Out of the slow lane: Digital driver’s licences coming to Victoria

Victoria will become the fourth jurisdiction to introduce digital driver’s licences, with the state government to trial the plastic card alternative in the regional city of Ballarat in July before a state-wide rollout next year.

The planned trial and state-wide rollout of the new technology, announced on Monday, comes more than five years after the first digital driver’s licences were introduced by the South Australian government.

Since then, the New South Wales and Queensland governments have also either introduced or begun trialling digital driver’s licences with motorists, as a precursor to the digitisation of other credentials.

Victoria’s digital driver’s licence – which will be accessible through the Service Victoria app or the soon-to-be-launched VicRoads app – will include new security features, including a timed QR code that can used by police and business to verify authenticity and prevent fraudulent use.

A NSW digital driver’s licence

The licence will also update in real-time to reflect any changes, such as a change of address or new licence conditions, and will be useable as a proof of identity even if the licence is revoked or cancelled.

Full licence holders residing in Ballarat will be able to sign up for the pilot from June, in preparation for the start of the trial in July. The trial will be expanded to learner and provisional licence holders from September.

Trials are also expected to take place in other locations at a later date, according to VicRoads. Ballarat, which was chosen for the trial due to its “population size and the great mix of businesses and venues”, will be used to “refine” the trial process.

Feedback from motorists, licenced venues and other retailers, as well as Victoria Police, will be sought following the trial, with suggestions to be incorporated into any future state-wide rollout.

“We know Victorians want digital driver licences and that’s why this trial is such a big step before further rollout occurs,” Minister for Roads and Road Safety Melissa Horne said in a statement.

“A digital driver licence will make it easier and more convenient for Victorian motorists and it will help businesses and authorities to verify identity with minimum time and fuss.”

Minister for Government Services Danny Pearson said the “word-class technology” used for the digital drivers licence would give motorists greater control over personal information sharing.

Last year, Mr Pearson refused to confirm that the development of digital driver’s licence was an “active project”, instead only saying that “conversations are occurring” between services lead, Service Victoria, and the Department of Transport.

Mr Pearson also didn’t say if any of the almost $100 million in funding for the new Service Victoria agency would go towards a digital drivers licence project – which subsequently materialised.

South Australia was the first jurisdiction to launch digital drivers licences in October 2017 through its myGov SA app, followed two years later by New South Wales in October 2019. NSW trials began in late 2017, suggesting Victoria’s rollout could be closer to the end of 2024.

Queensland is currently trialling its digital drivers licence in Townsville ahead of a state-wide rollout slated for later this year. The trial follows a pilot in the regional Queensland towns of Maryborough and Hervey Bay that began in 2021.

In New South Wales, the plastic card alternative has been widely adopted, with more than 77 per cent of New South Wales motorists opting for a digital drivers licence. Of those opting in, almost half took up the digital licence in the first year – three times the government’s initial estimate.

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