News & Politics

New Hampshire Says DC Driver’s Licenses Are Valid for Buying Alcohol

Granite State officials recognize that recognizing the District is good for the economy.

Photograph via Shutterstock.

Good news for DC residents who want to get boozy in New Hampshire: Officials in the Granite State want everyone to know that vendors of alcoholic beverages there can accept District-issued driver’s licenses as proper identification.

New Hampshire got a few days of bad press thanks to a report about Washington resident Travis Mitchell, who was left sans booze when a clerk at a Concord liquor store rejected his DC license because it wasn’t, under the strictest reading of state laws, a state-issued identification. The incident reached as high as Governor Maggie Hassan, whose office stated her intention to get to the bottom of the confusion.

Well, it turns out New Hampshire is not the state where visitors from the nation’s capital have to live free and die thirsty. The New Hampshire Liquor Commission issued a statement Tuesday afternoon stating that driver’s licenses issued by the DC Department of Motor Vehicles are, obviously, acceptable forms of identification when buying alcohol.

Per the commission:

“Although the language of RSA 179:8 does not specifically reference Washington D.C. it is understood that the District of Columbia is the capitol 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 under Title XIII. Therefore, the Division of Enforcement and Licensing’s position is that Washington D.C.’s driver’s licenses and non -driver identification cards are acceptable for the purchase of alcoholic beverages. Licensees and their employees are reminded to examine these documents to ensure they meet the physical requirements of the statute such as bearing the date of birth, name, address and picture of the individual. RSA 179:8 II., shall also apply to these forms of identification.”

In less wonky terms, the commission is looking out for the thousands of New Hampshire that sell alcohol and make up a hefty chunk of the state’s economy.

“While we are a state agency that is charged with enforcing alcoholic beverage control laws and administrative rules, we are also a $600 million retail business and must address customer service issues quickly and decisively,” the commission’s chairman, Joseph Mollica, says in the statement.

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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.