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Cat Cora Cited for DUI

Police Say She Was Returning from Cold Spring Tavern After Fight with Partner


Originally published 6:41 p.m., July 9, 2012
Updated 10:30 a.m., July 10, 2012

UPDATE: Through her publicist, Cat Cora issued this statement Tuesday morning: “I deeply regret my decision to drive that evening after my designated driver became unavailable. I learned a very important lesson from this experience and take full accountability for my actions. This will never happen again.”

ORIGINAL REPORT: Celebrity chef and Santa Barbara resident Cat Cora was cited June 17 for driving under the influence after she caused a minor traffic accident on upper State Street. Her arraignment is scheduled for July 26.

According to SBPD spokesperson Sgt. Riley Harwood, Cora rear-ended another vehicle at 6:15 p.m. at the intersection of State and La Cumbre streets. The car in front of her, a 2001 BMW 325i, had stopped at the crosswalk limit line when Cora, in a 2007 Chevy Tahoe, bumped it from behind at a low speed. The BMW’s male driver told responding officers he thought Cora was intoxicated. No one was hurt in the accident.

Cat Cora at the 2010 Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman (file)

Cat Cora at the 2010 Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Officers on the scene, said Harwood, conducted field sobriety tests and determined Cora, 45, showed signs of inebriation. She said she had consumed three bottles of beer at Cold Spring Tavern and was on her way home. Cora also told officers that she and her partner had been arguing earlier in the evening, said Harwood.

Cora provided two breath samples at the scene which registered her blood alcohol level at 0.20 and 0.19, and a blood sample taken soon after at nearby Goleta Valley Hospital registered a BAC of 0.19. Harwood said Cora was issued an arrest citation and transported to the Sobering Center on East Haley Street.

Cora’s publicist and her defense attorney didn’t immediately return requests for comment. The SBPD’s press release that detailed her arrest, part of a general roundup that described DUI-related incidents in the city from the past three weeks, was sent at 5:15 p.m. on Monday. Santa Barbara District Attorney Joyce Dudley said Cora is charged with one DUI count and one count of driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher.

Cora is best known for her featured role as an iron chef on Iron Chef America. She also cohosts Around the World in 80 Plates and has authored three cooking books.

[EDITOR’S NOTE]: There was initial confusion Monday night over whether Cat Cora was cited or arrested for her alleged DUI. Harwood clarified Tuesday morning that, in DUI cases like these, the department uses those terms interchangeably because a suspect is both arrested and issued a citation.