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Speaker of the House KC Becker, right, meets with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, left, and Rep. Matt Gray, center, as the second regular session of the 72nd Colorado General Assembly convenes at the Colorado State Capitol on Jan. 8, 2020. (Kathryn Scott, Special to The Colorado Sun)

State Rep. Matt Gray, a Broomfield Democrat, pleaded guilty Wednesday to driving while ability impaired and was sentenced to a year of supervised probation and 24 hours of useful public service. 

Gray was arrested this spring by Broomfield police officers on suspicion of driving under the influence as he tried to pick up his kids from school. 

Broomfield officers wrote in a report that Gray was slurring his words and unsteady on his feet and that his breath smelled of alcohol when they encountered him on April 21. Gray denied being intoxicated, according to police, though he declined a breath test and a sobriety test. 

The lawmaker said in a tweet posted in the days after his arrest that his behavior and demeanor were a result of his anxiety and depression. The tweet was later deleted.

At a brief hearing in Broomfield County Court on Wednesday, Gray’s attorney said the state lawmaker was suffering from “some pretty significant mental health issues” leading up to the arrest and that during his encounter with officers he was in the midst of a panic attack. 

The attorney, Loren Brown, said Gray had consumed some alcohol earlier in the day in an effort to try to calm himself. 

“The combination of this kind of panic attack, erratic behavior and the odor of alcohol — the folks at the school intervened, made sure that he was safe and then the officers arrived,” Brown said. “There was a lot of conversation between Mr. Gray and the officers and he was trying to explain that he was having a mental health crisis. They weren’t hearing him. That caused him to be a little bit frustrated, and he ultimately refused any testing.”

Brown said Gray, whose only remarks during Wednesday’s hearing were to answer the judge’s questions, has been receiving counseling for his mental health as well as for substance abuse. 

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Gray represents House District 33. Until he was arrested, Gray was running for reelection to his fourth and final two-year term in the House. His current term ends in January.

A Democratic vacancy committee selected Broomfield Councilman William Lindstedt to run in Gray’s place in November in the safe Democratic district. 

Gray, a former prosecutor, was first elected in 2016 and has championed transportation issues at the Capitol, particularly around funding road and transit projects. He was also one of the architects of Colorado’s new paid family and parental leave program, approved by voters in 2020.

Gray didn’t immediately respond to a Colorado Sun request for comment on Wednesday.

Jesse Paul

The Colorado Sun — Desk: 720-432-2229 Jesse Paul is a political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is...