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“I take full responsibility,” Sen. Suellentrop says after found guilty in March wrong-way, drunk driving incident

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 10:39 AM CDT
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The former Kansas Senate Majority Leader will serve two days in jail and one year on probation for a March 16, 2021 drunk driving incident along I-70 in Topeka.

Gene Suellentrop was in Shawnee Co. District Court Monday morning where he entered “no contest” pleas to charges of drunk driving and reckless driving, avoiding a felony conviction, which would have ended his time in public office.

After entering the plea, Judge Jason Geier found Suellentrop guilty on both counts.

“The defendant is confident to enter the plea, the plea is freely, voluntarily, and intelligently made. the court accepts your plea, you are hear by a judge guilty.” Judge Geier said.

Court documents stated the senator from Wichita was caught in the early morning hours of March 16, 2021, driving 90 miles per hour on I-70, going the wrong way, and barely missing several vehicles.

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That morning Suellentrop was arrested for driving under the influence, speeding, improper crossover on a divided highway, and attempting to run from the police.

“They noted his eyes were watery, droopy, and bloodshot. The defendant was also mumbling and slurring his speech when responding to law enforcement questions. It was determined that his alcohol level was point-one-seven,” Prosecutor Charles F. Kitt with the Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office explained in court Monday.

According to an affidavit, Suellentrop’s blood alcohol content was point-one-seven, more than twice the legal limit.

In court Monday, Suellentrop said he’s responsible for his actions.

“There are many lessons to be learned from circumstances like these and I can assure you I’ve learned my fair share,” Suellentrop said. “I take full responsibility for my actions and I apologize for my actions. You will not see me in this court or any other court of law for any similar infractions whatsoever.”

For the DUI, Judge Geier sentenced Suellentrop to the maximum sentence of 6-months in prison at the Shawnee Co. Jail and was fined $750. However, the court suspended the sentence and ordered Suellentrop to serve 12-months of supervised probation.

On the reckless driving count, Suellentrop was ordered to spend 90 days in jail and fined $25. That sentence was also suspended in lieu of 6 months supervised probation.

Judge Geier indicated the suspension of sentences was standard procedure for first-time offenders of crimes of this nature.

Suellentrop declined to comment after the hearing. Suellentrop’s probation will run concurrent and will not start until he serves 48-hours in the Shawnee Co. jail, which will begin Nov. 18, 2021.

Colleagues removed Suellentrop from the majority leader’s position shortly after his arrest.

Under state law, a felony conviction would have prevented him from continuing to hold any public office.

Suellentrop was also ordered to install ignition interlock device while on probation, ordered to abstain from alcohol and drugs during probation, and will be required to pay court fees.

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