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How can a DUI affect my security clearance?

Whether you are a state employee or you work for a company that contracts with the federal government, you may require security clearance to do your job. A review of your professional and educational history, as well as any criminal activity, will determine if you qualify for the necessary security clearance.

Undergoing a federal background check and knowing that the results will determine whether or not you get a job or a project can be a very stressful experience. Thankfully, most people are well aware of any criminal records that they have. You may have avoided any kind of violent criminal infraction but could still run afoul of the law if you frequently consume alcohol.

If you get arrested for a driving under the influence (DUI) offense, will you have to worry about losing your security clearance over a conviction?

A single DUI likely won’t cost you your clearance

The good news for those facing a DUI charge and working in a government job or a government-adjacent profession is that a single DUI offense that involves poor driving or a technical infraction based on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) won’t automatically cost you your security clearance.

However, when someone has multiple criminal infractions in a short amount of time, especially when they relate to substance abuse, there may the concerns about their future eligibility for security clearance. Additionally, a criminal conviction could affect your eligibility for licensing, both to drive in general and as a professional.

An impaired driving conviction on your record could also increase the cost to ensure you as an employee if your job ever involves driving. There are numerous reasons why someone with a career that requires security clearance will want to defend themselves against a DUI charge even if a guilty plea won’t automatically cost them their clearance.

There are many potential defenses

People successfully fight back against accusations of impaired driving all the time. Some people prove that a police officer violated their rights by conducting an illegal traffic stop, while others might challenge the accuracy of the tests administered during the traffic stop.

Talking about the circumstances of your arrest and your profession with a criminal defense attorney can help you choose the best defense strategy for your unique circumstances. Fighting back against DUI charges will almost always be a better option than pleading guilty for those who worry about their careers.

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