When it comes to approval for a security clearance, the government takes the “whole person” approach. This applies to your initial application and to your behavior after receiving clearance.
A DUI conviction would become part of your record. Will that conviction put your security clearance in jeopardy?
About the “whole person”
The government does not focus on one aspect of your background such as education, personality or physical makeup but applies the whole person concept when approving you for a security clearance. As a first-time DUI offender, your conviction would likely not affect your clearance, even if you should spend the night in jail. However, since the conviction goes on your record it automatically becomes part of the whole person structure. Subsequent convictions along the same lines would raise serious questions about your dependence on alcohol.
Military versus civilian penalties
The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) governs your actions on base as a member of the military. However, if you are off base when law enforcement stops you on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, you will more than likely face state charges along with a possible military court hearing. For example, if you are an officer, a board of inquiry may be convened to investigate your DUI issue and determine the impact, if any, on your military career and, as a consequence, your security clearance.
A look ahead
While a single DUI conviction may not put your security clearance in jeopardy, it is also imperative that your overall criminal record be able to pass government scrutiny. For this reason, you should consider fighting the charge in an effort to keep your record clean.