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Liquor Commission rolls out welcome mat for D.C. drinkers

New Hampshire Union Leader

July 15. 2014 8:12PM

State liquor officials announced on Tuesday that no offense was intended, and that residents of Washington, D.C., are welcome to climb our mountains, swim our waters and — of course — drink our cheap booze.

The Liquor Commission said it will notify (click here to view the circular) all 4,213 of the spirits-plying restaurants, bars and stores that residents of the nation’s capital can buy and drink in the Granite State.

The memo is in the wake of news media reports that a Concord grocery store recently refused to honor a Washington, D.C., driver’s license as acceptable ID. As it turns out, New Hampshire law specifies that driver licenses from all U.S. states and Canadian provinces are acceptable IDs. The law makes no mention of Washington, D.C. —which is not a state — much less U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands or faraway Guam.

And if the law is to be read literally, residents of our northerly neighbor’s three territories will have to stay on the wagon while visiting the Granite State. As will thirsty citizens from Mexico, the other country that shares the North American continent.But at least Washington, D.C., residents can now drink heartily. Not that most places gave them a hard time.

“I don’t think it ever came up as an issue,” said Monica Poulin, manager at Republic, a downtown Manchester restaurant. “Maybe stupidly, we always assumed that D.C. was fine.”

She said Republic has seen a few Washington politicians saddle up to its bar, but they are generally beyond any suspicion of being underaged.

In a news statement issued today, Liquor Commission Enforcement Chief James Wilson said he did not believe the state Legislature intended to snub residents of the nation’s capital.

“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,” said Chairman Joseph Mollica.

As for other Americans, such as Puerto Ricans? Their licenses apparently won’t work.

“The Division of Enforcement’s statement and guidance to licensees is focused specifically on the District of Columbia,” Commission spokesman E.J. Powers wrote the Union Leader in an email.

Of course, the D.C. memo couldn’t come at a better time. This being a national and state election year, young workers are pouring into New Hampshire to work on campaigns. Democratic Party spokesman Julie McCann said she couldn’t estimate how many are in New Hampshire to work on politics. But she said many, including herself, come from Washington.

As for getting their IDs rejected? “I haven’t heard of that happening,” said McCann, who is 26. “Nobody at least has complained about that in front of me.”

McCann has never had to worry. Although she moved to New Hampshire from D.C., she still has a driver’s license from her home state of New Jersey.

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