This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.
By John V. Berry, Esq.
We see many types of security clearance cases involving alcohol usage. The pandemic has not helped matters as many people have engaged in more alcohol usage while at home.
One of the most common issues that has arisen over the past few years in the context of security clearance holders or applicants involves alcohol abuse or over-consumption.
Alcohol Consumption/Abuse by Cleared Employees or Applicants
Under the security clearance guidelines, alcohol over-consumption and abuse can be a major factor in determining whether a person obtains or keeps their security clearance.
Security concerns regarding this issue fall under Adjudicative Guideline G, Alcohol Consumption of Security Executive Agency Directive (SEAD) 4. These are the guidelines that apply across the Government for security clearance holders.
Alcohol security concerns can come into play when an individual has a major alcohol-related incident. The most common issue that begins a security clearance review is a recent alcohol-related traffic incident, such as being arrested for driving under the influence. A recent event gives security clearance officials pause and makes them ask the question of whether or not it is an isolated incident or something more serious.
Security Concerns Raised by Alcohol Abuse or Consumption
When security clearance issues arise involving alcohol abuse or over-consumption, it is very important to take them seriously.
The major security concern for federal agencies that evaluate security clearances is that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to the use of questionable judgment or the failure to control impulses, both of which are not considered acceptable for purposes of access to classified information. As a result, the Government has listed alcohol-related concerns that could cause one to lose (or not get) a security clearance. Quoting from SEAD 4, these include:
“(a) alcohol-related incidents away from work, such as driving while under the influence, fighting, child or spouse abuse, disturbing the peace, or other incidents of concern, regardless of the frequency of the individual’s alcohol use or whether the individual has been diagnosed with alcohol use disorder
(b) alcohol-related incidents at work, such as reporting for work or duty in an intoxicated or impaired condition, drinking on the job, or jeopardizing the welfare and safety of others, regardless of whether the individual is diagnosed with alcohol use disorder
(c) habitual or binge consumption of alcohol to the point of impaired judgment, regardless of whether the individual is diagnosed with alcohol use disorder
(d) diagnosis by a duly qualified medical or mental health professional (e.g., physician, clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, or licensed clinical social worker) of alcohol use disorder
(e) the failure to follow treatment advice once diagnosed
(f) alcohol consumption, which is not in accordance with treatment recommendations, after a diagnosis of alcohol use disorder
(g) failure to follow any court order regarding alcohol education, evaluation, treatment, or abstinence.”
How to Mitigate Alcohol-Related Security Concerns
The Government has established a number of ways in which a security clearance holder or applicant can mitigate alcohol-related security concerns. They include, but are not limited to, the following:
- A significant amount of time has passed since the alcohol-related incident.
- The alcohol usage or related incident was unusual and/or is unlikely to happen again.
- The individual acknowledges their alcohol issue and provides evidence to show that they have overcome it or are seriously working on the alcohol issues through treatment.
- The individual has completed a treatment program and established a pattern of modified consumption or abstinence.
Alcohol consumption security clearance issues can involve many different variables so seeking experienced counsel is critical; every case is different. The key for successfully handling alcohol-related security clearance issues is to focus on them as early as possible.
If you are in need of security clearance law representation or advice, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or Twitter.
Arlington Housing Costs Still Rising — “The District of Columbia continued to lead the pack with an average per-square-foot sales price of $543, down from $555. Falls Church also reported…
A 5 BD/5.5 BA four level home with a two-car garage an finished basement is included in Just Listed.
The $38 million transformation of the Washington-Liberty annex is nearly complete. Over the last three years, the nearly six-decade-old Arlington Education Center has undergone a complete overhaul to turn it…
A driver was nearly carjacked in a parking garage about a block from the Crystal City Metro station. The incident happened around 10:20 p.m. last night (Wednesday) on the 200…
Do you struggle with anxiety, depression, stress, grief, trauma or anger? Are
you ready to make a change?
Lauren K. Nickum, LCSW, CSAC from Peaceful Mind Solutions is now taking new
clients for psychotherapy. Lauren has over 10 years of experience treating
mental health disorders and general life stress in adults and adolescents. For
more information visit
As the summer winds down, it’s a great time to look forward to a creative fall! Art House 7 has a terrific selection of classes, for preschoolers to adults. Our fall session, starting September 6, offers painting, drawing, sculpture, collage, ceramics (including the wheel) and sewing. We have specialty classes such as Suminagashi, the ancient art of Japanese water marbling.
If you’re looking for a shorter commitment, we also have a full schedule of workshops, Art Nights, and Morning Art Socials. If you haven’t discovered Art House 7, please check us out! We offer classes throughout the year, taught by a range of fantastic teachers. You can buy art supplies next door. We’re near the Lee Harrison shopping center, and free parking is outside our door.
Art House 7
5537 Langston Blvd.Arlington VA 22207
Have you ever considered purchasing a rental property but weren’t sure where to start? This free webinar will go over the basics of how to invest in real estate, how to choose rental properties, and a market overview. Our Director