Uniformed agents immediately stopped the vehicle after it trailed in behind the motorcade about 4:40 p.m., the Secret Service said.
The driver, identified as Mathew Evan Goldstein, 55, was arrested and charged with unlawful entry. His hometown was not given.
District of Columbia police swept the vehicle for explosives as it sat a few feet away from the northwest gate of the White House. Access to Pennsylvania Avenue and the White House complex was restored about an hour later.
A law enforcement official said the motorcade was returning Obama's daughters to the White House.
The official said Goldstein has a pass for the Treasury Department, which is next door to the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue.
The law enforcement official was not authorized to discuss Obama's family or details of the investigation, and therefore requested anonymity.