Getting a DUI is a fairly big deal for most people, but that doesn’t mean that it will automatically impact every aspect of your life. If you currently hold security clearance, driving under the influence could threaten it, but it won’t always. If you don’t yet hold it, you could miss out on the opportunity to get it.
There are two main misunderstandings that people have about security clearances and DUI arrests. The first is that they need to accurately report the nature of the offense for which they were arrested. The second is that they don’t know the nature of mandated DUI classes and how they apply to the SF-86.
SF-86 and reporting an arrest or conviction
The SF-86, or Standard Form 86, may be requested from you if you’re applying for clearance as a military contractor, government employee or military member, for example.
If you have to report an arrest or conviction on this form, it must be accurate. If you were arrested for a DUI but later pleaded down, you may still need to indicate that the arrest was for a DUI even if you didn’t get convicted of it. Failing to do this could lead to problems with your security clearance, which could take a significant amount of time to resolve.
DUI classes and the SF-86
You don’t want to indicate that you’ve been through treatment, for example, when the reality is that you were just involved in a classroom-style session that went over the dangers of drunk driving.
Think about it this way. Most states require classroom-style DUI courses after a first-offense DUI. This is not the same as substance abuse treatment. If you indicate that you had treatment on the form when you really had a class, then the clearance could be denied.
Accuracy matters for your security clearance
Looking at both of these issues, the main concern is accuracy. If you’re seeking security clearance, the person granting it is going to want to see that you have integrity and that you’re honest. You may have to disclose arrests or convictions, classes and substance abuse treatment. Failing to do so accurately could hurt your chances of getting the security clearance you need.