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After Incident, Granite State Liquor Regulators Say D.C. License Is Valid

Yes, everyone else in the U.S., this is a valid driver's license.
D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles
Yes, everyone else in the U.S., this is a valid driver's license.

The New Hampshire Liquor Commission took the unusual step yesterday of telling retailers in the Granite State that yes, a driver's license from Washington, D.C. would serve as acceptable identification for the purchase of alcohol.

The issue arose last week, when the Concord Monitor reported that a group of D.C. residents were denied the opportunity to buy alcohol at a store in New Hampshire because their licenses did not technically meet the state's rules that a passport, military card or driver's license from any of the 50 states or Canada needs to be presented as proof of age.

D.C. is not a state, but rather a federal enclave. Though it has had an elected mayor and legislature for four decades, it does not have a voting representative in Congress. Still, the city produces its own driver's licenses.

On Monday, the liquor commission sent out a circular to all retailers to clarify the law, stating that D.C. licenses would suffice as evidence of a person's age.

"Although the language of [the statute] does not specifically reference Washington D.C. it is understood that the District of Columbia is the capitol [sic] of the United States. The Division of Enforcement and Licensing does not believe the legislative intent of the statute was to omit and thereby exclude the documents as acceptable forms of identification," it said.

This isn't the first time this week that a D.C. license was singled out over concerns that it wasn't legitimate. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, a D.C.-based reporter was stopped in Orlando's airport by a TSA officer who said that his D.C. driver's license wasn't valid for boarding a flight. After informing the officer of the city's status, he was allowed to proceed through security.

Much the same happened in February, when another D.C. resident was stopped at a security checkpoint by an officer who said the city's driver's license was not valid. That incident prompted complaints to TSA from D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton.

Earlier this year, the New Hampshire House passed a bill calling on D.C. to be granted voting representation in Congress. In 2012, Mayor Vincent Gray and members of the D.C. Council traveled the Granite State to testify in support of a bill calling for statehood for the city, though the bill never passed.

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