Heeding the struggles of D.C. residents hassled while ordering beers or trying to board flights, the city government is ditching “District of Columbia” on driver’s licenses and reverting to “Washington, D.C.”
The appearance of the city’s formal name on licenses since 2013 has been blamed for confusion, with reports of concessions staffers at sporting events, clerks at liquor stores and even airport screeners apparently thinking denizens of the nation’s capital were presenting identification from Colombia or some other distant land.
Many licenses already say Washington, D.C., because they were issued before 2013 and have not expired.
“The administration determined ‘Washington, D.C.’ better represents the city and will reduce confusion in other jurisdictions,” said Lucinda Babers, director of the District Department of Motor Vehicles.
The change, first reported by WAMU, takes effect in June for people renewing and applying for licenses. And it renders moot efforts to teach people that the District of Columbia is, in fact, a real place on American soil.
The Transportation Security Administration added instruction on recognizing D.C. licenses to its training sessions after reports of agents who were not sure whether to let residents with District of Columbia licenses pass security checkpoints. And the National Football League sent its teams photos of the old and new D.C. licenses to share with concessions workers after a constituent complained to D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) that he was asked to fork over a passport while trying to order beer at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
District of Columbia licenses will still be considered valid until their expiration date. Hopefully, ID checkers trained to look out for the formal name will not be overzealous in rejecting Washington, D.C., licenses.
“Poor things; they are going to have to be untrained now,” said Norton, whose office has fielded constituent complaints over unrecognized licenses. “I have a feeling that Washington, D.C., is such a familiar name that it won’t cause the same confusion. At least, I hope not.”
License plates will also say Washington, D.C., instead of District of Columbia, while keeping the pointed “Taxation without representation” slogan for statehood. These changes also align with the city’s bid to become the nation’s 51st state.
Under the proposed statehood constitution, the city would become the “State of Washington, D.C.,” with the initials standing for Douglass Commonwealth in honor of abolitionist Frederick Douglass.