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Australia is finally getting digital driver’s licences

Residents of New South Wales will soon be able to flash a digital driver’s licence on their phones when they get pulled over. And if the program is a success, Aussies can expect other states to follow suit.

The project should get under way before the end of this year, after a trial period conducted by the NSW Police. And once it gets going, it’s going to start with a small pilot project, with a few lucky participants being allowed to try out digital driver’s licences. But the exact location of the pilot project hasn’t been announced yet.

This is the culmination of a project costing more than $12 million to date, which has already led to several other types of licences going digital in NSW, including digital competency cards for the NSW Recreational Fishing Fee (fishing licence), Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA), and Responsible Conduct of Gambling (RCG).

There’s also the upcoming digital boat licence, and you can get an idea of how it will work by watching the project testers in action — they think of everything, including issues involving glare on the phone screen while out on the water, and cracked phone screens:

And aside from the obvious convenience of having your driver’s licence accessible via your smartphone or tablet, this should also make it harder for any of you sneaky underaged types to use your cousin’s old ID card to buy booze.

Of course, fraud is still a possibility, and perhaps even more so given how savvy people can be with technology. But the police testing phase will probably be taking a closer look at questions of reliability.

Before it gets underway, legislators will first have to pass the upcoming Electronic Transactions Legislation Amendment (Government Transactions) Bill 2017. But the bill is expected to pass without issue.

That means no more saying “I forgot my licence at home” — if your phone’s charged up, you should be able to prove your identity.

So far, the reviews are positive on the other digital licences that have been released. As one fisherman points out, the old paper fishing licence inevitably ended up getting ruined by water. Whereas people are usually more careful with their phones:

So will physical cards soon be a thing of the past? Possibly. But one great thing about physical licences that phones will never be able to match: the batteries never run out.

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