Paula Lopez, 50, former longtime KEYT/KCOY news anchor, agreed to serve jail time and meet an array of probation requirements in a plea deal for her September DUI and battery case. She faces 120 days in jail and three years probation at her July 22 sentencing, where she will plead “no contest.”
On the night of September 8, Lopez was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and assaulting an officer after drivers reported seeing a silver Toyota Prius traveling the wrong way on Highway 101 near El Capitan Road in Goleta. CHP and Sheriff’s deputies arrested Lopez soon after in the parking lot of the Sandpiper Golf Course, where she kicked two CHP officers while resisting arrest.
The long-postponed case garnered much attention because of Lopez’s status as a local personality and because she is married to retired Judge Frank Ochoa. The plea deal included three charges on top of the misdemeanor DUI — delaying an officer, battery on an officer, and one special allegation of refusing to take a chemical test. Two charges — driving with a blood alcohol content higher than .08 and a second county of battery — were dismissed by the District Attorney’s Office.
According to statements prosecuting Deputy District Attorney Megan Chanda has made to local media, Lopez must attend three Alcoholics Anonymous meetings per week, finish DUI school, give up her drivers’ license for a set period of time, stay in therapy, take the alcoholism medication Antabuse, and not drink alcohol as terms of her probation.
Represented by defense attorney Steven Andrade, Lopez has not appeared in court since the case began eight months ago. Due to potential conflict of interest, the case was first assigned to North County Chief Deputy District Attorney John Savrnoch. Upon Savrnoch’s recent promotion away from the DA’s Lompoc Office, Chanda was assigned to the case.