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Out-of-State Vehicle Owners Can Be Out of Luck on D.C.'s Zoned Streets

District neighborhoods can vote to zone their streets, which is bad news for someone without local tags.
District neighborhoods can vote to zone their streets, which is bad news for someone without local tags. (By Tracy A Woodward -- The Washington Post)
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Off to the DMV, with "my whole life in paper: driver's license, birth certificate, five years of W-2s, copy of my fiance's driver's license, letter from him saying I was living here . . ." All those papers, and still the moment of transition was sad. "I felt like I didn't have enough time to mentally prepare for it. I handed over my Pennsylvania license, and it's shredded, and suddenly it's all over."

"I wasn't planning on living here," says Anna Forgerson, a car-free museum educator who has hung on to her Florida driver's license. "I came up here as an intern. When I got a full-time job, I thought, I really should change it." That was five years ago.

Time spent in Washington can sneak up on you.

"I've been here for nine years and am just now considering myself a D.C. resident," says Richard Nash. "I haven't lived in the same apartment for more than four years. All my friends come and go. . . . I still kept feeling like it was a temporary place. It's an easy place to see yourself picking up and leaving." He says his feelings are changing, but meanwhile, his driver's license is still from Oklahoma.

Sometimes he connects with other Sooners through the license -- like the bartender in D.C. who erased his tab -- a laminated reminder of a far-off home.

On the Mount Pleasant community message boards, residents complain that out-of-staters crowding their streets need to make the commitment. Go all in. Succumb to the insurance and the D.C. DMV, like everyone else. "How about that white car, parked on 19th by Monroe, with Arkansas plates?" writes one.

Thankfully, the poster notes, it recently got the boot.


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