A Secret Service spokesman said the car entered the security checkpoint at 17th Street and Pennsylvania and was immediately stopped by Secret Service uniformed officers.
The male driver was arrested and Washington police checked the car for explosives.
The Secret Service identified the driver as Mathew Evan Goldstein, 55. He was arrested and charged with unlawful entry and was transported to city police for processing.
Goldstein was identified as an employee of the Internal Revenue Service.
People were unable to leave or enter the White House grounds while the car was being checked out.
After more than an hour, the security lockdown was lifted.
"Everything at the White House has been cleared," said a Secret Service spokesman.