News Release|

A Baca County judge will be spending time in jail after her second DUI offense within two years.

Debra Gunkel, 62, pleaded guilty May 7 in Prowers County Court to violating the terms of her probation in a 2018 DUI case by committing another DUI offense in Kansas on Aug. 17, 2019.

When Gunkel pleads guilty to the Kansas DUI in June, jail time is mandatory.

Gunkel was arrested by the Prowers County Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 14, 2018. She was driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.137.

The District Attorney’s Office of the 18th Judicial District was named special prosecutor in the case in February 2018.

Gunkel pleaded guilty to driving under the influence on Oct. 26, 2018. She received a deferred judgment: The conviction could be erased, if she successfully completed two years of probation.

That did not happen. Not even 10 months later, Gunkel drove drunk again, this time in Kansas. Her probation in the Prowers County case was revoked in October 2019. When she pleaded guilty last week, the court revoked the deferred judgment and entered the DUI conviction.

“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.”

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