The drivers licence card could soon be a relic of the pre-digital age, with the passing of a Bill to allow for digital drivers licences in NSW.

The Road Transport and Other Legislation Amendment (Digital Driver Licences and Photo Cards) Bill 2018 was passed by the NSW Legislative Council on 23 May. For the full text of the Bill as passed, click here.

Minister for Finance, Services and Property, Victor Dominello said the Bill is: "a significant step forward in delivering on the New South Wales Government's commitment to digital transformation. It will enable the digitisation of the New South Wales driver licence and the New South Wales photo card on an opt-in basis, which will provide opportunities for improvements in service delivery, privacy and security."

The Bill amends the Road Transport Act 2013 and the Photo Card Act 2005, each of which assume that a drivers licence is a physical card.

In preparing the Bill, drafters have grappled with issues relating to a card which can be physically possessed, as opposed to an image which can be displayed on multiple devices. These are practical issues when it comes to production, seizure and cancellation of licences.

The public’s appetite for the change remains to be seen. It will also impact on private enterprise to the extent that the physical card is used as a convenient form of proof of identity. Specifically, where physical cards are used to interface with systems, for example the physical card capture devices which are used in registered clubs, notwithstanding that the Gaming and Liquor Administration Act 2007 and the Liquor Act 2007 will also be amended to allow digital licences to be used as evidence of age.

In terms of disruption, there are parallels with developments in the area of autonomous vehicles (albeit at a federal level), with the National Transport Commission recently releasing a report confirming that Australian transport and infrastructure ministers have approved plans to develop laws providing for the end-to-end regulation of autonomous vehicles in Australia by 2020.