Can a DUI Stop Me from Getting Security Clearance?

DUI and security clearance are related. If you have a drunk driving conviction on your record, you may find that it negatively influences your ability to get security clearance. However, this is often something that is addressed on a case by case basis, so it is important to learn more about how it may affect you.

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 judgment, 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. This is one of the first places where DUI and security clearance will impact one another.

The recent events considered by a case manager may include:

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

DS Investigators

According to, “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. 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

Several of the above categories are related to DUI. This includes alcohol consumption and criminal conduct, not to mention personal conduct, drug involvement, and substance misuse. Remember, you can be arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, even prescription drugs—if they affect your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. DUI and security clearance will interact here, in the review of the results of an investigation against Security Adjudicative Guidelines.

DUI & Security Clearance Applications

If you are convicted of DUI, a drug-related offense, assault, or another state or federal offense, it can lead to the denial of a security clearance application. The good news is that if the DUI is old and it was an isolated incident, it may not lead 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 lead an investigator to believe that you have a drinking problem, and in effect, your application can be denied.

This is just one of many reasons it is crucial to avoid a DUI conviction. If you’ve been arrested for DUI or any crime, and you want to work in a field where you require security clearance, you need to consider the lasting implications that a conviction could have on a DS investigator’s review of your application. Exercise your right to an attorney and seek legal counsel immediately if you are arrested for DUI or accused of any criminal offense.

DUI & Security Clearance Denials

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.

If you need help because your security clearance was revoked or your application was denied as a result of a DUI conviction, Thomas & Paulk is here to help. Our attorneys are former prosecutors who have handled thousands of criminal cases. We know how to effectively challenge DUI charges in Florida and recognize the serious, negative impact of DUI and security clearance denials.

Looking for experienced help related to DUI and security clearance? To get started, we invite you to contact Thomas & Paulk, P.A. Your consultation is free and confidential.

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