Well known KCOY anchor Paula Lopez’s DUI and assault on an officer case from last Sunday night is expected to be filed in the District Attorney’s Office within two weeks to a month, authorities said Thursday.
On Sunday, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) received reports at about 8 p.m. that a silver Toyota Prius was traveling southbound in northbound Highway 101 traffic lanes. Along with Sheriff’s deputies, CHP officers tracked down the vehicle to the Sandpiper Gold Course parking lot in Goleta, and found the Prius belonged to and was being driven by 50-year-old Lopez, who was under the influence of alcohol, according to the CHP.
Lopez resisted arrest and kicked two officers, according to CHP Officer Jonathan Gutierrez. She was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and assaulting an officer. Lopez did not take a breathalyzer test, Gutierrez said, but her blood was drawn to measure its alcohol content. The CHP will conclude its report in coming weeks. The lab results might not return from the state Department of Justice lab for several months, Gutierrez said, and officers have a full year to file the case with the District Attorney’s Office.
Lopez was booked in County Jail on $5,000 bail, but she was released Monday afternoon on her own recognizance. Undersheriff Barney Melekian said the process by which a person is released without paying bail is determined by a set of criteria, such as whether or not a person is a flight risk or has ties to the community.
When the CHP does file the case, it will be sent to North County DA Office — per instructions from the state Attorney General’s Office — to avoid any potential conflict of interest, District Attorney Joyce Dudley said. Lopez is married to former Judge Frank Ochoa, who stepped down from the bench in January.
Two years ago, Lopez was arrested for public intoxication and was enrolled in the court’s Misdemeanor Diversion Program. She went public about her longtime struggle with alcoholism, and said she had spent several months in treatment. Earlier that year, she mysteriously disappeared and the Sheriff’s Office dispatched a helicopter and K-9 units to search for her. She was eventually found unharmed.
Mark Danielson, general manager of NPG of California, which owns news channels KEYT, KCOY, and KKFX, said he is “aware of the incident on Sunday evening but I am not going to comment on the matter.”