Complete Guide to Dealing with DUI Security Clearance
For individuals living and working in Washington D.C., questions about DUI and security clearance are common. Here’s everything you need to know.
DUI Security Clearance
Chances are if you live in Washington D.C., you or someone you know works with or for the government. Government and military jobs come with many benefits. However, because an employee or government contractor may handle classified information or even top secret data, they also may come with some restrictions, such as the need for a security clearance.
What Is a Security Clearance?
A security clearance is a process and designation made in order to keep classified information out of the wrong hands. The federal government regulates the issuing of licenses for individuals to access this information. The level of access to information needed will usually determine what level of clearance the applicant needs.
There are three primary types of security clearances:
- Confidential security clearance – this is the lowest level of clearance.
- Secret clearance – this is an intermediary level of clearance.
- Top Secret clearance – this is the highest level of clearance.
Public Trust and Controlled Unclassified are lower designations that do not constitute security clearances but typically involve a background check. The Department of State provides more information about the various types of security clearances here, including details on how the process of obtaining a clearance works.
Can You Get a Security Clearance with a DUI?
Since DUI is, unfortunately, a very common crime, many people face the difficult question of whether they can get a security clearance after being arrested for a DUI or getting a DUI conviction. The answer is not always clear, but your defense attorney can help you understand the possible impact of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
One single, simple DUI arrest will often not impact an individual’s ability to obtain a security clearance. However, there are many factors at play. The individual must comply with law enforcement and court orders, including driving safety classes, drug and alcohol counseling, or anything else that is mandated.
If the DUI involved the abuse of drugs or if there are other factors involved, such as a hit and run or a track record of multiple DUIs, then the situation is a little different. According to the federal government, security clearances cannot be given to individuals who unlawfully use or are addicted to drugs. Other criminal convictions can also have a negative effect on obtaining a security clearance since there are rules about felony crimes, crimes that involve dishonesty, and crimes that could make an individual vulnerable to blackmail.
Secret Security Clearance DUI
For Secret and Top Secret clearance, the requirements are largely the same as for Confidential clearance. The difference is that the investigation is much more thorough.
For lower levels of security, much of the background check process is automated. For Secret clearance, however, agents are required to interview people who knew the applicant over the past seven years or more. The interview process could include coworkers, family members, and roommates.
Secret clearance requires reinvestigation every 10 years. So, even if you already have your clearance when you face a DUI conviction, the government could find out about it at your next review.
DUI and Security Clearance Re-approval
The question of if you can keep your security clearance after a DUI charge is much the same as if you can obtain one in the first place. The government considers clearances on a case by case basis, and many factors are considered.
While one conviction may not be enough to bar you from keeping or obtaining a security clearance, a pattern of breaking the law, another criminal conviction, or multiple DUI charges would likely prohibit you from being approved.
During the investigation, the government considers the whole person. This is a good thing since it means they don’t consider your crime as the only factor. But, it also means you cannot hide a crime under a stellar professional or academic record, since they are taking it all into consideration. They will also take into account whether or not In addition to the conduct itself, the agency will consider whether you were convicted, when the incident occurred, and other mitigating factors.
You have the chance to present mitigating information as well, and you can appeal an adverse decision. Mitigating factors might include proof that you have attended alcohol counseling or are otherwise managing your alcohol consumption.
Security Clearance with DUI
Learn more about security clearance and criminal charges, in one of our recent posts on the Scrofano Law blog.
Will a DUI Disqualify You from Security Clearance?
All in all, a DUI conviction is not a death sentence for your current government employment or your hopes of working for the government. Although being charged with a DUI can make obtaining approval more difficult, driving under the influence does not take away an individual’s ability to obtain clearance. Your first DUI is a concern, and questions will likely be asked, but it is not necessarily an automatic bar.
On the other hand, there are some criminal charges for which an arrest can bar you from security clearance. Theft, embezzlement, and perjury, among other crimes involving dishonesty, are likely to affect a person’s ability to be approved. Being charged with a felony is also grounds for removing an individual’s security clearance or disapproving their application.
Getting a Security Clearance with a DUI or Criminal Record
Many people in Washington D.C. rely on government employment. Due to security requirements, one mistake can affect their entire livelihoods. If you are arrested for a DUI or other criminal offense, your best course of action is to contact a DUI defense attorney like Christopher Mutimer of Scrofano Law, PC.
An experienced lawyer can help you understand all the possible outcomes of your charge, decide on the best defense plan for your case, and help you minimize the negative impact of the arrest. Because of the far-reaching effects of being arrested, it’s important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible, the first time you have a run-in with law enforcement. Waiting until you have multiple convictions or arrests can make it even more difficult when it comes to your defense and your security application.
DUI Friendly Jobs
It’s normal for an individual to catastrophize after an arrest or conviction. But, don’t worry – there are plenty of DUI friendly jobs out there, and government or military employment may still be a possibility for you if that is your dream.
Here are some things to consider, along with everything you’ve learned about DUI and security clearances.
- In many states, companies do not look at arrest records when hiring; they look only at convictions. This means if you were not convicted of a DUI, your employer may not even learn about your arrest.
- The Fair Chance Business Pledge, which was signed by major corporations such as The Coca-Cola Company and American Airlines, aims to reduce barriers to employment for people with criminal records.
- If your DUI happened a long time ago, it is often easier for a prospective employer to accept since they can see that your recent record is clean.
- Many employers will accept an applicant with a DUI on their record, as long as the job does not involve driving.
If you are facing a DUI or other criminal charges and are worried about your clearance and employment, contact an attorney today. Christopher Mutimer and the Scrofano Law team can be reached by phone at 202-765-3175 or online here. Don’t hesitate to hire a lawyer – their experience and knowledge of the legal system can give you your best chance at a successful outcome.
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