Guide To DUI And Security Clearance

Last Modified: January 22, 2024

DUI charges affect your security clearance. We offer a risk free evaluation of your case and the affects on your clearance.

How a DUI Affects Security Clearance

A single DUI will not, by itself, cause the loss of your security clearance but it could bring into question your judgment and reliability, and if supported by other evidence of character issues, could threaten your right to obtain or renew any confidential, secret, or top-secret clearance.

A [first-time DUI arrest][1] or conviction is typically a misdemeanor and will not lead to automatic revoking of your clearance. If it remains an isolated event, you shouldn’t have to worry about it, even when your security comes up for renewal. But a [pattern of DUI arrests][1] could indicate a broader problem of alcohol or drug dependency that would lead security officials to investigate further before issuing any clearance.

What Is a Security Clearance?

A security clearance is a license to access confidential or sensitive information and is required by the U.S. Department of State for individuals who deal with federal agencies law enforcement, the intelligence community, or government contractors. A security clearance is necessary to ensure that people who have access to sensitive information relative to the safety of the country are of good moral character and that there are no civil or criminal issues in their background that could compromise their loyalty.

What are the levels of security clearance?

The Bureau of Human Resources determines the level of clearance be granted depending on the duties and responsibilities of the position. There are three levels of clearance: top secret, secret, and confidential. In addition, there are two other classifications that are not designated officially as security levels but are often used for the handling of public information: Controlled Unclassified and Public Trust.

Can You Maintain a Security Clearance With a DUI?

Anyone applying for a security clearance must go through a process involving thorough background checks. And those who already have a level of clearance must get their license renewed periodically, after another review. A confidential level is renewed every 15 years, a secret level every 10 years, and a top-secret level every 5 years. Any DUI occurring during these periods will be part of these reviews.

If you are concerned about a background check and how a DUI arrest might affect your security clearance at your next review, you should contact the offices of the Los Angeles Defense Attorneys who can help you obtain or retain your clearance.

Will a DUI ruin a background check?

This is where a Los Angles Criminal Defense Attorney can help. During a background check process, you are given the right to defend your position if necessary. The attorneys can point out several factors that can show, despite your DUI, that you are of good moral character and not a security risk.

They can show you are an honest, responsible person who made a mistake in judgment.

Even if the review process results in a denial of your security clearance, your attorneys can handle an appeal process. You should use all legal options to protect your security clearance. Your job may depend on it.

Will a Dismissed DUI Affect Your Security Clearance?

You may think that you’re in the clear if you can get the DUI charge dismissed. While there may be no immediate penalties, a DUI stays on your record even if the charges are dropped and is visible during a background check by potential employers, Law Enforcement officials, or security clearance investigators. This could lead to further evaluation of your history to determine how you have conducted yourself since the DUI.

Will an expunged DUI show up on your security clearance?

There is a way to get your record expunged, according to California Penal Code 1203.4. Expungement means you have the original verdict of guilty withdrawn and charges are dismissed. In this case, you may say “no” to the question of ever having been arrested. There are some exceptions that are listed in Penal Code 1203.4.

Also, if your record for a DUI was expunged but you committed a second DUI within a ten-year period of time, your expunged DUI will be brought back and you will now be charged for a second DUI. This could lead to disciplinary measures from security clearance officials.

Will a DUI Disqualify You from Security Clearance?

The guidelines for security clearance identify several instances or conditions that would disqualify applicants from receiving a security license. A DUI could be a factor in at least five of those conditions:

  • Personal conduct – This guideline refers to dishonesty, concealment of information, or falsifications. If you are in doubt about whether to report your DUI to your employer, you should consult with a Los Angeles Defense Attorney for advice.
  • Excessive Alcohol Consumption – DUI is a security concern according to federal guidelines for security clearance. But a Los Angeles Defense Attorney can help you present possible mitigating factors – like your DUI was a long time ago or that you have since attended alcohol rehabilitation.
  • Drug Involvement – Similar to alcohol consumption, drug involvement is a big security issue. Any dependency like this that can compromise rational thinking and personal integrity will raise a flag for security officials.
  • Mental, Emotional, or Personality Disorders – These character deficiencies can impact someone’s psychological functions and can impair judgment in professional or social situations. A DUI can lead to anxiety and depression and cause someone to turn to drugs or alcohol or make some other life change that would increase security risks.
  • Criminal conduct – A pattern of criminal behavior would no doubt block security approvals. But a single DUI, if an isolated event, should not be enough to deny security approval. Nor should there be a problem if the person charged with DUI was acquitted or can show rehabilitation since the incident.

How To Fight a DUI Charge

The time to contact us is right after you have been charged with DUI. We can help you fight the charges and keep the DUI off your record, so your security clearance is protected. Why invite questions during your next security review? Let us help keep your record clear.

There are many ways to challenge a DUI charge in California. The burden of proof is on the State to show a chain of events that add up to DUI. The State must prove:

  • You were actually driving
  • Your blood alcohol (BAC) was at least 0.08% or higher Peace officers use various methods to validate their assumption that you were drunk driving. The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys are experienced in challenging these methods:
  • The blood test could have laboratory errors or there could be contaminants in the blood.
  • Because it can take several hours for alcohol to be absorbed into the bloodstream, your level could have been legal at the time you were driving.
  • If you were driving erratically, there are other explanations for this besides DUI and a lawyer can challenge the peace officer’s interpretation.
  • Similarly, field sobriety tests can also be challenged. There are other explanations for your uneven performance including dizziness, nausea, wrong footwear, or natural clumsiness.

The best way to protect your security clearance from a DUI is to get the charges dropped. An experienced attorney knows how. If you have been arrested for DUI and have a security clearance, contact the Los Angeles Defense Attorneys for a free consultation

Protect your security clearance. Tell your story to our legal team and find out how they can represent you in legal proceedings to get your DUI charges dropped.

Contact Attorney Daniel Perlman or Matthew Cohen today at the office of Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys, (310) 557-1700.

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