Depending on where you work in Georgia, any position you hold -- from janitor to intelligence analyst -- can require a security clearance. The process can be painstakingly long to obtain clearance, so once it's been granted, you don't want to lose it. But that's what can happen to the best of us: you lose it. The cause may be something you initially would not have thought would do it: a DUI conviction. Driving under the influence of alcohol is a problem, but sometimes -- no matter who we are -- mistakes are made and we drive when we should not.
If you are charged with a DUI or other alcohol related driving offense, and either have or are seeking security clearance, you need to find an experienced attorney to help you with your legal matters. An experienced DUI lawyer will know the system and develop a legal strategy to either have your DUI charge dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge. If that happens, you may not necessarily have a problem on your hands with regard to security clearance. Your attorney should also be able to provide legal counsel to address security clearance questions you have while the attorney represents your DUI case. An experienced attorney, like Atlanta DUI Attorney Richard Lawson, knows what's at stake and will be there as your advocate to make sure you are able to keep or obtain your security clearance.
What Happens With Security Clearance if Convicted of DUI?
There is no short answer to this question. Security clearance will either be or not be affected. The determination is a result of the details of each unique situation. What you need to understand, however, is: a DUI conviction is a security concern or an indication that you may be a security concern, and this concern applies to each level of security clearance, regardless how low or high that security level is. An investigation will take place to determine if you are, indeed, a risk to security. Thus, fighting a DUI charge is imperative if you want to be granted or maintain your security clearance status.
DUI & the Adjudicative Guidelines For Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information
Security clearance is a privilege granted by the government. It gives you a certain level of eligibility to access or be around confidential information, though, in most positions, this information is never accessed or provided. The security clearance is the government's assurance that they do not pose a risk to confidential information that may come in and out of your place of employment. The Adjudicative Guidelines For Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information guides the process to determine if a person is or is not eligible for clearance. There are thirteen guidelines in total, and up to 5 of them are potentially relevant to DUI convictions either directly or indirectly.
- Guideline E - Personal Conduct. Personal conduct that could initiate a security concern is conduct that involves "questionable judgment, untrustworthiness, unreliability, lack of candor, dishonesty, or unwillingness to comply with rules and regulations." This personal conduct is a concern because it "could indicate that the person may not properly safeguard classified information." Driving under the influence of alcohol (or drugs) indicates you may lack the ability to judge certain circumstances adequately.
- Guidelines G - Alcohol Consumption. This guideline directly considers a candidate's alcohol consumption as a product of the candidate's "questionable judgment, unreliability, failure to control impulses." Alcohol consumption can be a concern because it can create situations that "increase the risk of unauthorized disclosure of classified information due to carelessness." DUI is specifically addressed in this guideline.
- Guideline H - Drug Involvement. This guideline refers to drugs and an "individual's willingness or ability to protect classified information." Like alcohol consumption, drug use is a concern because it can "impair social or occupational functioning, increasing the risk of an unauthorized disclosure of classified information," but it also raises questions about a person's ability or willingness to comply with laws, rules, and regulations. A DUI is applicable if you were driving under the influence of drugs -- regardless if illicit or prescribed.
- Guideline I - Emotional, Mental, and Personality Disorders. This guideline refers to "emotional, mental, and personality disorders [that] can cause a significant deficit in an individual's psychological, social and occupational functioning." The indication of a disorder is a security concern "because [it] may indicate a defect in judgment, reliability, or stability." A DUI could be interpreted as an indication of one of these disorders if accompanied by other relevant information.
- Guideline J - Criminal Conduct. Criminal conduct that shows a "history or pattern of criminal activity" is discussed in this guideline. Criminal conduct is a concern because it "creates doubt" with regard to a person's "judgment, reliability, and trustworthiness" and raises questions about a person's ability or willingness to comply with laws, rules, and regulations. A DUI creates a history of criminal activity if convicted and a permanent criminal record is established.
Overcoming a Security Concern Based on a DUI
There is hope to overcome a security concern that was initiated by your DUI. According to 32 E.C.F.R. § 147.2(d), the guidelines must take into account the "whole-person," which means a person will not be disqualified for security clearance unless the conduct "reflects a recurring pattern of questionable judgment, irresponsibility, or emotionally unstable behavior."
According to the Code, there are nine factors that must be considered together with any relevant disqualifying concern, like a DUI.
- Nature, extent, and seriousness of the conduct
- Circumstances surrounding the conduct, which includes knowledgeable participation
- Frequency and recency of the conduct
- Individual's age and maturity at the time of the conduct
- Extent to which participation is voluntary
- Presence or absence of rehabilitation and other permanent behavioral changes
- Motivation for the conduct
- Potential for pressure, coercion, exploitation, or duress
- Likelihood of continuation or recurrence.
In other words, the whole-person approach considers a person's overall behavior more so than the one-time incident -- though that one-time incident does matter, especially if anyone was harmed. Examples of the most significant threats to your security clearance include:
- Past DUI conviction.
- Any evidence that alcohol consumption negatively impacts your work/school performance, finances, personal or professional relationships.
- Failure to complete court-ordered alcohol education or treatment program.
- Relapse after completion of an alcohol-related treatment program.
- Professional diagnosis of chemical substance abuse or dependency.
In addition to your current DUI charge, the above examples will detrimentally impact the decision to grant or continue our security clearance.
Contact a DUI Attorney Immediately to Prevent Losing Your Security Clearance
If you already possess or are applying for security clearance and are arrested for a DUI anywhere in Georgia, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced DUI attorney who has specific experience on this subject.
Reputable, award-winning Atlanta DUI lawyer Richard Lawson has the experience, the knowledge, and the resources to address your DUI charge and to prevent it from negatively impacting your current or pending security clearance. Don't let a DUI jeopardize your livelihood. Contact us online or by phone at 404-816-4440.