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Can a DUI Affect Security Clearance Applications?

According to the U.S. Department of State, security clearances are only granted to those who have passed a background investigation. The background check must determine that the individual’s personal and professional history demonstrates loyalty to the U.S., honesty, character, discretion and sound judgment.

If you are applying for security clearance and you were recently arrested for DUI, you’re probably wondering if you’re jeopardizing your career, particularly if a conviction is imminent. For obvious reasons, you need to find out if a DUI arrest or conviction will affect your ability to pass the background investigation.

While you’re going through the background investigation, your criminal history will be carefully reviewed. While an old DUI may not be a deal breaker, especially if it was years ago and never recurred, a recent DUI is another story. Can you fail a background investigation due to a recent DUI conviction? In a word – yes.

What if you already have security clearance, would a DUI cause you to lose it automatically?

A misdemeanor DUI arrest should not result in an automatic revocation of your security clearance. You may not have to address the DUI until your clearance comes up for review. That said, it’s important that you understand what impact a DUI can have.

About Periodic Reinvestigations

Generally, security clearances are subject to reinvestigations every 5 years. If you are notified by the Office of Personnel Security and Suitability that another background investigation will be conducted, the new investigation will start from where your previous background investigation left off. You’ll have to go through the adjudicative process, which refers to an examination of your life to make an affirmative determination if you are an acceptable security risk.

When evaluating your conduct, the adjudicator will consider:

  • Your motivation
  • The seriousness of your conduct
  • The circumstances of the conduct
  • The frequency of the conduct
  • When the conduct occurred
  • The likelihood it will recur

Ultimately, the decision to grant continued security clearance comes down to common sense and what’s in the interests of national security. The decision is based on 13 guidelines, but the following apply to a DUI:

  • Personal Conduct
  • Alcohol Consumption
  • Drug Involvement
  • Psychological Conditions
  • Criminal Conduct

If you have security clearance and you’re facing DUI charges, or if you’re applying for security clearance and you were recently arrested for DUI, contact our office to speak with an Orange County DUI attorney. We can answer all of your questions and instruct you on how to properly deal with this situation.