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New Hampshire Doesn't Recognize DC Driver's Licenses as Valid ID for Alcohol Sales
Live free or die thirsty. By Benjamin Freed
Image via DC Department of Motor Vehicles.
Comments () | Published July 14, 2014

District residents contemplating a trip to New Hampshire might want to bring their passport if they plan on getting a drink. According to state law, driver’s licenses issued by the District don’t count as valid identification at liquor stores, as 25-year-old Travis Mitchell discovered during a visit over the July 4 holiday.

According to the Concord Monitor, Mitchell, who originally hails from the Granite State, attempted to buy some booze at the Concord Food Co-op, but was turned down when the clerk asked for photo identification and told him his DC license was no good. New Hampshire law says businesses can accept as legal proof of age a passport, military card, or a driver’s license from any of the 50 states and the provinces of Canada. The District, along with territories like Puerto Rico, are not mentioned in the regulations.

James Wilson, the New Hampshire Liquor Commission’s director of enforcement, told the Monitor his department doesn’t specifically tell alcohol vendors to refuse service to visitors from DC, but, he says, “we tell [businesses] this is the letter of the law.”

Although Mitchell was able to get his drinks at another store, he’s not alone in being held up by clerical confusion over the validity of a District-issued license. In February, a District resident flying back from Arizona was held up by a Transportation Security Administration agent in Phoenix who did not believe her DC license was acceptable. (A supervisor corrected the agent’s error, and the TSA issued a statement clarifying the embarrassing confusion.)

As for DC residents who want to get boozy in the Granite State, a fix may be in the works. Governor Maggie Hassan’s Twitter account stated over the weekend that she is “looking into the liquor ID statute.” In the meantime, anyone from the District planning a trip to New Hampshire should bring backup identification, or consider visiting a different part of New England.

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  • Steven

    By the LETTER of the law, ID is only required to buy alcohol in Hew Hampshire if the age of the purchaser is 'in question'. A store could argue the buyers age is NOT in question on the basis of other forms of ID. This is obviously a technicality, but based on the statement by James Wilson, the New Hampshire Liquor Commission’s director of enforcement that they don't tell stores not to accept other ID, I suspect they wouldn't complain much if that were the only issue.

  • KC135TopBoom

    Good for New Hampshire for no longer recognizing Washington, DC as anything more than the cess-pool third world country it really is. Now we can work on Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Los Angles, Newark, Camden, New York City, Sacramento, and New Orleans

  • gayetannenbaum

    We were able to use our Uruguayan driver's licenses to buy drinks in Indiana, where they card everyone.

  • KT

    This was not an issue for me (27, look 17) during a trip to NH just last month. My guess is bad luck and maybe a sales clerk who doesn't realize that DC is part of the US (not unreasonable in Concord). Unfortunate that the NH statute fails to recognize the entire the country. Live free or go drink somewhere else?

  • KC135TopBoom

    DC stopped being a part of the US back in January 2009.

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Posted at 01:17 PM/ET, 07/14/2014 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Blogs