Lawmaker: TSA agents will be taught to recognize D.C. driver’s licenses


A TSA officer screens airline passengers at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in this 2009 file photo. TSA agents will be trained to recognize D.C. driver’s licenses after a spate of incidents in which the licenses’ validity was questioned. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Now boarding: anyone from D.C.

Fear no longer, District residents. Horror stories of a school teacher caught up in Arizona, or a journalist delayed in Florida for trying to board a plane with a driver’s license from the nation’s capital may be coming to an end.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), the District’s nonvoting member of the House of Representatives, announced Monday that federal authorities have agreed to take extra steps to train airport screeners to recognize District driver’s licenses, which had apparently become a vexing issue for some screeners.

The Washington Post reported in February that a District school teacher had the validity of her license questioned by an airport screener in Phoenix. Dozens of similar stories soon surfaced and many sent complaints to District lawmakers.

In July, the issue gained national media attention again when a television journalist was briefly held back from boarding a plane in Florida.

After each incident, Transportation Security Administration officials said they had redoubled efforts to make sure agents recognized the District’s three licenses now in circulation.

Norton said on Monday that after a face-to-face meeting with TSA officials, she was assured the agency was preparing to take more aggressive action.

At the beginning of each shift change, TSA will ensure D.C. licenses are part of agents shift briefings, she said. TSA will also hold a new four-hour training for travel document checkers, with an entire hour focused on licenses from all states and the District.

TSA did not immediately respond to a call and e-mail for comment.

In a statement, Norton nodded to the District’s conflicted status as a federal district, and not a state.

“D.C. residents were caught short when their licenses were questioned,” Norton said. “Residents are sensitive about invidious treatment, considering what Congress throws at them. I appreciate the remedial actions led by top officials at the TSA.”

Aaron Davis covers D.C. government and politics for The Post and wants to hear your story about how D.C. works — or how it doesn’t.
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