The Santa Maria Times reports that a deputy has been accused of felony DUI and pleaded not guilty in his initial court appearance.
44-year-old Javier Jonathan Antunez appeared before a judge wearing a suit and supporting himself on crutches. Judge Gustavo Lavayen agreed to a date of January 6, 2020, for a preliminary hearing in Superior Court’s Department 6.
Antunez is facing charges in connection with a September 14th crash involving three vehicles. The crash took place just east of the Cachuma Lake Recreational Area on Highway 154. Six people were injured, including Antunez himself.
One of the victims injured in the accident was a Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office investigator named Judith Hall. Four other people sustained injuries in the accident.
Antunez is facing several charges. The charges include driving under the influence and causing injury, driving with a blood alcohol content greater than .08% and causing injury, and one habitual offender enhancement.
The case is being prosecuted by the California Attorney General’s Office rather than the District Attorney’s Office.
In California, repeat DUI convictions can escalate penalties. Not only do the jail times increase, but so do the fees, the time on probation, the length that a license is suspended, and eventually a DUI can become a felony. Other things that can affect the severity of a DUI are sentence enhancements, one of which is a repeat offender enhancement. Another enhancement that can increase penalties is if the DUI involves an accident where other people are injured. Depending on the severity of the injuries, this can also make even a first time DUI a felony.