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Soap Actress Jensen Buchanan Appears In Santa Maria Court On DUI Case

A Santa Barbara County Superior Court judge could decide next month whether a soap opera actress should spend time in prison for driving while drunk and causing an accident that critically injured another driver.

Jensen Buchanan, 54, appeared in a Santa Maria courtroom Wednesday morning only to have her case continued to April 5.

She faces several charges, including felony driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury, and felony driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or greater. 

She also is charged with causing great bodily injury to Bradley Asolas, 56, of Camarillo, and an allegation her blood-alcohol level exceeded .15 percent.

Court documents allege Buchanan was driving with a blood-alcohol level of .34 — more than four times the level at which a driver is considered drunk under the law — when the crash occurred at about 6:20 a.m. May 18 on Highway 154.

She was driving a Mercedes S550 eastbound on Highway 154 when her vehicle drifted across the double yellow line directly into the path of a westbound Ford C-Max near the Live Oak Camp entrance, according to the California Highway Patrol. 

With both sides far apart on a plea deal, Judge Gustavo Lavayen will review the facts of the case and weigh in on what he thinks would be an appropriate outcome if Buchanan entered a guilty plea to the court.

“It is the people’s position this is a case where the defendant deserves to go to prison based on the egregious facts of the case ... and the ultimate consequences for the victim,” Deputy District Attorney Tiffany Dix said outside the courtroom.

However, the defense team — Josh Lynn, Dmitry Gorin and Meryl Chambers — said Buchanan deserves probation, not prison time.

Jensen Buchanan, seen here at a July 2016 hearing in Santa Maria court, is charged with driving under the influence causing injury. Click to view larger
Jensen Buchanan, seen here at a July 2016 hearing in Santa Maria court, is charged with driving under the influence causing injury.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk file photo)

“We have a lady who has absolutely no criminal history,” Gorin said, adding that Buchanan has done inpatient and outpatient treatment.

A longtime actress on several soap operas, Buchanan has given up that career and intends to become a drug and alcohol counselor, Gorin said. 

“She’s done an exemplary job in treatment. This type of incident will never happen again,” Gorin said. “This is the type of person that’s deserving of a probation sentence.”

At the next hearing, Dix said she intended to address an allegation Buchanan tampered with her electronic alcohol-monitoring device.

However, outside of court Lynn emphatically denied Buchanan tampered with the device.

“That is not just a red herring, that is a damaging thing to say in front of other people without one scintilla of evidence. Nothing. Zero. Zip,” Lynn said. 

If Buchanan does agree to plead guilty, sentencing would be scheduled for a different day so the victim can attend to make a statement.

However, if Buchanan does not enter a plea, the case would move toward setting the date to hold a preliminary hearing.

Buchanan appeared on numerous soap operas over nearly three decades, including appearances most recently on The Young and the Restless in 2015, and previously on One Life to Live and Another World. 

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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