Being the smallest state and the second most densely populated, Rhode Island can be a bit crowded at times. But that seems to add to this New England state’s charm. The first state to declare its independence from England in 1776, the long history of American freedom gives this little giant a patriotic feel. Known as “The Ocean State”, Rhode Island sports numerous beaches with grand Atlantic views and cozy seaside bed and breakfasts. The colorful Fall season is a favorite tourist attraction for the state, and an easy-going, border-to-border drive can take approximately an hour. Driving through this state doesn’t take long, so CheapCarInsurance.net has made the car insurance information hunt just as short. By providing all the necessary information in one easy-to-follow article, driving in Rhode Island is now much more simple.
LAWS & REGULATIONS
The Fall colors change in Rhode Island as quickly as the Atlantic breeze. Driving laws and regulations change quickly as well, and this organized information explains the essentials and keeps Rhode Islanders one step ahead.
Minimum Requirements for Car Insurance in Rhode Island
- Rhode Island’s Division of Insurance requires Liability Insurance on every vehicle in the state.
- Liability minimums:
- $25,000 per individual injured.
- $50,000 per injury accident.
- $25,000 to cover accident-involved property damage.
New Driver Licensing Requirements
- Drivers transferring an out-of-state license to Rhode Island must take only the vision and written tests to obtain a license. For new drivers under 18, the Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) program has been designed to help train young drivers in the skills of driving. The GDL consists of three steps:
- Limited instructional permit
- Limited provisional license
- Full unrestricted license
- Limited Instructional Permit. Applicants must complete an approved driver education class and pass the DMV computer test prior to applying for the permit. Applicants over 18 may forego the driver education course. The following applies when holding the Limited Instructional Permit:
- The applicant must have a supervisor in the vehicle at all times. The supervisor must be 21 or older and must have held a license for at least 5 years.
- The applicant must drive with this permit for 6 months.
- Limited Provisional License. Requirements to obtain this license are:
- The applicant must have held the Instruction Permit for at least 6 months with no moving violations within the 6 months preceding application to the Provisional License.
- The applicant must have passed the road skills test.
- The applicant’s 50 hours of supervised driving must be completed. This should include 10 hours of night driving.
- While holding this license, the following driving restrictions apply:
- May drive with supervision (described above) at any time.
- May drive without supervision from 5am to 1am or when driving:
- to/from work
- to/from volunteer rescue, fire or emergency medical service
- Full Operator’s License. To qualify for this license, the applicant must be at least 17 years, 6 months of age and have held a Limited Provisional License for at least 12 months without violations. There are no restrictions on a Full Operator’s License.
- Vision Screening. This test is administered to new drivers and to drivers upon each license renewal. A visual acuity of at least 20/40 is required with a visual field of at least 115 degrees with or without corrective lenses.
- Knowledge Test. Based on the Rhode Island Driver’s Manual, this test evaluates one’s understanding of the basic driving rules and regulations.
- Road Test. The test administrator will inspect the applicant’s car that he/she plans to use for the test. The administrator will check the:
- Brake lights
- Directional lights
- Hazard lights
- Turn signals
- Legal window tint.
- The applicant should be very familiar with all the controls inside the vehicle, and he/she must demonstrate operation of a variety of these controls. The administrator will take the applicant through a series of traffic situations to observe his/her vehicle control and overall driving skills.
- If the applicant fails the test, he/she must wait 30 days to re-take it.
- Instructional Permit: $10
- Provisional License: $11.50
- BAC limit: .08 Rhode Island law (§ 31-27-2) addresses DUI convictions in the state. Following is a list of pertinent penalties for a typical Rhode Island DUI:
- First Offense:
- Jail: maximum 1 year
- Fine: $100 to 500
- License suspension: 2 to 18 months
- Second Offense within 5 Years:
- Jail: 10 days to 12 months
- License suspension: 1 to 2 years
- Fine: $400 to $1.000
- Ignition Interlock applied
- Third Offense within 5 Years:
- Jail: 1 to 5 years
- License suspension: minimum of 2 years
- Fine: $400 to $5,000
- Ignition Interlock applied
- Rhode Island’s Zero Tolerance Law allows for a DUI conviction of an underage driver with a BAC of .02 or greater.
Texting & Driving Laws
Rhode Island has banned novice drivers and bus drivers from all cell phone use, according to Distraction.gov. Also, no driver may use his/her cell phone to text while driving.
Rhode Island has a sometimes awkward mix of new and old laws on its books. While it is illegal to challenge someone to a duel, it is also illegal to keep more than 11 inoperable vehicles in front of one’s house. It is illegal to ride a horse very fast on a road, and it is also illegal to coast down a road by disengaging the clutch on a vehicle.
Average Car Insurance Premiums
Rhode Island has maintained premiums above the national average for many years, and NAIC.org’s 2013 numbers show no change is expected. The state’s premiums as a percentage of income are also consistently higher than the national average but follow the same trend.
Drunk Driving Fatalities
Much higher than the rest of the nation on average, Rhode Island’s drunk driving fatalities declined slightly after their climb in 2011. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded the state’s average down 1 percent in 2012, putting it 7 percent above the nation’s. Since then the difference has narrowed with 2014 showing the smallest gap in years.
Teen Drinking and Driving
Rhode Island’s teens drink and drive slightly less than the national average, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Vehicular Theft in Rhode Island
Jumping nearly 25 points in 2012, Rhode Island’s vehicle theft rate surpassed the national average by a wide margin. The FBI reports that the number dropped significantly in 2014 and is now well below average.