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Jensen Buchanan’s Probation-Violation Hearing in Injury-DUI Case Delayed Until March 2

A Santa Barbara County Superior Court hearing on whether Jensen Buchanan violated her probation by drinking alcohol has been rescheduled for March 2, and the veteran soap opera actress must remain in jail until then.

After Judge James Voysey met with attorneys in chambers twice on Wednesday, he announced they decided against starting the hearing and agreed to move it to another day.

“It’s better for the court to hear all the evidence at the same time so I can evaluate the experts,” Voysey said.

Buchanan, 54, was re-arrested earlier this month after the electronic monitor she was wearing detected she had consumed alcohol, an allegation her defense attorneys denied.

She had been released from jail Nov. 28 after serving less than two months of her year-long sentence for pleading guilty to drunken driving and causing a head-on crash that caused great bodily injury in May 2016, on Highway 154.

An Arizona man, Bradley Asolas, was critically injured in the crash, and spent more than 30 days in Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital recovering from a lengthy list of injuries that have left him unable to work.

After the 6:20 a.m. collision, authorities said Buchanan was driving with a blood-alcohol content of 0.34 percent. Any BAC over 0.08 percent is considered drunken driving under California law.

It’s not unusual for non-violent offenders to be released early to serve their time at home due to overcrowded conditions at the county jail.

On Wednesday, Deputy District Attorney Jon Kawashima noted his expert from Alcohol Monitoring Systems in Colorado had traveled to Santa Maria for the hearing to testify about results of the electronic monitoring device Buchanan wore.

The judge encourged the attorneys to submit information ahead of March 2 so he could prepare for the hearing.

“This is all new science, not only to me but to the entire court system,” Voysey said. 

He noted the decision he makes at the end of the hearing will have serious consequences.

“I want to do this right, and I want to have all the information I can possibly have,” he added.

At the start of the hearing, defense attorney Josh Lynn noted his renewed request for Buchanan’s release from jail — and the judge’s denial based on the talks in chambers. 

In addition to the year in jail, Buchanan’s original sentence called for five years of felony probation, with the judge suspending a 6-year prison term.

However, Voysey warned Buchanan he would impose the prison term if she violated probation.

The District Attorney’s Office had lobbied for a sentence that included prison time. 

In the new allegation, probation officers allege the device registered alcohol use between Dec. 29 and Jan. 11, with a peak reading of 0.18.

Her attorney suggested her device malfunctioned, with Lynn noting odd readings and contending they have another test and witnesses to prove Buchanan did not drink alcohol during the time period alleged by the device.

This is isn’t the first time Buchanan faced a hearing involving her device. In April, a different judge ruled Buchanan did not tamper with the device, saying it apparently was not functioning for some time after it became loose on Buchanan’s ankle.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully 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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