Hall County, Georgia, is home to a number of rewarding security clearance jobs. Security clearance jobs are generally great for mission-driven professionals and often provide better benefits than the competition. If you already have security clearance and are seeking a new position, then your security clearance can also give you an advantage over your colleagues. These jobs are coveted and once you get one, you don't want to give it up, at least not the clearance. Therein also lies the one major drawback of security clearances, which basically refers to what you must do to obtain or maintain it: be and remain squeaky clean.
But people are people, and they make mistakes, like drinking a little too much and then driving when you probably shouldn't. Getting cited for driving under the influence (DUI) just once can be problematic for security clearance holders or seekers. And if you are in this position, or have been, then you probably already know it. It's not necessarily the DUI that is problematic, but the potential it indicates another problem. You should seek legal counsel to ensure your DUI charge doesn't become a problem for your security clearance. Contact your Hall County DUI Lawyer today.
A DUI and Ineligibility for Security Clearance
Security clearance is government authorization that a person can access confidential information. To obtain it, background checks and other qualifying processes are conducted, which makes it a lengthy and costly procedure. Adjudicative Guidelines For Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information guides the adjudicator to the determination if a person qualifies or not to receive or maintain a security clearance. There are thirteen guidelines, five of which are potentially relevant to DUI.
Guidelines Relevant to DUI Charge and Subsequent Conviction
A DUI is often a one-time thing: you were out celebrating and when the night's event was over, you thought you were functioning fine and, thus, not over the legal limit to drive, but it turned out you were over the legal limit and it was not safe for you to drive. Generally, if this one-time thing was all there was to report and no one was hurt, then you can sigh some relief: you will likely be able to continue to maintain or obtain a security clearance if the right steps are taken directly after the DUI charge.
On the other hand, regardless of guilt or mitigation of the same, there are times when a DUI can indicate that another problem exists, and it is the latter that causes concern for security clearance purposes. As above-mentioned, there are five guidelines of particular interest to a DUI.
- Guideline E - Personal Conduct. Conduct that involves "questionable judgment, untrustworthiness, unreliability, lack of candor, dishonesty, or unwillingness to comply with rules and regulations" is a concern because such conduct "could indicate that the person may not properly safeguard classified information." In short, this guideline is about a person concealing or falsifying information. A DUI is all about personal conduct, and so if you are charged with a DUI, your actions to either conceal or reveal the fact to your employer can say a lot. For instance, if you chose to conceal it, then if found out, it could raise a security concern.
- Guidelines G - Alcohol Consumption. Alcohol consumption, if it is or becomes excessive, has the potential to transpire into "questionable judgment, unreliability, failure to control impulses, and increases the risk of unauthorized disclosure of classified information due to carelessness." This guideline specifically mentions driving under the influence of alcohol as an act that raises a security concern.
- Guideline H - Drug Involvement. The concern under this guideline is generally the same as in Guideline G, except it involves drugs. Drug involvement can impact an "individual's willingness or ability to protect classified information," and can "impair social or occupational functioning, increasing the risk of an unauthorized disclosure of classified information." A DUI could also be a drug-related offense, therefore, if charged with a DUI, the question is if was a DUI-drug offense.
- Guideline I - Emotional, Mental, and Personality Disorders. Such "disorders can cause a significant deficit in an individual's psychological, social and occupational functioning," and as such, a security concern can be raised "because they may indicate a defect in judgment, reliability, or stability." You may not be diagnosed with one of these disorders, but a DUI, the quantity and circumstances surrounding the DUI offense(s), can be indicative that maybe such a disorder exists. In this way, a DUI can be a red flag to other security concerns.
- Guideline J - Criminal Conduct. Criminal conduct is similar to personal conduct, such that either form of conduct can call into question a person's "judgement, reliability and trustworthiness," and in this case, a "history or pattern of criminal activity creates doubt" about those three qualities. If you have had more than one DUI charge and/or conviction, then it really does become an issue of poor judgement and evidence that the employer may not be able to trust you.
Fortunately, eligibility for security clearance status is not subject to one particular instance. Eligibility qualifying factors take into consideration the whole person, not just one act or conduct.
Overcoming a DUI Security Concern: the Whole-Person Concept
According to 32 E.C.F.R. § 147.2(d), the guidelines must take into account the "whole-person." The "whole-person" approach basically means that a person will not be disqualified for security clearance unless the conduct "reflects a recurring pattern of questionable judgement, irresponsibility, or emotionally unstable behavior." The Code outlines 9 factors that must be considered together with any relevant disqualifying issue, such as 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; and
- Likelihood of continuation or recurrence.
A qualified DUI attorney should counsel you on what your best options are and how to protect your security clearance. Time is of the essence, therefore, if you have security clearance and were charged with a DUI in Hall County, Georgia, you need to contact an attorney today. Security clearance adjudicators won't wait for your DUI charge to be dismissed by the court or explained by you, so you shouldn't wait either.
Contact a DUI Attorney Today if Your Security Clearance is in Jeopardy
If you have security clearance and get arrested for a DUI in Hall County, Georgia, it is in your best interest to contact a DUI lawyer who has specific experience on this subject. Reputable, award-winning Hall County DUI attorney 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.