What Happens to Your Security Clearance in Houston When You Are Arrested for DWI?

It may come as a surprise to some just how many of Houston's larger employers require a security clearance in certain positions. These security clearance requirements aren't just for top-level positions either; everyone from clerks to traffic controllers may be required by their employer to obtain federal security clearances.

For many positions with these great companies, getting and maintaining a security clearance is a mandatory requirement of your employment. Unfortunately, making a mistake like driving while intoxicated could end up costing you your security clearance and your livelihood. So what happens to your security clearance in Houston and elsewhere in Texas when you are arrested for DWI?

A DWI charge or conviction can mean you may either lose your clearance or will not be granted clearance, but -- keep in mind -- a DWI isn't guaranteed to cost you your clearance. Your best bet for avoiding the loss of your security clearance is by hiring a criminal defense attorney that is experienced in defending DWI cases. Doug Murphy is one of only two attorneys in Texas to be Board Certified in both criminal defense and DWI defense law. Doug Murphy has the experience needed to guide you through the criminal justice system and give you your best chance at retaining your security clearance.

Houston Employers that Require Security Clearance

Some of the Houston area's largest employers require employees working around sensitive information to have a security clearance through the federal government. However, it's worth noting that these clearances aren't just required at high-level positions. Any person in any position that handles or is in the vicinity of classified information may be required to get a clearance. And it's not limited to just the large companies; smaller businesses and governmental agencies will require security clearance for some hires. Here are a few major Houston employers that require security clearance for some of their hires.


935 North Eldrige Parkway, Houston, Texas

ConocoPhillips is an international energy corporation based in Houston. This giant in the energy industry has over 11,000 employees worldwide; many of them with required security clearances. Because of the national interests in the security of the energy industry, ConocoPhillips requires clearances for both office workers as well as third mate on a company-owned cargo ship.

The City of Houston

901 Bagy Street, Houston, Texas

The City of Houston may not immediately come to mind when you are thinking about security clearance jobs, but the City holds a variety of them. These jobs include security and IT professionals, as well as nearly all of the employees that work at the city-operated airfield.


22777 Springwoods Village Parkway, Houston, Texas

One of the highest-earning companies on Earth, many of ExxonMobil's 69,000 employees are based on the company's Houston campus. The energy company requires security clearances for everything from research engineers to chemists.

General Dynamics

8600 Jameel Road, Houston, Texas

One of General Dynamics largest divisions, Information Technology, is headquartered in Houston. General Dynamics conducts large amounts of research, with much of their work in sensitive areas. The company requires security clearances for their research scientists, lab technicians, and even veterinarians.

Lockheed Martin

2625 Bay Area Boulevard, Houston, Texas

Lockheed Martin is global aerospace and defense corporation headquartered in Maryland. It has a large campus in Houston, where many of the companies' approximately 100,000 employees work. Given the sensitive work surrounding contracting with the Department of Defense, many positions with Lockheed Martin require security clearance from IT workers to systems engineers.


3000 North Sam Houston Parkway E, Houston, Texas

Based in Houston, Texas, Haliburton is best known as the world's largest oil field servicing company. Like other energy companies on this list, Haliburton relies heavily on security clearance hires for jobs like industrial security expert to safety managers.


2101 NASA Parkway, Houston, Texas

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has two major hubs; one of them is Houston. It's no surprise that working for NASA almost always requires some level of security clearance, as matters of national security are at the forefront of what NASA does. Operations managers, flight researchers, and engineers are just a few of the jobs NASA requires security clearances for.

Valero Energy

9701 Manchester Street, Houston, Texas

Based in San Antonio, Valero Energy also has a large presence in Houston with its refinery. Security clearances are required for positions at Valero including safety engineer and security services officer.

How can a DWI Conviction Affect Your Security Clearances in Texas (and How Can any Harm Be Mitigated)?

When considering the granting or revocation of a security clearance, the government will use what is known as the adjudicative process to determine if there was conduct that presents a security threat serious enough to warrant revocation of a security clearance. This process is meant to help determine if you have violated any of the guidelines for eligibility for access to classified information.

Security Clearance Guidelines and Mitigating Factors

The federal government offers 13 guidelines to determine if you are qualified to access to even be in the vicinity of classified information. Violations of these guidelines can lead to an adjudicative review determining that you are a security risk and should not be granted any level of clearance. While the 13 guidelines are broad, there are 5 that could apply to a DWI arrest or conviction. Thankfully, each guideline has mitigating factors that can weigh in your favor during an adjudicative review.

Guideline E – Personal Conduct

Guideline E deals generally with decisions that suggest you have questionable judgment, a lack of candor, are untrustworthy, or are unreliable. This guideline also covers a general unwillingness to comply with rules regulations. Mitigating factors include:

  1. The individual made a prompt, good-faith effort to correct the omission or concealment;
  2. The offense is so minor or distant that it is unlikely to recur
  3. The individual acknowledges the behavior and has obtained counseling to correct the behavior
  4. the individual has taken positive steps to reduce or eliminate vulnerability to exploitation, manipulation, or duress;
  5. association with persons involved in criminal activities has ceased or occurs under circumstances that do not cast doubt upon the individual's reliability, trustworthiness, judgment, or willingness to comply with rules and regulations.

Guideline G – Alcohol Consumption

Guideline G relates to alcohol consumption and specifically mentions driving while intoxicated as a potential security threat. However, it is worth mentioning that the guideline also offers four mitigating factors that are taken into consideration:

  1. The alcohol-related incidents do not indicate a pattern;
  2. The problem occurred a number of years ago and there is no indication of a recent problem;
  3. Positive changes in behavior supportive of sobriety;
  4. Following diagnosis of alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence, the individual has successfully completed inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation along with aftercare requirements, participates frequently in meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous or a similar organization, has abstained from alcohol for a period of at least 12 months, and received a favorable prognosis by a credentialed medical professional or a licensed clinical social worker who is a staff member of a recognized alcohol treatment program.

Guideline H – Drug Involvement

Much like the guideline regarding alcohol use, Guideline H is based on concerns that drug abuse can greatly affect your ability to protect classified information. The mitigating factors under Guideline H include:

  1. The drug involvement was not recent;
  2. The drug involvement was an isolated or aberration event;
  3. A demonstrated intent not to abuse any drugs in the future;
  4. Satisfactory completion of a prescribed drug treatment program, including rehabilitation and aftercare requirements, without recurrence of abuse, and a favorable prognosis by a credentialed medical professional.

Guideline I – Emotional, Mental, and Personality Disorders

Guideline I specifically concerns the presence of any emotional, mental, or personality disorders. The mitigating factors relating to emotional, mental, and personality disorders include:

  1. There is no indication of a current problem;
  2. A recent opinion by a credentialed mental health professional that an individual's previous emotional, mental, or personality disorder is cured, under control or in remission and has a low probability of recurrence or exacerbation;
  3. The past emotional instability was a temporary condition (e.g., one caused by a death, illness, or marital breakup), the situation has been resolved, and the individual is no longer emotionally unstable.

Guideline J – Criminal Conduct

The government takes into account previous DWI arrest when reviewing if a pattern is present. Guideline J doesn't just consider convictions either; the guideline also applies to conduct regardless of whether you were charged with a crime or not. Like the other guidelines, Guideline J includes some mitigating factors. These mitigating factors for Guideline J include:

  1. The criminal behavior was not recent;
  2. The crime was an isolated incident;
  3. The person was pressured or coerced into committing the act and those pressures are no longer present in that person's life;
  4. The person did not voluntarily commit the act and/or the factors leading to the violation are not likely to recur;
  5. The acquittal of the charges against you;
  6. There is clear evidence of successful rehabilitation.

Protect Your Security Clearance by Contacting a Houston DWI Attorney

Whether you are already in possession of a security clearance or are in the process of applying for one, a DWI arrest or conviction can throw a wrench into your employment. The federal government considers a wide range of factors, meaning the face of your security clearance could come down to a fairly small issue. An attorney experienced with DWI defense and security clearance issues may be able to help you secure a dismissal of all charges before trial. Alternatively, if the charges aren't dropped your attorney may be able to win an acquittal at trial. For at least one of the guidelines discussed above, an acquittal on your criminal charges is a major mitigating factor.

If you have been charged with a DWI in the Houston area and rely on a security clearance at work, the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. is ready to help. Doug Murphy is an experienced DWI attorney that understands you rely on your security clearance to make a living. To discuss your case with Doug, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. today for your free consultation.

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