Pixel Tracker

Friday, January 18 , 2019, 7:26 pm | Fair 56º


Judge Dismisses Case Against DUI Defendant Peter Lance

DA's Office says judge 'didn't find any misconduct' on the part of Santa Barbara police, including Officer Kasi Beutel

Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Brian Hill dismissed a widely publicized driving under the influence case Tuesday, ruling that the motorist’s delay after a traffic signal turned green did not provide enough legal basis for a Santa Barbara police officer to pull him over on suspicion of DUI.

Peter Lance, 63, of Santa Barbara, faced a misdemeanor DUI charge after being arrested in the early morning hours of Jan. 1. A freelance writer, Lance then wrote a series of articles for the Santa Barbara News-Press about his arrest and investigation into the credibility of arresting Officer Kasi Beutel.

Since Hill ruled there was no basis to pull Lance over, he granted a motion to suppress all evidence obtained by officers after Lance’s vehicle was stopped. That would include breathalyzer results, which Lance claimed were manipulated by Beutel.

Lance claimed his signature, and those of other DUI defendants, was forged on police report documents, relinquishing his right to have blood samples taken that could be retested later. Beutel and the Santa Barbara Police Department have denied the allegations.

During the pre-trial hearings in court, discussions focused on whether authorities had knowingly destroyed Lance’s original Trombetta waiver — which a suspect signs to waive having a re-testable blood or urine sample taken — and whether Beutel had acted appropriately.

In dismissing the case, according to the District Attorney’s Office, Hill “did not find there was any misconduct on the part of any of the involved officers, including Officer Kasi Beutel or any member of the District Attorney’s Office” and found Officer Bruno Peterson’s decision to stop Lance’s vehicle was “not unreasonable.”

Lance, who said he had been drinking champagne earlier on New Year’s Eve, was stopped at a green light, with his head looking downward toward his lap for three to five seconds, which prompted the officer to pull him over.

The case spurred a community debate on the Police Department’s lack of patrol vehicle video cameras, and a grand jury report later urged the department to install them.

The City Council put off outfitting the police fleet with cameras until the next budget cycle, but one manufacturer has since offered a trial use of its cameras in a handful of cars.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.