Alcohol Consumption and Impacts on Clearance Eligibility
The total number of Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals (DOHA) security clearance denials involving alcohol consumption went down from 82 in 2022 to 69 in 2023. In most cases, the use of alcohol concerns was added in with other adjudicative guidelines such as criminal conduct or illegal drug use. However, on occasion, the denial is based on the sole concern of the applicant’s alcohol consumption. Here is a quick summary of one such case and the appeal.
This DoD contractor joined the U.S. Navy straight out of high school and retired after 26 years. While in the Navy, the environment with his fellow sailors included excessive alcohol use. A history of driving under the influence followed with arrests in 2004, 2009, and 2021. The contractor claimed to have totally abstained from using alcohol from 2009 to 2014 and completed substance abuse programs in 2010. In 2015, in his interview with a background investigator, he admitted to having started drinking alcohol again in 2014, but had modified his drinking to no longer reaching the point of inebriation. After his 2021 arrest, he claims to have reset and ensures his wife drives him if he has more than one drink. This was corroborated by his spouse at the hearing.
The DOHA judge was of the opinion that there were still concerns regarding his alcohol use and the contractor had not met his burden of showing that driving under the influence or displaying bad judgement while intoxicated was unlikely to recur. The fact that he admitted continuing to drive after having one drink leaves questions and doubts. Under Guideline G, clearance eligibility was denied.