Looking for a fresh start following a criminal charge? Specifically, how long does an applicant need to wait before they can apply for a security clearance required position?

One subscriber to the ClearanceJobsBlog was interested in turning a new leaf:

I recently completed all court requirements for a DUI conviction (last year), and I am considering US government positions that require either Secret or Top Secret clearances. With no other blemishes (criminal, financial, behavior, etc) how long after completing court DUI requirements do I need to wait before I can obtain a Secret Clearance? 5years? 7years? And for a TS clearance, is it 10 years?

There isn’t any specific timeline to wait, and it’s important to note the government considers patterns of behavior versus single incidents. A single DUI is not a security clearance concern, typically. Even current clearance holders to get a DUI aren’t guaranteed to lose their clearance – they’re more likely than not able to keep it. The DUI itself isn’t the issue, but what it may signify about your alcohol habits or overall dependability and judgment.

Marko Hakamma, blog moderator says, “If all you have is one DUI then it will not prevent you from being granted a clearance.” Having a DUI on your record doesn’t mean you will be denied a clearance. It just depends on the specific circumstances of the case, the pattern of alcohol related charges on your record, and of course, time.

As long as you report the DUI on your SF-86 and met the requirements of the DUI charge, there should be minimal issues moving forward.

If you are a current clearance holder and are charged with a DUI, don’t wait for a conviction before telling your Facility Security Officer (FSO) about your arrest. Self-reporting is taken very seriously, especially in the time of Continuous Vetting (CV). View those requirements here. 

If this is your first DUI, or if your consumption is moderate or here and there, it’s unlikely that you will have an issue obtaining security clearance or a career in national security.


Much about the clearance process resembles the Pirate’s Code: “more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules.” For this reason, we maintain ClearanceJobsBlog.com – a forum where clearance seekers can ask the cleared community for advice on their specific security concerns. Ask CJ explores questions posed on the ClearanceJobs Blog forum, emails received, and comments from this site. This article is intended as general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. Consult an attorney regarding your specific situation. 


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Katie Helbling is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 10+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸