing Program



Learner's Permit

Requirements

  • Must be at least 16;
  • Must have completed 33 1/2 hour driver training course;
  • Must pass written test.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • Must always be in the company of a supervising driver who must sit in the front seat;
  • Permit holders and their passengers must be properly restrained.

Limited Provisional License

Requirements

  • Must be 16 and 6 months
  • Must have held Instruction Permit for at least 6 months;
  • Must not have been convicted of motor vehicle violation during that period;
  • Must have completed 50 hours of supervised driving practice including 10 at night;
  • Must pass road test.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May not drive unsupervised between the hours of 1 AM and 5 AM;
  • Permit holders and their passengers must be properly restrained;
  • Teens are prohibited from transporting more than 1 passenger under the age of 21 within the first year of provisional licensure (family members exempt).

Full Operator's License

Requirements

  • Must be at least 17 and 6 months;
  • Must have held Limited Provisional License at least 12 months;
  • Must not have been convicted of a motor vehicle during preceding 6 months.


Violation Point Counts

The amount of points that go against your driver's license for specific types of violations.



Rhode Island does not have a point system, but traffic violations are still recorded on your driving record.



Insurance Requirements



  • In Rhode Island, you must carry minimum limits of bodily injury liability - $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.
  • The minimum limit required in Rhode Island for property damage is $25,000 per accident.
  • In Rhode Island, you may decline to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage if you choose to buy only minimum limits of bodily injury and property damage liability as required by law.


Headlight Laws



You must dim your headlights from high to low beam when you are within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle, or when within 200 feet of a vehicle traveling ahead of you

You must use your headlights:

  • When driving from sunset to sunrise;
  • Any time you cannot see 500 feet ahead of you;
  • When windshield wipers are in use as a result of rain, sleet, snow, etc.

There is no specific law allowing or prohibiting headlight flashing.



Implied Consent Laws



Criminal

  • First efusal - $200-$500.
  • Second refusal (within 5 years) - Not more than 6 months and $600-$1,000.
  • Third or subsequent refusal (within 5 years) - Not more than 1 year and $800-$1,000.

Administrative

  • Suspension.
  • First refusal - 6 months-1 year.
  • Second refusal - 1-2 years.
  • Third or subsequent refusal - 2-5 years.


DUI Penalties



First Offense

(BAC greater than or equal to .08 but
  • Up to 1 year imprisonment.
  • $100 - $300 fine.
  • 10 - 60 hours community service may be ordered.
  • 30 - 180 days license suspension.

(BAC greater than or equal to .10 but
  • Up to 1 year imprisonment.
  • $100 - $400 fine.
  • 10 - 60 hours community service mandatory.
  • 3 - 12 months license suspension.

(BAC greater than or equal to .15)

  • Up to 1 year imprisonment
  • $500 fine.
  • 20 - 60 hours community service mandatory.
  • 3 - 18 months license suspension.

Second Offense (within 5 years)

(BAC greater than or equal to .08 but
  • 10 days - 1 year imprisonment.
  • $1,000 fine.
  • 1 - 2 years license suspension.
  • Court may require ignition interlock for 1 - 2 years.

(BAC greater than or equal to .15).

  • 6 months - 1 year imprisonment.
  • $1,000 fine.
  • 2 years license suspension.
  • Court may require ignition interlock for 1 - 2 years.

Third or Subsequent Offense (Felony)

(BAC greater than or equal to .08 but
  • 1 - 3 years imprisonment.
  • $400 fine.
  • 2 - 3 years license suspension.
  • Ignition interlock required up to 2 years.

(BAC greater than or equal to .15)

  • 3 - 5 years imprisonment.
  • $1,000 - $5,000 fine.
  • 3 years license suspension.
  • Ignition interlock required up to 2 years.

Other

Child endangerment

  • Driving while intoxicated with a minor under the age of 13 in the vehicle is punishable by a term of not more than 1 year, which cannot be suspended.

Alcohol education and treatment

  • May be required by court.


Open Container Law



The Open Container Law prohibits possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in the passenger area of any motor vehicle, by any occupant of the vehicle, on any public highway or right of way, whether or not the vehicle is in motion.



Red Light Violation Fines



  • Traditional enforcement: $75 fine.
  • Auto enforcement: $75 fine.


Construction Zone Penalties



Speeding violations are subject to two times the original fine, whether or not workers are present.



Turn Signal Information



Signal your intention to turn or change lanes at least 100 feet in advance.



Hazard Light Information



Hazard light use is permitted when a vehicle is disabled on any street or highway.

Hazard light use is also permitted whenever a vehicle is parked or stopped upon an unlighted roadway or shoulder adjacent to it, between 1/2 hour after sunset and 1/2 hour before sunrise. Having hazard lights activated meets vehicle lighting requirements for these circumstances.



Funeral Procession Right-of-Way Laws



  • The law prohibits anyone from "willfully" interjecting his vehicle into a funeral procession.
  • The procession must be clearly identified by headlights, flags, signs, or other devices.


School Bus Laws



Requirements

  • Vehicles are required to stop unless the highway is divided by a median strip separating lanes of traffic and the school bus is stopped on the opposite side of the median strip, or the bus is stopped in a loading zone adjacent to a limited access highway and pedestrians are not permitted to cross the highway.

Penalties

  • Failure to stop and remain stopped when required will result in a fine of up to $300 and/or suspension of your driver's license for a period up to thirty days for a first violation.


Bicyclist Passing Distance



You are required to pass at a safe distance.



Motorcycle Laws



Licensing

  • No person shall be licensed to operate a motorcycle or motor scooter unless he or she is at least 16 years of age, or unless the person previously has been issued a full operator's license and a motorcycle learner's permit or is already licensed under a prior act of this state.
  • All applicants for a motorcycle or motor scooter license must successfully complete a motorcycle rider safety class, and pass written, vision, road sign, and road tests.
  • A motorcycle learner's permit may be issued to a person who is at least 16 years old but less than 18 years old and has a limited provisional or full operator's license or is at least 18 years old and has a license. If the holder of the permit has a limited provisional license, the motorcycle may be driven only at times when the holder could drive a motor vehicle without supervision. The permit expires 18 months after issuance.

Protective Gear

  • Drivers of motorcycles or motor scooters are required to use eye protection when operating the vehicle.
  • Any operator under 21 years of age, and any passenger of any age, must wear a helmet.
  • All new operators, regardless of age, must wear a helmet for 1 year from the date of issuance of the first license.

Headlights

  • No person shall drive a motorcycle at night at a speed greater than 35 mph unless the motorcycle is equipped with a headlamp that is able to reveal a person or vehicle at a distance of 300 feet ahead.
  • Daytime use of headlight is not required.

Sharing the Road

  • Lane splitting is not authorized.
  • Two motorcycles may travel side-by-side in a single lane.


Using the Shoulder to Pass



You may not drive off the roadway to pass on the right.



Passing Laws



Do Not Pass:

  • When approaching or upon a hill or curve;
  • When approaching within 100 feet of or traversing any intersection or railroad grade crossing;
  • When approaching within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnel.

When Being Passed:

  • Give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle;
  • The overtaking vehicle may signal by honking its horn;
  • Do not increase the speed of your vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.


Speed Limits



  • Speed in excess of the following limits is considered prima facie evidence that such speed was not reasonable or prudent:
  • 50 mph during the daytime in all other location not noted below;
  • 45 mph during the nighttime in other locations not noted below;
  • 25 mph in a business or residential district;
  • 20 mph in a school zone (within 300 feet of school grounds when the school is open and warning signs are posted).


Safety Belt and Child Safety Seat Laws



Safety Belts

  • Occupants 18 years and older must wear safety belts.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for belt law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $40.

Child Seats

  • Children 7 years and younger who are less than 57 inches tall or weigh less than 80 pounds must be in a child seat.
  • Children 7 years and younger who either weigh 80 pounds or more or who are at least 57 inches tall must be restrained and may use an adult safety belt.
  • Children 7 years and younger must be in a rear seat if available.
  • Children 8 - 17 must be restrained and may use an adult safety belt
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for child seat law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $85.


Emergency Vehicle Laws



Move Over

  • When you see any of these vehicles displaying flashing lights while stopped on or adjacent to the roadway:
    • Emergency vehicles;
    • Tow trucks;
    • Transporter trucks;
    • Roadside assistance vehicles.
  • You must do the following:
    • If the roadway has at least two lanes for traffic proceeding in the direction of the approaching vehicle and if the approaching vehicle may change lanes safely and without interfering with any vehicular traffic, move the vehicle into a lane that is not the lane nearest the parked or standing authorized emergency vehicle and continue traveling in that lane until safely clear of the authorized emergency vehicle.
    • If changing lanes would be impossible or unsafe, reduce the speed of the vehicle and operate at a reduced speed until completely past the authorized emergency vehicle

Following

  • Do not follow a fire apparatus traveling in response to a fire alarm closer than 500 feet, or drive into or park within the block where the fire apparatus has stopped in answer to a fire alarm.

Collision Procedures

  • Stop at the scene or as close as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary, and remain at the scene until all requirements are fulfilled.
  • You must provide the following information to any other person involved in the accident, or any police officer at the scene of the crash:
    • Driver's name and address;
    • Vehicle registration number;
    • Show driver's license upon request.
  • Provide reasonable assistance to any injured person.
  • Notify the nearest police department immediately if the accident has resulted in injury, death, or a vehicle is disabled.
  • Unattended vehicle or property:
    • If you have collided with a vehicle that is unattended, locate and notify the operator or owner of the driver's name and address and the owner's name and address. If you are unable to do so, leave a written notice providing this information and a statement of the circumstances, and immediately report the accident to a nearby office of local or state police.
    • If you have collided with other unattended property on or adjacent to a highway, locate and notify the owner of the driver's name and address, the vehicle registration number, and show your driver's license if requested. You must also immediately report the accident to a nearby office of local or state police.
  • If the crash resulted in injury, death, or property damage of $1,000 or more, you must report the accident in writing within 21 days after the accident to the division of motor vehicles. If the driver is physically incapable of making this report, and the driver is not the owner of the vehicle, the owner must make the report.


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