The federal government employs many people who live in Virginia. As a result, many jobs in Fairfax County and the greater Washington D.C. area require security clearance. A drunk driving or DUI conviction can affect your ability to obtain or renew a security clearance, and if your security clearance is denied, your employment could be in jeopardy.
Can You Lose Your Job Because of a DUI?
It depends. You may or may not need to disclose DUI charges to your employer in Virginia. However, a DUI conviction will appear on your criminal record.
The government will conduct a background check when you apply to obtain or renew a security clearance.
Your first DUI conviction may not disqualify you from receiving security clearance. Typically, a first offense is classified as a misdemeanor. A second conviction may also be a misdemeanor. While a DUI conviction does not automatically mean someone will be denied a security clearance, it is included as part of the review process and could impact security clearance in some cases.Subsequent drunk driving offenses may be felonies. A first and second offense that results in injury or death may also be a felony. If you become a convicted felon based on DUI charges, you may not be eligible for security clearance and may lose your job. A jail or prison sentence of over a year may also disqualify you from receiving security clearance.
Examples of Jobs With Security Clearance
Security clearance is necessary for many government jobs that need access to classified information.Many jobs in Virginia, from Chesapeake to Norfolk, require security clearance. Examples of government agencies and careers affected include:
- Department of Defense
- Department of Homeland Security
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Department of Veterans Affairs
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
- Military personnel
- Defense contractors
Three Levels of Security Clearance
There are three levels of security clearance. As access to confidential information increases, so does the level of scrutiny.
Confidential Security Clearance
This is the lowest level of federal security clearance. It allows access to material that may cause measurable damage to national security. An applicant undergoes a thorough background check to obtain a confidential security clearance. The government may look into your criminal, education, and employment history. A confidential security clearance is renewed every 15 years.
Secret Security Clearance
This is the middle level. It allows access to information that may cause grave damage to national security. A secret security clearance requires a similar background check as a confidential security clearance, and it needs to be renewed every 10 years.
Top Secret Security Clearance
This is the highest security clearance level. People with top-secret security clearance have access to materials that may cause disastrous damage to national security. A top-secret security clearance requires a similar background check as the other two levels. It also involves a field check and Single Scope Background Investigation. In some cases, applicants may undergo a polygraph test. A top-secret security clearance is renewed every five years.
How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
You likely have many questions about what happens after a DUI arrest. While you may be presumed innocent until proven guilty, a DUI arrest still impacts your security clearance and may put your job and livelihood at risk.
Every security clearance review is different and needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, consulting with a skilled DUI defense attorney as soon as possible is essential. James Short has experience spanning hundreds of Virginia DUI cases and is ready to help you.