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Kansas Senate Majority Leader Arrested on DUI and Fleeing Charges, but Judge Says No Probable Cause

Updated 03/16/21 at noon

Officers in Shawnee County booked Kansas Senate Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop early Tuesday on charges of driving under the influence, improperly crossing a divided highway, speeding and fleeing or attempting to elude an officer.

Yet hours later, a judge released Suellentrop after saying there wasn’t probable cause for the arrest because of information missing from the arrest report. It’s not clear if law enforcement will continue pursuing the charges. 

The Shawnee County Department of Corrections website shows Suellentrop was booked at 3:55 a.m. Tuesday and charged with four offenses.

The Kansas Highway Patrol says a vehicle was driving the wrong way on Interstate 70 in Topeka early Tuesday. The vehicle stopped after a short pursuit by Capitol Police. An officer then arrested a driver alleged to be Suellentrop.

The Kansas Constitution offers lawmakers some immunity from arrest during the legislative session. That section of the constitution says lawmakers can’t be arrested during the session except for “treason, felony or breach of the peace.”

Suellentrop is one of the top Republicans in the Senate. He’s a conservative Republican from Wichita who took over as majority leader this year when he was elected to the post by his fellow senators. He’s served in the Legislature since 2009.

A spokesperson for the Senate Republican leadership confirms the chamber’s leaders are aware of the arrest, but had no statement as of Tuesday morning.


Stephen Koranda is KPR's Statehouse reporter.