Rhode Island CDL Requirements

In State Driving Age:
Driving Between States Age:
Hazardous Age:
Exams Required:
  • Vision
  • Health
  • Written Test
  • Driving Test
IDs Required:
  • Driver's License
  • Social Security Card

In order to apply for an unrestricted commercial driver license (CDL) in Rhode Island, applicants must be at least 21 years of age. They may apply at the age of 18, but they will not be allowed to drive a commercial vehicle outside of the state of Rhode Island. All applicants will need to have been licensed previously to drive in the state for at least two years, and their licenses must not have been subject to suspension or revocation within that time. Lastly, they will need to be able to present their medical examiner’s certificates.

Written Tests for the CDL

Before applicants can receive their CDLs in Rhode Island, they will need to pass several tests. The first is a general knowledge exam that every applicant is required to take. Those who do not pass this test can take it again, but they will have to wait at least five days to do so. Those who do pass the exam will receive their learner’s permits so that they can begin preparing for the driving skills test. Study material to pass the written portion of the CDL test may be found in the Rhode Island CDL Manual, which is a free publication.

In some cases, additional knowledge tests will be required. For example, those who are going to be driving a commercial vehicle that will need to have hazardous materials placards will need to take the hazardous materials knowledge test. This specialized test will add endorsements to their licenses that will allow them to travel with hazardous materials loaded on their commercial vehicles.

How to Obtain a Temporary CDL

In order to obtain a temporary license that will be valid for 60 days, applicants will need to submit their completed applications at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). They will also need to take the following documents:

  • Their social security cards
  • Their non-commercial Rhode Island driver licenses
  • Proof that they passed the knowledge tests and the driving skills tests

The Three Parts of the Skills Test

After applicants arrive to take the driving skills test, they will need to demonstrate their abilities in three different areas. The first is in the area of inspection. They will need to be able to check their vehicles and determine that they are safe to drive. Once the vehicle is determined to be safe, applicants will be charged with showing that they know how to control the vehicle. This portion of the exam requires that they start the vehicle, stop the vehicle, make turns in the vehicle and move forward and backward.

The last part of the exam takes place on the public roads where applicants will be led into several different driving situations. They will need to show that they are adept at maneuvering the vehicle without any difficulties.


Applicants will need to pay several fees throughout the application process. The application fee is equal to $10. The additional endorsement tests that some applicants will take will require a $10 fee for each test. After applicants pass their knowledge tests, they will need to pay a $10 fee to receive their learner’s permits. When they are ready to take the driving test, they will pay a $50 fee.


Rhode Island re-licensing information states that individuals may be asked to provide a new medical exam every time that they renew. Individuals are expected to renew their license every 5 years. Failure to renew by the specified date may lead to retesting.

View Truck Driving Schools in Rhode Island that provide CDL Training. 

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