News & Politics

TSA Agent Rejects DC License Because He’s Never Heard of the “District of Columbia”

Further misadventures for folks in possession of a District ID.

District residents encountering situations in which they’re required to present photo identification are having a rough week.

Not long after New Hampshire was forced to remind its alcoholic beverage vendors that driver’s licenses issued by the DC Department of Motor Vehicles are just as valid as those issued by any state came another story about a District resident being held up because someone did not accept his license as being issued by a US jurisdiction.

Justin Gray, a Washington correspondent for the Cox Media Group, was trying to get through airport security in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday when a Transportation Security Administration screener asked for his license. Gray presented his ID and was blocked from going on to the gate. As Gray explained on Twitter, the agent claimed to have “never heard of the ‘District of Columbia’” and demanded a passport.

Gray was eventually allowed to board after talking to a TSA supervisor. Yesterday, after Gray’s story started garnering attention, TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein reminded people of the District’s status:

Still, Gray is far from the only DC resident who’s encountered TSA employees who need to bone up on civics. The agency was forced to make the same capitulation in February when a District resident was briefly stopped from boarding a plane in Arizona (also sometimes known as the Florida of the West).

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.