010518 SYVHS cannabis 02.jpg

Mark Swanitz, principal of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, talks about marijuana and students after the cannabis law changes.

Len Wood, Staff

The misdemeanor DUI case involving a Santa Ynez Valley High School principal is scheduled to return to court Feb. 6, when attorneys will either set a trial date, settle the case or postpone it again. 

Mark Evan Swanitz, 51, faces two misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence, and driving with a blood alcohol content over the legal limit of 0.08 percent. The Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office filed charges against Swanitz in November following an Oct. 21 incident, where Swanitz was involved in a car crash on Highway 246. 

According to the California Highway Patrol, the incident occurred at about 4:20 p.m. when Swanitz was in his 2004 Chevrolet, traveling westbound on Highway 246 before an oncoming driver, Rafael Ramos, 45, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, turned directly in front of Swanitz.

Ramos had reportedly stopped his 2017 Hyundai facing a northerly direction in a driveway west of Skytt Mesa Drive and began to slowly accelerate and turn left, according to the CHP.

Ramos reportedly failed to see Swanitz's vehicle approaching on his left side and made an unsafe turn directly into the path of the Chevrolet, causing a collision, CHP said. During the investigation, the CHP learned that Swanitz was under the influence of alcohol and he was subsequently arrested and booked into County Jail.

Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210

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