Tens of thousands of people living in Northern Virginia work for the government in some fashion, either as employees or performing work on government contracts. Many of those jobs and contracts require the ability to pass a background check for a security clearance — and to maintain that clearance to keep the job or contract.
If you’re a government employee or contractor with a security clearance, or you’re hoping to get a job that requires a security clearance, you may be wondering how your reckless driving charge will affect your ability to get or keep a security clearance. The answer to that question isn’t very clear-cut. Ultimately it will depend on your individual circumstances — the nature of your reckless driving charge, your job or contract, and of your security clearance.
It’s possible that the person responsible for evaluating your security clearance application will view a reckless driving conviction as evidence that you exercised poor judgment. Reckless driving and security clearance applications could pose a problem. The question then becomes, if you had a lapse of judgment when driving, will it happen again when you’re working with sensitive government information? Again, the answer to that question is going to be highly individualized and dependent upon circumstances, including your prior history. A string of convictions likely would weigh against you, while a single offense might be something your clearance review officer can overlook.
What’s important to know is that if you are convicted of reckless driving, which is a crime in Virginia, it will show up on a background check when you apply for a security clearance, or when your clearance is up for review. It may be wise to disclose the conviction beforehand to try to mitigate possible negative consequences.
But perhaps the best strategy if you’re concerned about a security clearance is to fight the reckless driving charge with the help of an experienced traffic defense attorney. A lawyer can represent you in court, make arguments and negotiate on your behalf, and may be successful in getting your charge reduced to a simple traffic infraction such as improper control, or may be able to get your charge dismissed altogether if the facts and evidence are on your side. If your charge is dismissed, your attorney may be able to get the reckless driving arrest expunged from your record so that it doesn’t show up on future background checks.