Kansas Senate leader charged with DUI, reckless driving, evading police, and driving down the wrong side of the highway

Gene Suellentrop
Kansas Senate Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop seen in the center of this 2015 photo. AP Photo/Nicholas Clayton
  • Kansas State Sen. Gene Suellentrop faces multiple charges, including DUI and evading police.
  • He was arrested earlier in March after 911 callers reported him driving the wrong way down the highway.
  • The new charges were announced Friday by Shawnee County DA Mike Kagay.
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Kansas State Sen. Gene Suellentrop, a Republican and the majority leader of the state Senate, is facing a list of charges, including DUI, following his arrest in Topeka earlier in March.

Five charges were filed against Sullentrop Friday, including a felony count of evading police, the DUI charge, and a misdemeanor count of reckless driving. According to The Associated Press, Sullentrop turned himself in to authorities Friday afternoon and faces a $US5,000 ($6,560) bond.

Mike Kagay, a Republican and the Shawnee County district attorney, announced the charges Friday. Kagay in a news release said Sullentrop was the only occupant of the SUV at the time of his arrest on March 16. Police used “tactical vehicle intervention” to bring Sullentrop to a stop, he said.

Neither Suellentrop nor his office immediately returned Insider’s request for comment.

The most serious charge – the felony count of evading police – can carry a prison sentence between five and seven months for a first-time offender, though it’s more likely he’ll face probation, according to The Associated Press.

Audio released by the Shawnee County Dispatch and published by the local news outlet KSNT showed several people called 911 to report they saw a white SUV driving west in the eastbound lanes of I-470 and eventually driving on I-70 around 12:45 a.m. on March 16, according to local media outlets.

Suellentrop, one of the top Republican lawmakers in the state, was driving for at least 11 minutes, according to the AP report.

The Capitol Police division of the Kansas Highway Patrol arrested Suellentrop, 68, in downtown Topeka after “a short pursuit” in which officers discussed using stop-sticks on his SUV to slow down the vehicle, according to police audio published by KSNT.

The KHP said on Thursday it had no plans to release records regarding Sullentrop’s arrest because such reports weren’t required for DUI incidents, according to a previous Associated Press report.

According to the initial arrest report, Sulletntrop was charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, fleeing or attempting to flee from a law enforcement officer, speeding, and improperly crossing a divided highway, but a judge hours after his arrest released Sullentrop from jail and said police hadn’t provided enough evidence to substantiate the charges.

Many of Sullentrop’s duties as Senate majority leader have been taken over temporarily by Assistant Majority Leader Larry Alley, also a Republican, according to the report.