Alcohol Consumption and Security Clearances

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Alcohol consumption is legal (if you are of age) and it is perfectly acceptable and normal in most social settings, right? So why is it a potential issue for those who want or already have a security clearance? Alcohol affects each individual a bit differently, but when someone drinks excessively the potential for impaired judgment,…

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Good input. When you have a cleared employee placed into ASAP, or behavioral education classes make it clear they must successfully complete the program or their clearance is at high risk. I am often asked if a DUI will cause revocation. I tell them it “can, based on severity, aggravating circumstances, repeat behavior, etc.” Normally my client allows the court and treatment programs to work through to their conclusion. Getting kicked out of an ASAP class or counseling program, or having bad reports from the car machine…is prima facia evidence against you and indicates no positive progress. If they sign an agreement to remain 100% alcohol free then that is exactly what they must do. Some machines test for metabolites of alcohol being broken down and not just blood alcohol levels as one employee found out the hard way. Successful completion of a treatment program is required to mitigate a medical determination of alcoholism. Even though falling off the wagon is expected for many struggling…it isn’t a good thing for one’s clearance if it happens.

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That is a great statement to make to employees who have alcohol (or any) issues. As my old friend, Perry Russell-Hunter, Chief of DOHA, says when he is asked whether an incident will affect someone’s eligibility, he responds with “It depends”. The behavior is an issue and “it depends” on how the individual mitigates the problem NOT complying with court-ordered rehabilitation or physician’s recommendations will, in all probability, result in a clearance denial/revocation. Its a character issue - its not always WHAT you do, but HOW you recover or fix from what you have done. Too many Security Managers/FSOs do not understand the adjudicative guidelines or how to shepherd their employees towards a favorable outcome of bad behavior.


Good afternoon,

This is a very informative and intellgient post. And this makes sense why one might be concerned about a DUI or repeat DUIs…however; 9 times out of 10…this logic is absurd.

For example; I had a friend who worked off site for his contractor company but managed several federal contracts. This required him to have access to said database to upload pdfs etc.

I want to be very specfic…Access to said database means to simply read the task order scope of work that the government client wants done. This was a janitorial contract. This means that the “sensitive and secret” information to be read was clean the kitchen, empty the trash, etc.

My friend would then upload his company’s price proposal in response to said task order. The governent would approve it and the work would commence. There is/was nothing secret or public or in any way senstiive at all about this position and the information being read.

And yet…he was deemed a “unacceptable security risk” because he had multiple dui(s) and his badge was revoked, he subsequently lost his job, and now works as a Chipotle Cashier.

How…was this not overkill on the part of the security office?

Ouch. The only reason I can think of why this happened is because dui’s can fall under the 13 adjudicative guidelines and suitability criteria. The latter are used for public trust positions. It does happen but is not common (I think) for SO’s to tack on adj. guidelines not also covered by suitability, onto public trust suitability determinations.

DUIs are no joke, regardless of security risk of position, especially considering the fatal risk to other innocents on the road. Sorry, but I’d terminate anyone with this in a heartbeat.

So what do you all recommend my friend do?

And I won’t go off on a tanget because I do not want to have the topic locked down…I apologize to the moderator who has been most respectful and professional.

What productive steps can my friend do to show that there will never be a fourth dui. He is currently in an alochol program and has the interlock device in his vehicle. All results are positive.

He has that he has decided to voluntarily upon completion of said interlock device program; leave the device in his car permanently because the temptation to drive home is too great and he never wants to be on the wrong side of the law again.

Time as well would imagine would help? It has already been a year and a half.

Thank you for your input

I can personally attest as someone who has a felony in his past. Mistakes happen. I’ll be the first to admit that. That was my case but I’ve also seen Stresses in life can make us make bad decisions as well.

He might need to wrap his head around what’s causing his desire to drive drunk “to be too great”. There is a level of self control that is imperative to life, not just work.

I think the level of consumption does play a factor. Dwis and duis are different in my opinion.

I have been on the wrong side of judgmental people as well.

A few months ago I was working overnight shifts stocking shelves for 10 bucks an hour.

If he continues to do the right thing I’m sure doors will open up.

I’m almost 35 . have a masters, speak 3 languages, and have tons of experience.

Life happens and showing humbleness is important.

I believe he’s might have learned his lesson over the last year. Just needs to show some persistence and patience.

Good luck to him.

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I agree there is serious concern here. I think it would be more beneficial to examine why the person is faulting than just throwing them out.

This isn’t the land of second chances I’ve seen since dealing with my own issue. I’ve always given people the benefit of the doubt, when something has popped up. Unless they show me different.

If we keep throwing people away when things happen. Regardless of if we would expect it to happen to us, the question is should that be the initial response just because it’s the easiest?

Time is a mitigator, so the more time the better… How are the DUIs spread out? We’re they close together or long spans? In reviewing cases it seems like if the DUIs happen as an example in 2012/2016/2017 then the courts would want a track record of 4+ years of sobriety since individual went 4 yrs between DUIs. Alcohol assessment helps, and completing the recommended treatment.

In california there is no such thing as a DWI. That is state specific. As an umbrella statement we follow federal not state laws. I hope we are evaluated as such and I believe that to be the case.

Each person is a unique case. One DUI is bad. We make mistakes. Multiple is even worse. Your friend is tipping the scale against his favor but I suggest he change his lifestyle and be truthful. In the event he does not he should maintain a positive lifestyle, then in couple years he can reapply with greater success than the first time around.

Also, I dont think him having the interlock device permanently would fix anything other than suggest he has greater issues than seen from the surface.

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That’s interesting. You would think the legal limit would dictate the charge.

Everybody handles their alcohol differently but impairment goes up with a higher bac

Good to know though about California.

Yes . . . DUI and DWI are the same thing. Each state has their own law, there is no federal law and each state calls it what they want. You can have three DUI’s and two DWI’s if you live near a state border . . .


Well actually dui (driving under the influence) is a charge you can receive if you’ve been driving while on drugs, it could also mean alcohol but dwi always means alcohol

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@ForeverCoding I responding to your statement…but anyone on here can respond.

I value all resposnes and thank you for your time.

So you are saying that when my friend explains his dui(s) his plan to never get another one again is to simply leave the device in the car.

Isn’t that a solid plan? It is impossible to get a dui if you have that device in your car.

HR and security folk wouldnt agree

Lol its bad ok. Dui 2 and 3 were a week apart.

Not a good look.

How honest should be be lol. He didn’t think the 2nd dui was fair or legit so he mentally ignored it completely and that is why the 3rd one happened right after the 2nd one. He made no behavioral changes at all. In his defense, the 1st one was in 2012 so for 5 years he was doing smthn rite.

I dont he think shouldnt be able to work…but I acknowledge (even if he his my friend) how bad two dui(s) a week apart looks.

So he will have the device in his car to prevent him from drinking and driving ever again. Fair enough. But that doesnt solve his drinking issue. Whats there to say he doesnt come to work drunk? Whats there to say he doesn’t do anything questionable at the bar? Even worse, he may even spill classified information and not recall it at all.

Do you see my drift? The issue isnt the DUI. The DUI is one component of the whole mess hes portrayed himself to be. So have the device in his car all he wants it wont help his case by a landslide. We’re also talking about multiple DUIs not one or two…

If there are recent patterns of misconduct/unwillingness to follow rules, regulations, laws, etc., then security personnel have every right to question his judgment and his future behavior. Willful engagement in risky and illegal behavior is something you don’t want to take a chance on in the eyes of adjudicators. They don’t want someone who is a potential risk to be in an environment where he potentially can access sensitive or classified information. Whether or not the person doing the work requires a clearance in the first place is a whole other argument.

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If he wants any chance I think he would need an alcohol assessment, likely some type of inpatient/outpaitent alcohol treatment and a track record of counseling/AA attendence and some time to mitigate the concern.