Is it illegal to not carry your driving license?

By Jeremy Rochow and Ellen MorganPublished: Thursday, June 24, 2021Updated: November 29, 2021 at 1:49 pmYoure pulled over by the police while youre driving, and they ask to see you

Is it illegal to not carry your driving license?

By Jeremy Rochow and Ellen Morgan
Published: Thursday, June 24, 2021
Updated: November 29, 2021 at 1:49 pm

Youre pulled over by the police while youre driving, and they ask to see your licence. You check your wallet or purse, but you cant 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 youve got a standard car licence (technically known as a Class C licence) and youre not on your Ls or Ps, then youve got a bit of time up your sleeve.

While you might notice the words please carry licence when driving printed on the card, youre not legally required to do so.

If you dont 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 dont produce it in that time, youll face a $209 fine and a $90 Victims of Crime Levy.

While its good to know you dont need to stress if you forget your physical card, wed 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 learners or provisional licence?

If youre on your Ls or Ps, youll need to carry your licence or permit on you when driving and show it to police immediately if they ask you to.

If you dont, 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 dont 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, youll 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 dont carry around our card-filled wallets everywhere we go. But what if you get pulled over by the police on your drive, and youve left your wallet at home? The good news is in SA, if you have a Class C licence, you dont 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 SAs 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 its best to keep it on hand so you dont get caught out.

Driver's licence

How much itll cost you if you dont present your drivers licence when requested.

What else do I need to know about my drivers 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 drivers licence within 90 days. Once youre 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.

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