Another Reason We Need to Become a State – Less Confusion When Drinking in Oregon Bars!

Photo by PoPville flickr user Erin

“Dear PoPville,

So I was at a bar in East Portland the other day, and the bartender asks to check my ID before serving my drink. Fair enough, I think, and proceed to present my District of Columbia license. After taking a glance she hands it back, telling me “technically I’m not supposed to take these — DC’s not a state,” that the OLCC are sticklers for this sort of thing, but that she’ll go ahead and let me slide. I balked and told her “I’m pretty sure that’s not *technically* accurate.” She proceeds to lecture me on the rudeness of questioning her, a knowledgable bartender, and I think came close to asking me to leave but I bit my tongue and apologized.

I went ahead and looked up OLCC regulation on this, which appeared to support her argument.

I went ahead and sent a Tweet to the OLCC who stated that DC licenses, even Canadian and Mexican, were valid IDs for bars in Oregon. I wish they would better educate bartenders on this. Or write better regulations.”

43 Comment

  • This actually happened to me in Washington state. Group of friends and I sat down for dinner and wanted to order drinks. When the server asked for my ID, I presented her my DC driver’s license and was so confused she had to get the manager. Manager said since it wasn’t a “State-issued” ID and they didn’t recognize it I wouldn’t be served. Needless to say my friends and I promptly got up and left, taking our potentially $400+ in business with us.

  • Cc: Prince of Portland

  • Yeah, even more fun is trying to use it outside of the US. We went to Costa Rica in 2014 and rented a car. The counter guys were so, so confused. He thought I was from Colombia…the country. I said noooo. It’s DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA–DC…on the East Coast? The city where President Obama lives? No, he never seemed to get it, but let me have the car anyway.

    • only form of identification abroad is passport my friend
      try a foreign national ID in any bar in DC, you’ll have a huge chance of being rejected

      • Passports don’t work too well as proof of being licensed to drive a car, buddy.

        • LMAO! Ugh obviously I had my passport since I had just come from the airport, but yeah kind of need proof that I can legally drive, which was my DC DRIVER’S LICENSE.

      • Scrillin

        “try a foreign national ID in any bar in DC, you’ll have a huge chance of being rejected”

        That’s not true, at least on U St.

      • That’s nonsense. I used my New Zealand passport for months before I got proper ID and never once was turned down. Had to suffer through a lot of questions about sheep and nearly everyone wanted to know how I feel about Lorde though.

        • LOL! But yeah, passports will always work, but my national ID card has been regularly turned down. Annoying to carry my non-US passport around just for drinks. I know own a DC driving license. I guess I’m lucky… as long as I drink in DC.

    • Maybe the problem here was unfamiliarity with our federal system – i.e., the counterclerk expected some kind of _national_ driver’s license to go with the national passport.

  • Poor decision making on the part of the bartender. The DC ID/Driver’s License is a state issued ID, which is why it’s valid for all of the uses that residents of the 50 States use theirs for. The ‘state’ in this case is DC, which is the regional governmental authority, acting on behalf of the Federal Government in the capacity to issue identifications.

    She was trying to be funny or cheeky, I think, but she certainly wasn’t right.

    • Scrillin

      Yeah, its a small-S state, which just means sovereign government entity. Otherwise, no territorial, provincial, or international IDs would be considered valid.

      No Chamorros allowed in the Hawthorne District!

  • I’ve had this happen when I still had my Ohio license. I went to Texas, handed them my Ohio license, and was told I would not be served.

    So, it’s not just DC licenses, a lot of people just don’t know what other state licenses look like, and get confused.

    • That is not even remotely true. If this happened to you in Texas it is only the result of the extraordinary stupidity of Texans.

      • When I was still licensed in IL I had a similar experience in San Antonio. They didn’t believe it was a real ID.

      • I have a Kansas license and it is questioned ~30%~ of the time I use it in D.C.

    • I have a California DL, have shown it more times outside the state than inside. Never have had a problem

      • Yeah, because it’s California. There are millions upon millions of those. The state has a higher population than all of Canada.

  • I had this happen in the airport bar in Omaha. The woman wouldn’t serve me so I told her to go look in the ID book. She claimed she didn’t have one (what bar doesn’t have an ID book – especially in an airport where you’re likely to see ones from all over the world) and had to call someone over from one of the restaurants to look at it. And then the TSA agent questioned it. I asked for her supervisor who looked at my ID, laughed and told me to go ahead.

    And once in California, the waitress told me that she never knew people actually lived in DC.

    • Why shouldn’t she be confused? Congress apparently didn’t think people would ever actually live here either, which is why they set it up so we can’t vote.

  • I got pulled over by California Highway Patrol, and their system didn’t recognize my DC driver’s license (I guess it’s looking for letters in addition to numbers). The CHP officer didn’t believe that it was a problem with their system, and asked my wife for her license as well.

  • I wonder if these service people would be able to tell you where the capital of the Unites States is.


    “State,” when referring to a part of the United States, includes a state, commonwealth, territory and insular possession of the United States and its agencies and governmental subdivisions.

  • The definition of “state” is crucial to interpreting this statute and ORS 174.100 clearly defines DC as a state. Bartender fail.

  • I feel like there was a similar story about a bartender in NH. If I remember correctly, NH ended up revising their regs to include DC in the list of acceptable licenses.

  • I’m sure “state” is defined to include DC.

  • Poor bartenders, the meaning of “state” went all the way to the supreme court (see king v. burwell)! it’s confusing!

  • People are stupid. That is all I have.

  • I live in LA, and before I get a California Driver’s License people thought I was from Colombia, as in the country. I also had a TSA woman at LAX tell me that my DC driver’s license wasn’t a government issued ID and i needed my passport. It would be great for DC to become a state, but it would be even better for us to improve our public school system that is clearly failing these people.

  • I had similar trouble in Washington state as well. Spokane, to be exact. I was questioned at nearly every bar I patroned and even flat out denied service at a dispensary. A lot of confusion, people thinking it was fake, saying we didn’t count because we weren’t a state, one waitress went as far as to say “Sorry ma’am we don’t take foreign identifications here”. It was brutal!

  • You’d say you went to a bar in Northeast, Southeast or East Burnside. But all the Burnside bars are way too hep to be this wrong. Never had a problem with my DC ID in Portland.

    • +1 I’m from Portland and I also stopped on “East Portland” because no one in Portland would say that.

  • In our fair neighboring state of Virginia, in Richmond to be precise, a liquor store clerk was dubious about my DC license. He made a big show of questioning me about my address, birthday, etc. When I got all of that right (obviously), he still didn’t believe that DC issued drivers licenses, and proceeded to be put out when I told him to drag out the big book of state licenses to validate its existence. Sure enough, there it was. He let me purchase the booze, but wondered how DC could issue licenses if it wasn’t a state?!?! I couldn’t believe that a mere two hours from DC, someone couldn’t rationalize the existence of a DC-issued license. Sitting in the DC DMV now…trust me, they’re legit!

  • It’s a government issued photo ID with proof of age. What difference would it make if it’s a “State” or “state” or not?
    A slightly rude pseudointellectual in Portland. What were the odds you found one?

  • Portland is a beautiful, awesome city, but the service industry staff was comically rude when we were there. Nobody questioned the validity of our ID’s, but everyone seemed very confused or annoyed that we were vacationing in Oregon coming from the East Coast. I suppose it’s the same way I feel about Midwestern tourists in DC.

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