D.C. customers at N.H. store denied alcohol because law didn't recognize District licenses
CONCORD, N.H. (WJLA) - A couple of District of Columbia residents were turned away when they tried to purchase alcohol at a Concord, N.H. co-op last week because of an omission in the wording of the state's law.
Under a New Hampshire state law that was enacted in 1990, businesses that sell alcohol are allowed to accept a driver’s license from any of the 50 states, but D.C. is not mentioned.
The manager at the co-op told the customers they often apologize and ask anyone with a D.C. driver's license to either show an alternative ID, such as a passport, or to simply purchase the alcohol at another business.
While some businesses like the Concord Food Co-op follow the law very closely, other business owners reportedly told the Concord Monitor that they would not turn away someone with a D.C. license.
An official with the New Hampshire Liquor Commission initially told the Monitor that while they don’t specifically tell businesses not to sell to those with a D.C. license, the “statute is still the final authority.”
However, the commission published an official statement Monday on its website in response to all the confusion, stating that any customer showing a valid ID from D.C. should not be denied purchasing alcohol.
"Although the language of RSA 179:8 does not specifically reference Washington D.C., it is understood that the District of Columbia is the capital 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," wrote James Wilson, director of the Division of Enforcement and Licensing. "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."
This isn't the first time a D.C. license has proven troublesome for residents. Last week, Justin Gray, a reporter for Cox Media’s D.C. bureau was flying out of an Orlando, Fla. airport. He was stopped by a TSA agent, who told him that his D.C. driver's license wasn't a valid form of identification. Not only was the agent unfamiliar with what the new D.C. license looked like, he was also unaware that the District was part of the United States.
Back in February, a similar incident occurred at a Phoenix airport. In both cases, a supervisor intervened and corrected the situation, allowing the traveler to continue through security.
Some critics of the Transportation Security Administration are expressing concern over the lack of what is considered basic geographic knowledge.