Ramsey County District Court Judge G. Tony Atwal wasted no time in entering a guilty plea to a gross misdemeanor charge of having a blood-alcohol content over the legal limit within two hours of driving.
He was arrested by St. Paul police on New Year’s Day and pleaded guilty on Jan. 2. He was sentenced to 365 days in the workhouse, with 345 days stayed. He will serve his remaining time on home detention with electronic monitoring and work release if he is found eligible, and was ordered into dependency evaluation and possible treatment. He will be on probation for two years and pay a fine of $986.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that the 43-year-old judge apologized to “everyone in Minnesota” and said he was “humbled and shamed” by the arrest.
A criminal complaint filed Tuesday charged Atwal with two counts of third-degree driving while intoxicated, careless driving and failing to stop for a stop sign.
The Pioneer Press reported the complaint said the judge had a blood-alcohol level of more than twice the legal limit when he was stopped for speeding in St. Paul early on New Year’s Day. ABC News reported that the BAC results showed a .17 alcohol concentration.
In 2007, Atwal pleaded guilty to fourth-degree driving with a BAC over .08 in Washington County. He did not take a BAC test.
Atwal was appointed to the bench by Gov. Mark Dayton in May 2016.