Can I Get a Federal Job With a DUI? Gov Background Check Rules

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Background Checks | May 31, 2024

Man raising his hands and wondering can I get a federal job with a DUI while looking at himself being pulled over by a red police car and a judge standing behind a courthouse with his hands on his hips.

Many individuals applying for jobs in the federal government wonder, can I get a federal job with a DUI?

Since the charge of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can reach into the felony range (depending on the specifics of the incident), this can be a legitimate concern for people who need to understand the background check rules used for a security clearance and other regulations and requirements for government work.

The federal background check rules vary based on the federal agency involved in the hiring process. However, the federal government generally has stricter hiring policies than most private companies. This makes it difficult, but not impossible to get a federal job with a DUI on your record.

Since many people don’t know how long a DUI offense stays on record, the first thing to do is to see if the DUI is part of what shows up on a background check. This can be done simply and easily by using a name-based search in the state where it was charged. This step is the easiest way to understand the answer to “can I get a federal job with a DUI”.

The second step is to examine the following information to understand what will disqualify someone from federal employment.

Federal Criminal Background Check for Employment

People who are considering applying for a job in the federal government should know, regardless of their criminal history, that the federal government has its own unique background check and there are specific disqualifiers. Not only is this background check that is required for federal employment, but it is also likely the most thorough check that most individuals will undergo.

As opposed to most businesses who aim to limit potential lawsuits with their background checks in an effort to save money in the long term, the primary goal of a federal employment background check has more to do with national security than financial liability. This means that background checks are extremely thorough and almost nothing will slip by unnoticed in a federal background check.

Although it is the checks beyond the criminal history check that can make the federal employment check performed by the OPM so intimidating,5 the criminal history check itself is just about as thorough as possible. While most of the background check is performed by the United States Office of Personnel Management, the criminal history portion of the check is performed by the FBI.

The Identity History Summary Check that the FBI performs is a mandatory criminal history check for anyone who wishes to work in the federal government.1 The check is performed the same regardless of the position or agency that the individual has applied for. Everyone from entry-level employees with the USPS to high-security clearance jobs with the Department of Homeland Security will begin with an Identity History Summary Check.4

Although most private background checks, such as the ones performed by companies like Amazon or Walmart, use a name-based background check system, the FBI uses a fingerprint-based check. Using fingerprint information the FBI performs the following criminal history checks.

  • Local Criminal History Check
  • State-Level Criminal History Check
  • National Criminal History Check
  • Federal Criminal History Check
  • International Criminal History Check (Usually through an agency such as INTERPOL)

While most private background check services only perform state-level checks for potential employees, the federal background check is able to search all information about an individual. Furthermore, since the FBI is a federal agency and not subject to state laws, the background check will not be limited by the 7-year-rule that many states follow. This allows the FBI to view an individual’s entire criminal history regardless of the age of the crime.

Knowing how to check for your own federal records and look up federal warrants can help.

How Far Back Does a Federal Background Check Go?

Some individuals asking: Can I get a federal job with a DUI? May have an old DUI on their record that they are worried about and wonder how far back a federal records check can go?

As mentioned, federal background checks are not subject to state laws that limit background check agencies to finding information regarding crimes that are 7 years or older. The only laws that the FBI background check must follow are the fairly limited parameters set by the FCRA,2 which currently has no limit on how far back a background check can go.

Federal background checks go back forever, and can even view the records for crimes that have been sealed. When an individual goes through the process of getting a criminal record sealed, this only limits the public’s ability to find and view this information. Since the FBI is a government agency, background checks performed by them will be able to view sealed records.

How Long Does a Federal Job Background Check Take?

What’s the duration of a federal background screening? It can depend. Federal job background checks are some of the most thorough of any background check, and consequently, they tend to take far longer than most background checks. Since most background checks are name-based they can be completed in just a few days as the search itself is nearly instantaneous. This is not the case with a fingerprint-based background check.

Fingerprints must first be gathered by an agency that will send them to the FBI, this alone will add days to the process in some cases. After this, the fingerprints must be put into the FBI database before they are run through the various criminal databases. Even with fingerprints being gathered electronically in most cases, the process will still take up to two weeks at a minimum.

Keep in mind that the fingerprint criminal history check is the longest part of the background check process for only entry-level jobs. Positions that require security clearance will have other background checks performed such as extensive reference checks. These more intensive checks can take weeks or months to finish.

Some federal jobs will have a background check timeline of up to 9 months.

Federal Employment Background Check Disqualifiers

The background check disqualifiers for federal jobs are surprisingly limited, however, it is important to keep in mind that there is a difference between something that is an official disqualifier and something that will cause you to not get the job.

The list of background check disqualifiers is outlined by the Department of Homeland Security on its official website.3 The list mostly contains obvious disqualifiers when it comes to working with the federal government and lists only the most extreme findings. For example, the list mentions sedition, treason, espionage, and terrorist acts.

Beyond the automatic disqualifiers, the website also lists what is referred to as “interim disqualifiers,” These are essentially crimes that are grounds for disqualification only if the individual is convicted of such crimes. This list includes less serious crimes compared to automatic disqualifiers such as robbery, extortion, bribery, and manslaughter.

Can You Pass a Federal Background Check With a Misdemeanor?

Like most jobs, it is technically possible to pass a federal background check with a misdemeanor, but it will depend heavily on the nature of the crime itself as well as the job duties and how that crime may relate to them.

Keep in mind that many jobs run federal background checks, not just jobs that are in the federal government. A federal background check simply refers to a background check performed by the FBI, even if the employer is a private business or state agency.

When it comes to jobs in the federal government, the higher the security clearance and the more sensitive the information the individual will have access to, the less likely a misdemeanor will be overlooked. Once again this is mostly due to the fact that national security is the primary concern.

This means that when examining an individual’s criminal history, even if a misdemeanor conviction has nothing to do with the potential job duty, it may be seen as a sign of low integrity and that the individual can not be trusted with important information.

Can You Get a Federal Job With a Misdemeanor?

Getting a federal job with a misdemeanor is entirely possible. As discussed above, there is a very limited list of automatic disqualifiers when it comes to the federal government. Even though many misdemeanors will result in disqualification, this generally means that the hiring manager will at the very least give applicants a chance to explain their past criminal history and any steps they have taken to improve themselves and move forward from a criminal past.

This opportunity to demonstrate your self-improvement will be the biggest factor in deciding whether or not the misdemeanor will be overlooked. Of course, certain crimes will not be overlooked regardless of the reason such as violent crimes, crimes against children, or vehicular misdemeanors for jobs that require driving.

Will DUI Fail Background Check?

Can I get a federal job with a DUI, is one of the most common questions individuals ask before applying to federal jobs.

DUIs are rarely automatic fails when it comes to a background check, regardless of whether the job is with the federal government or in the private sector. This is another matter of the individual’s attitude toward the crime and whether or not they have taken any steps to improve and move past this crime. Just like with a standard job interview, being prepared for any questions about your background check and having an honest and thoughtful response prepared will go a long way in improving your chances.

Can You Get a Job With a DUI? Can I Get a Federal Job With a DUI?

Getting a job with a DUI on your record can be difficult but is not impossible. One of the reasons that so many individuals have questions about DUI background checks is that the path to expungement for a DUI offense is often non-existent.

Although more and more states are making it possible to get certain crimes sealed to help individuals find employment, most states still do not allow DUIs to be sealed or expunged under any circumstances. This means almost all state background checks will include a DUI unless the charge is old enough and the job is in a 7-year state. However, since federal background checks can go back forever, a DUI will always be present on a federal background check.

Screenshot of FBI Jobs website page for employment with yellow arrows pointing to the eligibility requirements for a vacant position in the FBI.

Use the table below to learn more about the DUI policy of jobs and federal agencies. Keep in mind that the decision is ultimately up to the hiring manager and will depend on a number of factors. Even if a DUI is not a disqualifier, an individual with multiple DUIs will be seen as untrustworthy and will likely not be hired.

JobCan you get a job with a DUI?
Can you get a state job with a DUI?Sometimes – will depend on the position in question but most low-level positions will be able to overlook a DUI.
Can you be a security guard with a DUI?Yes – This will be up to the security agency but most do not automatically disqualify individuals with DUIs.
Can I get a driving job with a DUI?Maybe – getting a drop that requires driving with a DUI is highly unlikely but if the DUI is old enough or there are other unique circumstances it is possible.
Can you get a sales job with a DUI?Yes – most sales jobs will be willing to overlook a DUI in many cases.
Can you work for Homeland Security with a DUI?Probably not – Although not technically a disqualifier, the Department of Homeland Security has extremely strict hiring practices based on integrity and trust.
Can you work for the VA with a DUI?Yes – It is possible to get a job with the VA with a DUI.
Can you get a government job with DUI?Yes – although high-level government jobs will not be able to overlook a DUI, many government agencies will.

Federal Employee DUI Policy

There is no official DUI policy for the federal government as a whole. Individual agencies may have internal DUI policies but these are often kept secret.

In general, the higher the security clearance, the less likely a DUI will be overlooked. Many jobs in the federal government do extensive substance abuse and integrity checks to determine an applicant’s trustworthiness. Since these are done to determine if someone can be trusted with national security, very few risks will be taken.

What Kind of High-Paying Jobs Can You Get With a DUI? Can I Get a Federal Job With a DUI?

There are tons of high-paying jobs that you can get with a DUI. Individuals wondering, Can I get a federal job with a DUI? May be disappointed by how strict many federal agencies are regarding DUIs but the reality is that most private companies will be willing to overlook a single DUI charge.

Can a Person With Criminal Records Get Government Job?

The federal government, just like most employers, will hire individuals with criminal records, provided that there is no indication that the criminal record will impact their job performance. Although any kind of criminal record is likely to be a red flag, only the most serious of crimes will be automatic disqualifiers.

The most important thing to do is to be open and honest about your criminal history when applying for a job with the federal government.

Can You Get a Government Job With a Misdemeanor?

Plenty of federal jobs will hire individuals with misdemeanors on their records. Many misdemeanors are viewed as low risk and will be overlooked if they don’t have anything to do with the job itself. This means that theft misdemeanors will often be harder to overlook as the individual can be seen as a potential liability if having access to cash or valuable items is required for the position.

Can a Federal Employee Be Fired for a Misdemeanor?

Federal employees will often be fired for committing misdemeanors while employed. Keep in mind that simply being convicted of a misdemeanor is not always cause for termination, but certain circumstances or certain crimes being committed may be against the policy of the federal employer and thus will be grounds for termination.

Can a Federal Employee Be Fired for Misconduct?

Employees can almost always be fired for misconduct. This is one of the reasons that government and private employers alike have thorough employee handbooks and disciplinary actions outlined at the start of a new job. This makes it easier for employers to fire employees for misconduct since they are violating a clearly stated company policy.

What Government Jobs Can a Felon Get?

Although misdemeanors are commonly overlooked, individuals with felony records will have a much tougher time finding employment with the federal government. However, it is not impossible to gain employment with a government employer as a felon.

Generally, felons will be limited to entry-level jobs in the federal government and will likely not be able to pass a background check for any security clearance jobs. Just like a misdemeanor, the nature of the felony and how the crime relates to the job will be a major factor when it comes to getting hired. For example, individuals with vehicle-related felonies will not be able to get a job that requires driving in most cases.

Can a Convicted Felon Work for the Federal Government?

A convicted felon can absolutely find employment in the federal government, although the positions available will be fairly limited.

Screenshot of TSA website page for applicant self-assessment checklist with yellow arrow pointing to the list of felonies that will disqualify applicants for employment with TSA.

The best thing that anyone can do before applying for a job in the federal government is to perform a background check on yourself. This will allow individuals to know exactly what kind of information a potential employer will find as well as give individuals an opportunity to fix their background check of any possible mistakes.

Background checks can be performed online using a private background check service in a matter of minutes, individuals can also use the search bar at the top of this page to perform a free check on themselves. Finally, some individuals may see it fit to perform a federal background check on themselves to be as thorough as possible.

Applying for a job can be stressful and applying for a job with the federal government can be even worse than most. Luckily, the federal government’s hiring practices are not quite as strict as many people may think they are. Asking questions like “Can I get a federal job with a DUI?” will allow individuals to be informed on what to expect from a federal background check.

Frequently Asked Questions About Can I Get a Federal Job With a DUI

What Jobs Do a DUI Disqualify You For?

Most jobs involving security clearance as well as jobs involving driving or operating heavy machinery will have disqualifiers involving DUI offenses.

Can You Get a Government Job With a DUI?

Yes, many entry-level government jobs will be willing to overlook a DUI charge on an individual’s criminal record. So long as the job does not require a security clearance or has anything in the job duties that relates to a DUI, the charge can be overlooked.

Does a DUI Prevent You From Getting a Job?

A DUI can prevent many individuals from finding employment. Private companies are able to set any disqualifiers that they want and many will not hire anyone with a DUI. However, many jobs will actually make an effort to hire individuals with criminal records, provided the individual has made it clear that they are working to improve themself.

What Government Jobs for Felons Myths Are True?

A common misconception is that misdemeanors, DUIs, and some other crimes will disappear from a background check after a certain amount of time. This may be true at the state level but federal background checks will be able to view an individual’s entire criminal history.

Does FEMA Hire Felons?

Although there are no specific disqualifiers for FEMA employees when it comes to felonies, most federal agencies will not hire any individual with a felony on their record.

Can You Work For the FBI With an Expunged Record?

The FBI generally does not hire anyone with a criminal record of any kind. Although many individuals may be under the impression that sealed and expunged records are not available as part of a background check, this is not true when it comes to the FBI. Sealed and Expunged records will hide the criminal record from the public view but official agencies, such as the FBI will still be able to find and view this information and make a hiring decision based on what they find.

Can You Work For the FBI With a Felony?

Although the FBI does not make its hiring practices very accessible to the public, most government agencies will not hire an individual with a felony. Since the FBI has far stricter hiring practices than most government agencies, it is safe to assume that the FBI will not hire any individual with a felony on their record.

What Disqualifies You From Public Trust Clearance?

Anything that indicates that the individual has low integrity or is untrustworthy will disqualify them from public trust clearance. Although there are few specific things that will disqualify an individual the background checks are performed in a way to give the investigator a reasonable overview of someone’s trustworthiness. Anything that indicates that the individual has low integrity or is untrustworthy will disqualify them.


1FBI. (2022, August 09). Identity History Summary Checks (Rap Sheets). FBI. Retrieved August 25, 2022, from <>

2FTC. (2020, March 04). Fair Credit Reporting Act. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved August 25, 2022, from <>

3TSA. (2022). Disqualifying Offenses and Other Factors. Transportation Security Administration. Retrieved August 25, 2022, from <>

4U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2022, August 24). Home. Homeland Security. Retrieved August 25, 2022, from <>

5U.S. Office of Personnel Management. (2022, August 23). Home. Retrieved August 25, 2022, from <>

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