Can a DUI Stop Me From Getting Security Clearance?

In order for someone to gain access to classified information, he or she must receive “security clearance.” However, security clearance is only granted to individuals who have passed a rigorous background investigation.

For an applicant to be approved, it must be found that his or her personal and professional history indicates strong moral character, honesty, reliability, sound judgement, and the utmost discretion. In light of that, a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) could sabotage an application for security clearance, especially if the DUI is recent.

After someone is given what’s called a “conditional offer of employment,” he or she must complete a Standard Form 86, Questionnaire for National Security Positions, as well as other forms as required. All applicants are expected to be thorough and honest when filling out the questionnaire and other required forms. Upon completion of the security questionnaire, Human Resources submits the security package to the Department of State’s Office of Personnel Security and Suitability.

Commencing the Background Investigation

Once the Office of Personnel Security and Suitability receives an applicant’s package, an agent will go through the application with a fine-tooth comb to ensure it was filled out correctly. From there, the applicant’s data will be entered into the case management system and a case manager will commence a detailed background investigation, which will look way back into the applicant’s history, but the case manager will also look at recent events in the applicant’s life, such as:

  • Arrests
  • Criminal convictions (including DUI)
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Sexual misconduct
  • Disciplinary actions at work
  • Financial problems
  • Mental health concerns

“DS investigators are located in the United States and overseas. These investigators verify the information an individual has supplied in his or her security package, such as where he or she has lived, gone to school, and worked,” according to state.gov. “Investigators talk to current and former neighbors, supervisors, co-workers, classmates, as well as references an individual provided. Investigators also contact law enforcement agencies in each of the places an individual has lived, worked, or attended school.”

After an investigator completes a report, the results are weighed against what are called the National Security Adjudicative Guidelines. The Adjudicative Guidelines include:

  • Allegiance to the United States
  • Foreign Influence
  • Foreign Preference
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Personal Conduct
  • Financial Considerations
  • Alcohol Consumption
  • Drug Involvement
  • Substance Misuse
  • Psychological Conditions
  • Criminal Conduct
  • Handling Protected Information
  • Outside Activities
  • Use of Information Technology

If you are convicted of DUI, a drug-related offense, assault, or if you’re convicted of another state or federal offense, it can definitely lead to the denial of security clearance. The good news is that if the DUI is old and it was an isolated incident, it may notlead to a security clearance denial. On the other hand, if your DUI is recent, or if you’ve had multiple DUI convictions in the past 10 years, it could indicate that you have a drinking problem, and in effect, your application can be denied.

If you already have security clearance and it is revoked because of a Florida DUI, or if your application for security clearance is denied because of a recent DUI, you will receive notice explaining the reasons for the denial or revocation and you’ll be notified about how to file an appeal, if you want to go that route. You will also be allowed to address the derogatory findings so you can clarify the information or possibly correct it.

Facing criminal charges in the Greater Tampa Area? The best way to protect you from a security clearance denial is to beat your criminal charges. To get started, we invite you to contact Thomas & Paulk, P.A. today.