Mom Fights DUI Order Keeping Her Girl Away

     SANTA BARBARA (CN) – A mother appealed a California court order to keep 100 feet away from her 4-year-old daughter for up to three years because she was charged with driving drunk with the girl in the car.
     Jennifer Leilani Darga was arrested in Santa Barbara County on July 16 and charged with driving under the influence and child endangerment.
     The county charged her with a misdemeanor and obtained a protection order preventing her from coming within 100 feet of her child of having any unsupervised visits with her, saying it was reasonable to expect she might continue to drink and drive with the girl in the vehicle.
     Her public defender said in his appeal that “protective orders like the one in this case are issued routinely without good cause or due process of law.”
     The order allows Darga to communicate with her child only via telephone, writing or in supervised visits, and cited concerns that Darga might “intimidate or dissuade” her child from cooperating with investigators, her attorney says.
     The public defender, Raimundo Montes De Oca, says there is no evidence Darga is likely to intimidate or dissuade her child from cooperating, but a protection order cannot be appealed and a writ of mandate is the only way to restore her custody rights to her child.
     Montes De Oca says the court “abused its discretion by subjecting Darga to a criminal protective order it had no discretion to impose.”
     He seeks writ of mandate ordering the protection order terminated.
     Neither Montes De Oca nor representatives for Santa Barbara Superior Court were immediately available for comment Tuesday.

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