The Rhode Island CDL is a commercial drivers license that provides access to operating buses and trucks, depending on which endorsements you choose to obtain. Essentially, it allows you to drive commercially throughout the state. Because commercial vehicles are more dangerous to operate than regular vehicles, you will be required to go through additional testing in order to get the CDL. Additionally, you must already have a standard license.

Keep in mind that the Rhode Island CDL license is not required for chauffeurs or other drivers carrying less than 15 people in their vehicles. Instead, these drivers will need to get an endorsement on their standard licenses. To drive commercially in the state, you must first get a permit, and pass the required tests. Once you file your application for a CDL, and meet all of the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requirements, you will be granted the privilege to drive professionally on state roads, and possibly, beyond.

CDL Requirements in Rhode Island

Rhode Island CDL license requirements state that you cannot apply for a commercial license until you turn 18. However, you will not be allowed to cross state lines in a commercial vehicle until you turn 21 years of age.

Additionally, the knowledge and road exams must both be passed before you can get your CDL. More testing is required if you need to obtain an endorsement.

CDL requirements prevent individuals from getting commercial licenses if they have been convicted of a felony that involves both a commercial vehicle and a controlled substance. If they are convicted twice of the following crimes, they will also be disqualified from applying for a commercial license to drive for life:

  • A DUI charge while driving a commercial vehicle
  • A felony while driving a commercial vehicle

How to Apply for a CDL Permit in Rhode Island

To get a CDL permit in Rhode Island, you need to go to the Cranston DMV location. If you want to use your CDL for federal purposes – which means being able to use your ID to get onto domestic flights and into nuclear plants, for example – you will need to opt for a REAL ID credential. To get a REAL ID, you will need to bring:

  • Your driver’s license.
  • Your Social Security card.
  • Two official papers proving your address.

If you choose to forgo getting a REAL ID, the only items you need to bring to fulfill CDL permit requirements are a license and Social Security card. The permit application will require you to submit basic information about yourself, such as your name, address and height.

The Rhode Island CDL learners permit allows you to practice driving before you take your road exam. This practice is the best way to ensure you pass the exam. CDL permit rules state that you may only operate a commercial vehicle when accompanied by a motorist who is licensed to operate the vehicle with which you are practicing, however.

CDL Written Test in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island CDL written test requires you to answer 50 questions. You must get at least 80 percent of these questions right, which means you cannot get more than 10 of them wrong. To pass the CDL general knowledge test, you should study the entire Commercial Driver License Manual. Endorsement knowledge tests will focus on their associated chapters. This means you should spend extra time studying the Tank Vehicles chapter in order to pass the tanker endorsement knowledge exam, the School Bus chapter in order to pass the school bus endorsement knowledge exam, and so on.

The Rhode Island CDL permit test questions are multiple-choice, and the test structure is straightforward. This means there will never be more than one correct answer. Though you will technically be taking an online CDL test, this exam must be administered at a DMV office location.

Rhode Island CDL Training Schools & Practice Tests

You can find a short Rhode Island CDL practice test at the end of every chapter of your manual. These tests are designed to ensure that you understand the material presented in each chapter. The most important form of CDL prep is to study the official CDL book, because you will only be tested on the material provided in the designated pages.

Note that you do not need to go to a CDL school in Rhode Island to get your commercial license. However, CDL training must be provided by your employer if you want to get the endorsement for hazardous materials.

How to Get a CDL License in Rhode Island

If you understand how to get a CDL permit, you know how to get the license. To apply for a CDL license in Rhode Island, you will need to go to the Cranston DMV office. The Rhode Island CDL application will require you to fill out basic information about yourself, and if you want to get your CDL with REAL ID capabilities, you will need to bring your permit, Social Security card and two official papers showing both your name and address.

CDL Driving Test in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island CDL test consists of three different sections. They include:

  • Examining your vehicle before driving it to ensure that is safe.
  • Parking your vehicle using several common methods.
  • Driving on roads and highways while exhibiting proper habits.

Each of these sections is covered in depth in chapters 11 through 13 of your CDL handbook. To schedule your CDL driving test, you should call 401-825-1446. The state holds all CDL exams at the CDL test range, which is located in Quonset Point.

How to Get a CDL as a Military Member in Rhode Island

To get a military CDL means that both active military personnel and veterans may waive their skills tests, if they have driven commercially for the military. To be eligible you must prove:

  • You were not required to get a CDL when you drove a commercial vehicle in the military.
  • You have driven a commercial vehicle for the military in the past 12 months.
  • During the past two years, you have driven a commercial vehicle for the military that would otherwise require the license class for which you are seeking.

The process of getting a CDL for veterans in Rhode Island without military-based commercial driving experience is the same process used by civilians. That said, you will be able to get a veteran designation on your CDL by submitting the Veteran Designation form; this service comes free-of-charge.

CDL Medical Exams in Rhode Island

New DOT physical requirements in Rhode Island state that the majority of applicants will need to submit a Medical Examiner’s Certificate when they apply for their licenses. You must get your certificate from a DOT medical examiner who is a member of the FMCSA’s National Registry.

The CDL physical will check for any physical ailments that could prevent you from safely operating your commercial vehicle. These types of ailments include blindness, deafness, diabetes and heart conditions. If the Rhode Island CDL medical exam discovers a medical condition that prevents you from driving commercially in most situations, you will still be able to engage in excepted commercial driving. These forms of driving include, but are not limited to:

  • School bus driving.
  • Medical/mortuary driving.
  • Non-combination farm driving.

The above forms of driving are excepted interstate. You will need to contact the DMV to determine what forms of excepted intrastate driving are available to you. For questions about intrastate and interstate CDL driving, continue to the designated section below.

Types of CDL Classes in Rhode Island

Rhode Island offers three different classes of CDL licenses: the Class A license, the Class B license and the Class C license. Which class you choose to obtain will vary, based on the weight, towing capabilities and purpose of the vehicle you want to drive commercially. To further define each class, consider that:

  • The Class A CDL allows you to operate combination vehicles that weigh at least 26,001 pounds. You are allowed to tow a vehicle or group of vehicles that weighs 10,000 or more pounds.
  • The Class B CDL allows you to operate single vehicles that weigh at least 26,001 pounds. You are allowed to tow a vehicle weighing no more than 10,000 pounds.
  • The Class C CDL allows you to operate a vehicle that is designed to transport 16 or more people (including yourself), or a vehicle that can carry hazardous materials. Which type of vehicle you are able to operate will vary, based on what endorsement(s) you choose.

Types of CDL Endorsements in Rhode Island

CDL endorsements in Rhode Island grant you additional privileges. You must take added testing to get the following endorsements:

  • Hazmat Endorsement
  • Tanker Endorsement
  • Tanker/Hazmat Endorsement
  • Passenger Endorsement
  • School Bus Endorsement
  • Doubles/Triples Endorsement

Interstate vs. Intrastate Commercial Drivers Licenses in Rhode Island

Rhode Island offers two different license designations: the intrastate CDL and the interstate CDL. The intrastate license only allows drivers to operate their commercial vehicles inside of state lines. However, the interstate license allows drivers to cross state lines when operating their commercial vehicles.

Some drivers will be required to do both interstate and intrastate commercial driving. In this case, the interstate designation is still required.

Commercial Driving License Fees in Rhode Island

The CDL permit cost and CDL license cost in Rhode Island is the same for all drivers, though additional fees will be added, depending on the number of knowledge exams you need to take. Consider the below figures when applying for commercial driving credentials in the state:

  • You need to pay $10 to start the application process
  • You need to pay $10 for each knowledge exam you take
  • The CDL permit costs $20
  • The CDL license costs $100 (this includes the cost of your road exam)
Last updated on Thursday, March 5 2020.