By Jeremy Rochow and Ellen Morgan
Published: Thursday, June 24, 2021
Updated: November 29, 2021 at 1:49 pm
You’re pulled over by the police while you’re driving, and they ask to see your licence. You check your wallet or purse, but you can’t find it, leaving you in a panic.
But your worry might not be necessary. Depending on your licence type, you may not need to show it straight away.
If you’ve got a standard car licence (technically known as a Class C licence) and you’re not on your Ls or Ps, then you’ve got a bit of time up your sleeve.
While you might notice the words ‘please carry licence when driving’ printed on the card, you’re not legally required to do so.
If you don’t have it on you and a police officer asks to see it, you have up to 48 hours to present it at a specified police station.
If you don’t produce it in that time, you’ll face a $209 fine and a $90 Victims of Crime Levy.
While it’s good to know you don’t need to stress if you forget your physical card, we’d still suggest carrying it with you when possible to avoid the hassle of making a trip to the police station.
What if I have a learner’s or provisional licence?
If you’re on your Ls or Ps, you’ll need to carry your licence or permit on you when driving and show it to police immediately if they ask you to.
If you don’t, you could be up for a $205 fine and $90 Victims of Crime Levy.
Unlike drivers on their full Class C licence, learners and P-platers don’t have the option of presenting their licence to a police station within 48 hours.
Who else needs to carry their licence while driving?
If you drive a heavy vehicle – like a truck, B-double or road train – that has a gross vehicle mass of more than 4500kg, you also need to carry your licence at all times.
If asked, you’ll need to show it to a police officer immediately.
You also need a heavy vehicle licence to drive buses, trams, agricultural machinery, livestock transporters, tankers and grain trucks.
Remember, a bus is any vehicle that seats more than 12 adults including the driver.
Failure to present your heavy vehicle licence will result in a $209 fine and $90 Victims of Crime Levy.
What about a digital licence?
Ever ducked to the servo with only your mobile in your pocket? With the advent of mobile money, many of us don’t carry around our card-filled wallets everywhere we go. But what if you get pulled over by the police on your drive, and you’ve left your wallet at home? The good news is in SA, if you have a Class C licence, you don’t need to produce your physical licence.
Since 2017 in SA, you can get a digital version of your licence on your smartphone, which can be handy if you forget your physical card. Simply download the mySA GOV app on your smartphone and set up your digital licence through the app.
If you have a Class C licence, SA Police will accept a digital version of your licence. All other licence holders (for buses and trucks, for example) in South Australia are required to carry their physical licence with them at all times when driving.
That being said, RAA Road Rules Expert Stuart Churchill recommends drivers carry their physical licence at all times regardless of their vehicle class, as some businesses and other states do not accept SA’s digital licences yet.
“We recommend this as best practice; as a habit,” he says.
“While you can produce your digital licence if asked by the police, you never know what business or travel destination might require your licence as a physical form of identification.”
Many hire car companies, for example, require your physical card, so it’s best to keep it on hand so you don’t get caught out.
How much it’ll cost you if you don’t present your driver’s licence when requested.
What else do I need to know about my driver’s licence?
- If your residential address changes, you must notify Service SA either online or in person within 14 days of moving.
- If you become a permanent resident of South Australia, you must transfer your interstate or overseas driver’s licence within 90 days. Once you’re issued with a new licence, your existing licence will be invalid and you may have to surrender it.
- If you want to know your driving history, you can get a licence report that shows your current licence status, demerit points and offences for the past 10 years at sa.gov.au.