Rhode Island Motorist Info

The following information is updated periodically. However, laws and regulations can change between updates. State statutes and local ordinances are the ultimate authorities for these issues.

Points of Interest

  • Dome light must be turned on when pulling over if stopped by the authorities after dark.

Speed Limits

Rural Interstates: Cars 65, Trucks 65
Urban Interstates: Cars 55, Trucks 55
Other Limited Access Roads: Cars 55, Trucks 55
(http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/speedlimit_laws.html)

These speed limits apply unless a different limit is posted.

Speed limits are presumed (Driving faster than the speed limit is only evidence of unreasonable speed–you can still argue that your speed was safe under the specific conditions)

Speed Limits Enforcement Techniques
Enforced through use of:
Pacing: Yes
Radar: Yes
Vascar: No
Automated Speed Enforcement: Yes
Aircraft: Yes
Laser: Yes

Ticket Payment Methods
Consult your ticket or clerk of courts

Trial By Declaration Allowed
No

Discovery
Only in DUI cases and limited documents in camera cases

Jury Trial Allowed
Speeding: No
Parking: No
Equipment: No
DWI: Yes

Note: Speeding and all minor traffic violations are handled by the Administrative Adjudication Division.

Member of Nonresident Compact
Yes

Member of Driver License Compact
Yes

When and Where to File Accident Reports
The operator of any motor vehicle involved in an accident in this state resulting in injuries and/or property damage in excess of $1,000.00, is required to report this accident in writing, within 21 days, to the Divison of Motor Vehicles, Office of Safety Responsibility, 100 Main Street, Pawtucket, RI.

If the operator is physically incapable of making out the report, it should be made by the owner within 21 days of having learned of the accident.

Resident Insurance Requirements
Liability insurance is required (although some states allow posting a cash bond or such as an alternative)
Minimum Coverage Required:
You can choose between a “split limit” or a “single limit” policy. The split limit is $25,000 per person injured in any one accident and $50,000 for all persons injured in any one accident. This also requires a minimum property damage coverage amount of $25,000 for injury to or destruction of property of others in any one accident. The single limit is $75,000 per accident for all damages.

Phone/Texting Restrictions
Hand-Held Ban: No
All Cell Phone Ban: School bus drivers and drivers younger than 18
Texting Ban: All drivers
Enforcement: Primary: for all offenses
http://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/cellular-phone-use-and-texting-while-driving-laws.aspx

Other Regulations

  • Open intoxicants are permitted in the vehicle. Consumption while operating a vehicle is prohibited.
  • The BAC level is .08%.
  • Rhode Island has an implied consent law, but does not have an administrative license suspension law. The breathalyzer refusal penalty for the first offense is a 3 to 6-month driver’s license suspension, $200-$500 fine, 10-60 hours public service, and driver school attendance.
  • Concealed weapons permit issued by any state or locality required for transportation of handguns through the state; rifles and shotguns may be transported without a permit in an unloaded condition in the trunk or storage compartment of the vehicle.
  • Studded tires are permitted from November 15 to April 1.
  • Tire chains are required under certain conditions.
  • Rhode Island has a seat belt law with secondary enforcement for all occupants.
  • Rhode Island has a mandatory child restraint law for passengers under 14 years of age. Children under age 3 must use approved car safety seats.
  • Children 5 years of age and younger are required to ride in the back seat of vehicle. Pickup trucks, two-seat sports cars, and vehicles manufactured before July 1, 1996 are exempt.
  • Rhode Island has a mandatory motorcycle helmet law for persons under 21 years of age and for drivers during the first year of driver’s licensure.
  • Registration and insurance card must be carried in the vehicle.

General Information
Telephone: 401/277-2970 or http://www.courts.ri.gov/Courts/rhodeislandtraffictribunal/PDF/KnowYourRights.pdf (Judiciary of RI, Traffic Tribunal, “Know Your Rights”)
Emergency Cellular Phone Number: *77