While students have flocked to popular Irish pub Rí Rásince its opening in December, unclear policies regarding identification have drawn confusion and hostility from some of its younger patrons.
According to Rí Rá manager Andie Christie, the pub requires two forms of identification to be admitted at night.
“Our policy has always been to ask for two forms of ID: passport, license, state or military ID,” Christie said.
This includes accepting driver’s licenses that are both horizontal and vertical. Some states use a vertical orientation to distinguish licenses for those under 21 with a quick glance, but a person over 21 years old can still have a valid vertical license. At Georgetown, many students who have not made it to the Department of Motor Vehicles in their home states to receive a new license rely on a vertical license for months or years after reaching the legal drinking age.
Christie confirmed that Rí Rá, located at 3125 M St. NW, accepts both vertical and horizontal IDs despite the varying degrees of confusion both forms can cause.
“Vertical admittance? If that ID was valid than indeed, yes,” Christie said.
However, students who have visited the establishment in recent weeks have been surprised to find that, though they are over the legal drinking age, they were not admitted to the establishment because their licenses were vertically, rather than horizontally, oriented.
Jacob Eder (COL ’14) who visited the pub last Thursday, was surprised to find that, though he is 22 years old, he was unable to get a drink at the bar after the waitress noted his Virginia ID’s vertical orientation.
“I went with two friends who had been told they weren’t taking vertical IDs, so they brought their passports,” Eder said. “I was not informed, and even after bouncer let me into the bar, the waitress asked for my ID and she wouldn’t serve me because it was vertical.”
Eder disagrees with the policy, and believes it is actually encouraging the use of false identification.
“They’re not even looking at the birthdate — they’re only looking at whether it’s horizontal or vertical because neither the bouncer nor waitress commented that it was [my friend’s] 21st birthday,” Edersaid. “I’m 22 years old, and I’m not going back.”
Alexandra Douglas (COL ’15) had a similar experience when she went with two friends to the bar Friday.
“We walked down there at a pretty reasonable hour. Two of us had vertical IDs — we’ve all been 21 for a couple of months — but the bouncer turned us away,” Douglas said. “We spoke to the manager as well, and he wouldn’t even really explain what the policy was and told us it was up to us to order horizontal IDs if we ever wanted to come back.”
While Douglas understood why the bar would want to stem underage drinking, she did not appreciate the establishment’s lack of clarity concerning the policy.
“It’s understandable that they need to track down underage patrons, but it’s just disappointing we weren’t treated respectfully and couldn’t really understand the policy,” Douglas said.
Another area bar, Mr. Smith’s, located at 3104 M St. NW, is also under the impression that Rí Rádoes not accept vertical orientation, and noted that they would not be following Rí Rá’s apparent policy.
“Yeah, they won’t accept any vertical IDs. The problem with them is they think they’re going to misread the IDs. I’ve talked to some of the managers and that’s why they’ve gone with that,” Robert, a bar manager at Mr. Smith’s who would not give his last name, said. “The problem we run into with the vertical IDs is the picture looks a lot different. Usually they’re 15 or 16 when the pictures are taken.”
George Kennedy, a manager of Rhino Bar and Pumphouse at 3295 M St. said that his establishment takes both forms of identification.
“If your ID says you’re 21 it doesn’t matter if it’s vertical or not as long as you’re of age,” Kennedy said.