You have worked diligently your whole life and undergone highly scrutinized background checks. Maybe you provided years of loyal service in a state or federal position, but one mistake has put your career and professional reputation in jeopardy. This is the strict reality that a DWI charge can have if you hold a government position that requires security clearances.
If you’re found guilty of DWI in Texas, it’s because you were operating a vehicle in a public place while your blood alcohol concentration was .08% or higher, or your faculties were impaired by drugs or alcohol. However, a DWI conviction can result in the loss of your clearance and, in turn, your job, as well as other collateral consequences. It is important for anyone in this position to have a skilled DWI defense lawyer who can help you understand the state’s stringent DWI laws and how they apply to your case.
What are government security clearances?
Obtaining security clearance is necessary for various government positions, including intelligence analysis, law enforcement, and air traffic control, among other federal and state positions. They entail a comprehensive background check that scrutinizes all criminal convictions, including misdemeanors or felonies.
What happens to my security clearance if convicted of DWI?
The impact of a DWI conviction on your security clearance is unique to each case. Depending on the specific job and requirements, a DWI conviction can disqualify you from obtaining a security clearance or be cause for termination from your current position where you hold a security clearance.
For some folks, losing a security clearance means more than losing a job. It could mean a loss of educational opportunities, housing, and future employment opportunities. You may even be responsible for packing back loans that you obtained because of your job. It can also land you in jail, which can then cost you certain Constitutional rights.
So as you can see, losing a security clearance because of a DWI is likely to have a lot of ripple effects.
Why is a DWI so detrimental to my security clearance?
For government agencies, context is everything when it comes to their employees’ trustworthiness. There are two specific federal guidelines to know:
- Guideline G – Alcohol Consumption: When it comes to security clearance, alcohol consumption is considered under this guideline, as it can suggest questionable judgment, unreliability, or an inability to control impulses. Consuming alcohol is generally not an issue unless it leads to carelessness that could increase the risk of disclosing classified information. With that, the impact of a DWI on your clearance depends on the circumstances surrounding the incident and the totality of your alcohol consumption.
- Guideline H – Drug Involvement: This guideline addresses the potential security concerns associated with drug use, whether prescription, legal or illegal. If a DWI is related to drug use, it can raise doubts about your ability to safeguard classified information and your social or occupational functioning. Illegal drug use, in particular, can also cast doubt on your willingness to comply with laws, rules and regulations.
A DWI conviction in Killeen is a form of criminal conduct that can have serious long-term consequences, as it remains on your record permanently and cannot be expunged. One mistake could lead to significant collateral damage to your future if not dealt with properly. By analyzing the totality of your alcohol consumption or evaluating the drug use involved in your DWI, your attorney can determine the best defense strategy to mitigate the impact on your clearance.
How can an experienced Killeen criminal defense lawyer help with a DWI charge?
If you are under scrutiny from your government employer, as a security concern due to a DWI conviction or charge, don’t lose hope. Security clearance guidelines take into account the “whole-person,” meaning that a one-time incident should not disqualify you unless it reflects a pattern of questionable judgment, irresponsibility, or emotionally unstable behavior. (Or unless it involves a far more serious charge, such as intoxication manslaughter.) For this reason the skilled and experienced Killeen attorneys at Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm can build a strong case that can keep you in your ever-growing career in state or federal government.
According the National Security Adjudicative Guidelines, nine factors are considered in combination with any disqualifying factors, including:
- The nature, extent, and seriousness of the conduct
- The circumstances surrounding the conduct, to include knowledgeable participation
- The frequency and recency of the conduct
- The individual’s age and maturity at the time of the conduct
- The voluntariness of participation
- The presence or absence of rehabilitation and other pertinent behavioral changes
- The motivation for the conduct
- The potential for pressure, coercion, exploitation, or duress
- The likelihood of continuation of recurrence
An experienced DWI defense lawyer can help you identify and support your case in alignment with these laws. While a DWI conviction is a concern, it should not automatically disqualify you, and each case is judged on its own merits.
If you hold a government job with security clearance, a DWI conviction could result in significant collateral damage to your career and reputation. To mitigate this damage, it’s crucial to have an experienced defense attorney who knows the local legal system and can navigate the complex security clearance guidelines. The Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm has a long-standing reputation for providing effective defense strategies to protect your rights and future. Contact us today at our offices in Killeen or Copperas Cove for help. Proudly serving Coryell County, Bell County, McLennan County, Temple, Waco, and Belton.
I’ve dedicated my legal career to defending my clients. I demand all the evidence. I investigate all the facts, the so-called witnesses and even the police officers. I make it my business to know the law. Cases can be won or lost before you even set foot inside the courtroom.
Read more about Mary Beth Harrell