You had one too many drinks at happy hour and made a bad choice – and now you have a DUI to show for it. What happens to your security clearance if you get a DUI? Or will you still be able to obtain one if you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence?

Fortunately, the ‘whole person’ concept applies to both obtaining an initial security clearance, and your behavior after. A one-time slip up will not affect your security clearance – even if you are arrested, plead guilty to a charge or spend a weekend in jail.


If you get a DUI, it’s important to follow any recommendations from your lawyer or requirements from the court – including alcohol counseling or safe driving classes. And report the incident to your security officer. A single DUI isn’t likely to cause any issues, or even cause an incident report to be issued on your security clearance.

A DUI is an issue when multiple citations have been received. In that case, the issue is less about the charges themselves and more related to a possible issue with alcohol. Alcohol consumption is a separate adjudicative criteria used in the security clearance process. The government will want to determine you don’t have an issue with alcohol abuse or addiction.

Like anything else, a single incident, including a DUI, is very unlikely to result in a clearance denial or revocation. But if one incident turns into many, it’s time to seek professional help to put your personal life and your career back on track.

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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer