Rhode Island Driving Laws for Seniors and Older Drivers

Learn about driving provisions and special programs focused on keeping both Rhode Island's older drivers and roadways safe.

Most of the myriad rules and regulations enforced by the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) apply to drivers of all ages and stages—and the state claims it imposes no special rules on drivers based on age alone.

Still, some of the legal controls discussed here, such as requiring more frequent renewal for drivers who turn age 75, possible restrictions on a driver’s license, and procedures for securing disability parking plates and placards, may be especially relevant for older drivers.

License Renewal Rules for Older Drivers

Special rules apply to drivers who are 75 and older who seek to renew their licenses.

Time limits: Drivers age 75 and older must renew in person every two years; drivers under 75 must renew every five years.

Vision test: Required at renewal. DMV personnel will conduct a test free, or drivers can have an exam performed by a licensed eye specialist, who must complete an Eye Test Card.

Written test: May be required in the discretion of DMV personnel.

Road test: May be required in the discretion of DMV personnel.

Possible License Restrictions

The DMV can place restrictions or conditions on a person’s driver license after administering a driving test and discussing possible restrictions with him or her.

The most common restriction for older drivers is to require glasses or corrective contact lenses.

In Rhode Island, other common requirements the DMV may impose on older drivers include:

  • driving a vehicle equipped with mechanical control devices
  • driving only during daylight hours—if the need is verified by a licensed eye specialist, and
  • other restrictions it finds “suitable to the licensee’s driving ability.”

How to Request an Unsafe Driver Investigation in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island DMV has the broad authority to suspend a driver’s license if it has good evidence to believe the driver “poses an imminent safety risk to the general public.”

However, the licensing authorities do not provide specific forms or directions for filing complaints against drivers who have potentially become unsafe behind the wheel. Should you wish to report a driver, contact a local DMV office for its specific procedures.

How to Get a License Reinstated

For information on how to get back a license that has been suspended or revoked in Rhode Island, contact one of the DMV Offices located throughout the state.

How to Get Parking Placards for a Disabled Driver

Disabled person parking placards and license plates can be issued to drivers with impaired mobility if a licensed medical practitioner certifies the condition.

The placards and plates are available for those who:

  • cannot walk without the use of, or assistance from, a brace, crutch, another person, prosthetic device, wheelchair, or other assisting device
  • are severely restricted by lung disease
  • use portable oxygen
  • have a severe cardiac condition, or
  • are legally blind.

To obtain a disabled placard or plate:

Learn More About Rhode Island Driving Rules

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website has a wealth of information for Rhode Island drivers, including licensing and vehicle registration requirements.

Of special interest is the downloadable “Driver’s Manual,” in English and Spanish, which includes explanations of the laws and regulations that apply to Rhode Island drivers, as well as local rules of the road.

Where to Find a Lawyer for Help

You can use Nolo’s Lawyer Directory to find a local lawyer experienced in representing older people who need help with auto accidents or traffic tickets in Rhode Island.

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