A DUI conviction can be life-changing. You could lose your driver's license, be forced to pay heavy fines and even spend time in jail. But for government employees who need security clearance to do their jobs, the consequences may be even more severe.
If you are convicted of a DUI you are at risk of losing your security clearance. No security clearance, no job.
Government Clearance And Drunk Driving Charges
When clients come to our office their main concern is often the impact a DUI charge will have on their job.
Should I report my DUI arrest to my manager? What if I wasn't convicted? What are some mitigating factors that will help me keep my clearance?
Whether a DUI charge results in loss of security clearance depends on your situation and the internal policies of the federal agency at which you work. However, there are some general guidelines most federal agencies follow.
The Code of Federal Regulations contains guidelines federal agencies follow when determining whether an employee should be granted, or retain, his or her security clearance. The guidelines specifically call out alcohol consumption and list drunk driving charges as items that raise security concerns and can result in disqualification.
The guidelines also include a section on general criminal conduct. This section states that an employee may not be eligible for security clearance if he or she has been arrested, whether or not formal criminal charges result.
The good news is that the guidelines also include mitigating factors. If this was an isolated incident, if this is your first DUI, if you have no pattern of drunkenness and have never shown up to work intoxicated, or have taken steps to rehabilitate yourself - such as attending an in-patient or out-patient rehabilitation center, or Alcoholic Anonymous meetings - you may still retain your security clearance.
Self-Reporting Your DUI Arrest
Most federal agencies require any employee with a security clearance to self-report any issues to their manager or security officer. Again, each agency has its own guidelines, but you will generally be required to report a DUI arrest - even if drunk driving charges were not filed.
The most important thing you can do after a DUI arrest is to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney - someone who can mitigate the criminal consequences and advise you on security clearance issues.