News & Politics

New Hampshire Doesn’t Recognize DC Driver’s Licenses as Valid ID for Alcohol Sales

Live free or die thirsty.

Image via DC Department of Motor Vehicles.

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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Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.