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,…


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 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 isn't a good thing for one's clearance if it happens.


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.