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Colorado judge arrested for 2nd DUI in 2 years

The Baca County judge will receive a mandatory jail sentence for the DUI, according to the DA's office.
Credit: State of Colorado
Debra Gunkel

BACA COUNTY, Colo. — A judge in southeast Colorado will be facing a mandatory jail sentence after she was arrested for DUI for the second time in two years, a news release from the District Attorney's (DA) Office for the 18th Judicial District says. 

Debra Gunkel, 62, was arrested on Aug. 17, 2019, in Kansas, the release says. 

At the time of her arrest, she was on probation for a 2018 DUI conviction. In that case, she pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in Prowers County, Colorado. She had a blood-alcohol level of 0.137 when she was arrested by the Prowers County Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 14, 2018.

As part of Gunkel's 2018 plea agreement, the DUI conviction would be erased if she successfully completed two years of probation, according to the DA's office 

Gunkel pleaded guilty on May 7 to violating the terms of that probation. 

The DA news release said she is expected to plead guilty to the Kansas DUI case in June and jail time will be mandatory. 

“No one is above the law – not law enforcement, not elected officials, not prosecutors and not judges,” said District Attorney George Brauchler. “All it takes to end drunk driving — wait for it — is for people to stop drinking and getting behind the wheel. This defendant, someone who has sat in judgment of numerous drunk drivers who appeared in her courtroom, was offered a second chance and a vehicle for rehabilitation. She chose to squander that opportunity. She will pay the consequences.”

According to the Colorado courts website, Gunkel was appointed as a judge in 2010. 

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