By Michael Phelan
Published: Thursday, December 29, 2022
An official looking envelope lobbed in my letterbox recently. It was from the South Australian Government. Like most people, this type of correspondence always makes me nervous.
Turns out there was nothing to worry about. When I ripped open the envelope and pulled out the letter, it was just a reminder that my driver’s licence was about to expire, and I needed to renew it – pronto.
Sage advice, but like with most bona fide letters the postie drops off – bills, local community info, Star Wars fan club newsletter – I tossed it in the glass bowl sitting on top of my fridge and forgot about it.
Computer says no
A package arrived at the same time as the renewal notice. But since I wasn’t home when the postie dropped it off, I had to head down to my local post office to pick it up. Plot twist: the lady behind the counter wouldn’t accept my driver’s licence as official ID.
Why? It had expired two months earlier. Yeah, it was my own fault. But still – ugh.
An inconvenience sure but no major problem. I’ll just renew my driver’s licence online. Easy right? Wrong.
When I filled in the necessary details and clicked continue, the below prompt popped up on-screen.
There are a bunch of reasons why you might not be able to renew your licence online, such as:
- Your last photo was taken more than 10 years ago
- You’re trying to renew your licence for longer than your photo is valid
- You now need glasses to drive (this condition must be recorded on your licence), or
- You don’t need glasses to drive anymore (you’ll have to take an eye test to have the condition removed from your licence).
Past my licence expiry date
Old habits die hard. Confession: I’m notorious for letting my licence expire. Like the time I let it lapse. for three years.
“You’ve lost your licence!” “You’ll have to go back on your Ps!” “They’ll make you sit the driving test again!”
Thanks for all your unsolicited advice, prophets of doom. Look, I’m not going to lie, at the time, this sort of stuff nagged at me when I went to renew my driver’s licence at Service SA. I mean, what if they were right?
They weren’t. Service SA renewed my driver’s licence on the spot. No drama whatsoever.
However there is a time limit. If you let your licence lapse for five years or more – and haven’t held another licence interstate or overseas – then you’ll have to go back to square one and:
- Pass the learner theory test
- Pass a hazard perception test, and
- Pass the Vehicle On Road Test (VORT) or complete the Competency Based Training and Assessment (CBT&A).
Once you’ve ticked off all these boxes (again) you’ll be issued with a driver’s licence.
For the term of his natural driving life
How long should I renew my licence for?
That question on the application form always vexes me. Usually, I only get it for a year even though I know it works out cheaper in the long run to renew for an extended period.
Renewal fees go from $69 for one year all the way up to $510 for 10 years. Despite the long-term savings, I ticked the one-year box. Again.
Driver licence photos are good for 10 years. After that, you’ll have to update it. If you have an out-of-date photo, you might not be able to renew your driver’s licence online (mine is good until 2031 so I can rule that out as the super-villain of my online troubles).
A new photo might be in order the next time you renew. Hopefully, you’re lucky enough to have a half-decent driver’s licence photo. Mine looks like a mug shot.
On the road again (sort of)
With the paperwork submitted and renewal fee paid, I was issued with a temporary driver’s licence. This important piece of paper was valid for one calendar month or until I got my photo licence, whichever came first.
About a week later, my photo licence arrived so I tore up my temporary licence and binned it (in the recycling bin, of course.)
The funny thing is, I don’t even drive. I haven’t owned a car since 1999 when I sold my Holden Gemini to move interstate. Yet, for many reasons, a licence is always a handy thing to have.
Especially for picking up packages from the post office.