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What You Need to Know about DWI & Security Clearances in NH?

Many people do not realize just how wide-reaching the consequences of a DWI are. But we at Tenn And Tenn, P.A., through years of working with DWI clients, understand it fully. The ramifications of a conviction do not begin and end at sentencing. Perhaps the most critical blow dealt by a DWI conviction is the effect it can have on the person's career. Almost every profession, and a person's ability to find employment within it, can be negatively impacted by a DWI. Nurses, teachers, doctors and elected officials alike can feel the sting of a DWI for years to come. Due to the stigma of the charge, many employers are reluctant to offer employment to anyone with this dark mark on their record. Those who require security clearance to effectively do their job can be uniquely effected, even more so than people who look for work in the private sector after a DWI.

Not being able to obtain security clearance could potentially make you unemployable if your area of work requires you to have it; in the least, it will narrow your options for employment. On the other hand, for other jobs not requiring security clearance, it is up to the discretion of the hiring manager. This makes it critical for anyone accused of a DWI to contact a lawyer immediately to review options and begin building a defense. For any New Hampshire resident who has already been convicted of a DWI and is seeking security clearance (or who already has it and is wondering what effect it may have on the job), here is what you need to know.

How Does a DWI Affect Existing Security Clearance?

If you have already obtained security clearance for your job, the DWI may not become an issue until your clearance goes up for review. Even then, your employer is unlikely to revoke your clearance due to an isolated incident. This is assuming you are dealing with a typical misdemeanor DWI. It is possible, though not certain, that a felony DWI, such as those that resulted in serious bodily injury, could be treated less favorably.

Should I Tell my Boss About my DWI?

Technically speaking, there is no law requiring employees to disclose a DWI charge or conviction to a boss. However, if you are required by your employment contract to disclose a DWI, then review your employment paperwork and consult with your DWI attorney about the best means of disclosure.

That being said, contending with a DWI charge could potentially make you miss work days, although this is not guaranteed.

It is advised to not inform coworkers about your DWI, especially while it is ongoing.

Federal Guidelines for Security Clearance and DWI Charges: Will a DWI Prevent Someone From Obtaining Security Clearance?

There are 13 guidelines dictating the process by which someone qualifies for security clearance. A DWI could be relevant in at least 5 of these guidelines, codified in Chapter 13 Section 147 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Although the DWI may have applicability to more than one of the guidelines, ultimately the government and the employer are meant to take a "whole person" approach to the question of clearance. This means they will weigh the DWI against the rest of your background, without immediately disqualifying or revoking clearance in a "deal breaker" manner. The process is subjective; a DWI is not a one way ticket to revocation.

When Does a DWI Hurt my Ability to Obtain and Keep Security Clearance?

If the DWI, in combination with other factors in your background, "reflects a recurring pattern of questionable judgment, irresponsibility, or emotionally unstable," 32 E.C.F.R. sec. 147.2 (d), there is a greater chance that the person will be disqualified and not receive security clearance.

In evaluating an individual's background for security clearance, the government seeks to establish, among other things, the person's willingness to comply with the rules through good judgment, candor and a degree of honesty. Factors in someone's background that suggest poor judgment and a tendency toward dishonesty may significantly hurt, if not hinder, an ability to obtain security clearance. Any type of arrest may suggest poor judgment, but those with a DWI conviction can partially mitigate the negative by demonstrating candor and honesty with regard to the conviction. This move, while it could be beneficial in the long run, should only be acted on after consulting with your attorney. At the very least, do not attempt to conceal your DWI or falsify documents regarding it, as this almost certainly will portray you as untrustworthy to those looking into your background when they ultimately discover the DWI.

If excessive alcohol consumption outside of the workplace appears to be a chronic issue, this could be construed as poor impulse control and lack of general responsibility, which could prevent authorities from issuing you security clearance. A person with a DWI conviction should absolutely conduct themselves in a way that emphasizes that the DWI was an entirely isolated incident.

Any established tendency toward drunk driving is a security issue and safety concern. The damaging effect of a DWI can be mitigated by a showing of any of the following:

  • A great deal of time has passed since the DWI.
  • A rehabilitation program was successfully completed.
  • Alcoholic Anonymous meetings are or were frequently attended.
  • The person abstains from alcohol at present.

If there are any issues stemming from a DWI conviction, such as alcohol abuse, the government likes to see the person make an active effort to address and correct them. Drug or alcohol abuse may interfere with an individual's ability to protect classified information if it affects occupational and social functioning. Even if a person is sober and alert on the job, there can be additional concerns about the ability to refrain from discussing classified information if they are abusing drugs or alcohol off the clock. Any overarching drug or alcohol issues must be dilligently addressed, otherwise they may be incredibly damaging to perception of the individual seeking clearance.

Comprehensive DWI Defense in New Hampshire

If you have been charged with a DWI and you have security clearance or are seeking it, contact our experienced attorneys at Tenn And Tenn, P.A. We are here to ensure you get the best defense possible. Don't let a DWI stand in the way of your career. Contact Tenn And Tenn, P.A., either online or at 888-511-1010.


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