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Local News

Paula Lopez Given Jail Time in Goleta DUI Case Plea Deal

Former Santa Barbara TV news anchor will be sentenced to 120 days behind bars, 3 years on probation

Attorneys reached a plea deal in the DUI case of former television news anchor Paula Lopez Ochoa, who was arrested Sept. 8 in Goleta.
Attorneys reached a plea deal in the DUI case of former television news anchor Paula Lopez Ochoa, who was arrested Sept. 8 in Goleta.  (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk file photo)

A plea deal was reached in the DUI case of former television news anchor Paula Lopez Ochoa, who is scheduled to be sentenced to jail time and probation in July.

Lopez was charged with six misdemeanors related to a Sept. 6-7 driving under the influence incident in Goleta, and attorneys entered the settlement agreement in Santa Barbara Superior Court Friday afternoon.

According to the plea deal, she will plead no contest to driving under the influence and the special allegation of refusing a chemical test; delaying a peace officer; and battery on a peace officer.

The plea deal added an additional charge of delaying a peace officer and removed “resisting or obstructing” from the criminal complaint altogether.

Other charges, including driving with a blood alcohol content over .08 and an additional count of battery, will be dismissed by the District Attorney’s Office.

Lopez will be sentenced July 22 to 120 days in jail and a three-year probation term, with conditions including no alcohol use and attending three Alcoholics Anonymous meetings weekly, said Megan Chanda of the District Attorney’s Office. 

Probation terms also include finishing the nine-month DUI school, continuing her therapy, taking the anti-alcohol drug Antabuse for three years, and not using any alcohol.

Driving-related rules are in place, such as not driving with a suspended license or driving with any measurable alcohol in her system, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Chanda didn’t know if Lopez’ license was suspended after the arrest, saying it was a Department of Motor Vehicles issue.

If probation terms are violated, Lopez could serve up to three years in the County Jail. 

Lopez was represented by defense attorney Steven Andrade and did not have to personally appear in court since it is a misdemeanor case. 

Judge Thomas Anderle has continued the case several times while attorneys worked toward a plea deal.

John Savrnoch, chief deputy district attorney for the South County, was initially assigned to the case to avoid a potential conflict of interest since Lopez is married to retired Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa.

Savrnoch worked out of the Lompoc office, but recently was promoted and now works in Santa Barbara, which is why Chanda was handed the case.

Lopez, a former KEYT and KCOY television news anchor, was arrested Sept. 8 in a Goleta parking lot and charged with six misdemeanors, including driving under the influence; driving with a blood-alcohol content over .15; resisting, obstructing or delaying a peace officer; and two counts of battery on a peace officer.

The California Highway Patrol received a report of a silver Toyota Prius driving the wrong way on northbound Highway 101 near El Capitán State Beach west of Goleta, and found the alleged car in the Sandpiper Golf Club parking lot, where Lopez was evaluated and arrested.

Lopez has spoken publicly about her ongoing battle with alcoholism. She said she was getting medical treatment after a public intoxication arrest in July 2013 and a day-long disappearance earlier that year. 

Noozhawk managing editor 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.

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