Will I Lose My Security Clearance if I’m Convicted of DUI?In some situations, you could lose your security clearance if you are convicted of driving under the influence (DUI). If you do not lose your clearance outright, you may find it pretty difficult to renew it later.

The truth is, good people sometimes do dopey things, and everyone – even folks with security clearances – can suffer from a lapse in judgment. At Drew Cochran, attorney at law, we don’t think you should lose everything because of a mistake.

Why would a DUI conviction affect my security clearance?

A security clearance provides you access to highly sensitive information. People with criminal records typically aren’t considered trustworthy. Furthermore, a DUI charge (let alone a conviction) can be an indication that you make poor decisions, or that you have a “problem.” Some employers even consider it a moral issue.

Here’s what the feds have to say about “United States Government civilian and military personnel, consultants, contractors, employees of contractors, licensees, certificate holders or grantees and their employees and other individuals who require access to classified information.”

The ultimate determination of whether the granting or continuing of eligibility for a security clearance is clearly consistent with the interests of national security must be an overall common sense determination based upon careful consideration of the following, each of which is to be evaluated in the context of the whole person, as explained further below [in subsections] Guideline G: Alcohol consumption [and] Guidelines J: Criminal conduct.


Guideline G: Alcohol consumption.

    1. The concern. Excessive alcohol consumption often leads to the exercise of questionable judgment, unreliability, failure to control impulses, and increases the risk of unauthorized disclosure of classified information due to carelessness.
    2. Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:
      1. Alcohol-related incidents away from work, such as driving while under the influence, fighting, child or spouse abuse, or other criminal incidents related to alcohol use….

Guideline J: Criminal Conduct.

    1. The concern. A history or pattern of criminal activity creates doubt about a person’s judgment, reliability and trustworthiness.
    2. Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:
      1. Allegations or admissions of criminal conduct, regardless of whether the person was formally charged;
      2. A single serious crime or multiple lesser offenses.

Can a DUI cost me my job?

It can if your work requires a security clearance. Losing your security clearance can lead to losing your job. Another way to look at this is thinking what it means to lose your security clearance. If you do, you cannot do the work you are doing now. That means you lose your job, cannot find another job with the same requirements, and your career is now over. There is no way to sugarcoat what comes next – yes, you could face jail time, but you could also no longer have a way to pay your bills, and that could mean you cannot maintain your home and car, either.

Now, think about this worrisome fact. If you are convicted, that conviction goes on your permanent criminal record. Even if you try to get another job outside of your industry, you are still likely to face difficulty getting a job due to background checks. You suffer a loss of reputation in this case.

What types of security jobs could be at risk?

If you are in any of the following fields, you typically need to have clearance to maintain your position:

  • Weapons jobs – such as working in a manufacturing plant or distribution center
  • Intelligence analysts
  • Aerospace engineers
  • Any federal or state contractor job, including in any department within these companies
  • Consultants for federal or state contractors
  • Government building custodial or administration staff

Any type of work within a government organization is likely no longer accessible to you.

Could you get your job with a security clearance back?

You may be able to obtain a security clearance at some point in the future, depending on the type of work and the organization’s rules. However, keep in mind that this is a permanent mark on your record. You cannot simply get rid of it.

There may be ways to reduce this risk, such as being acquitted or showing clear evidence that you completed rehabilitation.

What should you do if you are facing a DUI to protect your job?

There are numerous factors to consider when being charged with or convicted of a DUI. Because of the significant risk, it is always best to have a conversation with a criminal defense attorney like me to talk about your options. There are many cases where you can defend against a DUI, and that could protect your career path.

You do not want to face this type of criminal charge on your own when so many factors are at stake. The complications and risks are high in this area of the law. Having legal support is critical to protecting your rights.

We highly recommend contacting DUI attorney, Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, in Maryland for immediate assistance. With offices in Annapolis and Ellicott City, I can better serve you. I make it easy to understand the charges levied against you and the decisions you should make to protect your rights. Call my office or submit my contact form to schedule an appointment today.

And remember – Keep Calm, and Call Drew.