Everyone makes a mistake now and then, but some are more serious than others. Among the latter is a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol.
A DUI mark on your record could have a devastating effect on your future if you need to maintain a security clearance for the kind of work you do.
A security clearance at risk
You may work for the federal government. Perhaps you are with the FBI, the IRS or the Department of Defense. You could also be a contractor working for the government. Jobs like these often require a security clearance, but what happens if law enforcement arrests you on suspicion of drunk driving and you are subsequently convicted of DUI? Will you lose your security clearance?
The whole-person approach
The good news is that the “whole person” idea comes into play when you apply for security clearance and carries through after you obtain your clearance. One drunk driving mistake will not cause you to lose clearance unless you receive multiple citations.
When it matters
If you have a second such violation, scrutiny over your behavior increases. If further DUI convictions occur, your security clearance will be in jeopardy because doubts will surface about your ability to keep classified information safe. Your judgment will also be an area of concern because of your decision to drive after having had too much to drink. If you are a repeat DUI offender, the issue will be less about the convictions and more about your possible alcohol addiction.
The penalties for drunk driving are harsh. They include heavy fines, possible jail time and driver's license suspension. If convicted of DUI, you must follow all court instructions and defense attorney recommendations. These may include participation in alcohol counseling or a safe driving program. You must also inform your supervisor of the incident. Remember that one mistake will probably not affect your security clearance, but if drinking-and-driving becomes a habit, it could derail your career and cause you to lose your clearance permanently.