San Mateo County has many wonderful cities: Burlingame, Redwood City, Menlo Park, Brisbane, Half Moon Bay, Woodside, Foster City, the City of San Mateo, Pacifica, San Bruno, San Carlos, South San Francisco, Millbrae, and Hillsborough are just some of them.

San Mateo County handles DUI cases in its own fashion.  California has 58 different counties.  Each county has its own way of implementing DUI laws and each judge has his/her unique way of interpreting them.   Over time, patterns emerge as to how a particular county and its judges handle DUI cases.   Some counties are more punishment oriented.  Others are more treatment focused. Others are simply mavericks, destined to be unrepentantly different.  That billing fits San Mateo County, the most independently different county for criminal law and DUIs in particular in the Bay Area.

San Mateo County has only two courthouses; each is brimming with cases of every type.  DUI cases can take far longer from start to finish in San Mateo County than elsewhere in the Bay Area.  Due to its limited courthouse space, judges are often compelled to set cases three to four months into the future for the next court date, pretrial conference, following the “arraignment,” the first court date.

Its criminal court judges span the ideological spectrum from extremely conservative to very liberal.  The county sets up the judicial rotation in such a fashion that it is impossible to predict which judge will ultimately handle the “arraignment”, first court appearance, as well as any subsequent appearances for any motions and “pretrial conference” or even a jury trial.  In contrast, other counties have a simple rule that the case from its inception to end remains in the same department and thus with the same judge. But not in San Mateo County.

San Mateo County judges have a steadfast policy of only “one pretrial” conference, meaning that a criminal case such as a DUI will be reviewed and discussed only once by a judge unless some extraordinary new and previously unknown information arises.  This again is in stark contrast with other counties who allow multiple “pretrial conferences” and thus “forum shopping”, meaning that if an attorney does not like the offer that one judge made, the attorney can try to have another judge discuss the case to try to undercut the first judge’s offer.

In terms of punishment for DUIs, San Mateo County would rank in the midrange portion of severity of sentences.  San Mateo courts have been in the past extremely punitive and probably the most punitive for second and third DUIs. However, now the judges are receptive to treatment instead of punishment. San Mateo judges look favorably upon individuals who seek treatment and typically reward those persons who genuinely have sought help.  The judges are quite procedurally inclined, meaning that as part of their sentences, they routinely impose conditions that include a defendant needing to provide proof that he/she has enrolled in a DUI class.  San Mateo County judges are so demanding of persons to adhere to their requirement for proof of DUI enrollment and completion that they issue bench warrants for arrest if a person fails to provide by a certain date his/her proof of enrollment and completion.  Many other counties do not engage in such scrutiny.

Occasionally out of town, non San Mateo based attorneys, claim that they are treated differently by the courts than local attorneys. These complaints refer to a concept of “home towning,” a claim made by attorneys who do not routinely practice in a county that they are treated differently/less fairly than those attorneys who do practice regularly in that county. After practicing in San Mateo County for many years, I feel that these complaints stem from some out of town attorneys’ frustration with the local procedures that San Mateo Courts follow that are different from the ones that the out of town attorneys are accustomed to follow rather than any judge’s improper treatment of an out of town attorney. Knowledge of local practices and rules is another reason why a person accused of a DUI in San Mateo County should contact an attorney like Mark Blair who is intimately familiar with local practices and rules and who can use these differences to get the best possible outcome in a San Mateo County case.

Attorney Mark Blair has routinely practiced in San Mateo County for many years and has successfully handled hundreds and hundreds of DUI cases in San Mateo County.  Mark knows how to work the San Mateo County system to your advantage.  To get the best result for your San Mateo County DUI case, please contact Attorney Mark Blair for a free, confidential and informative consultation at (650) 344-4343.

DISCLAIMER: The results of any person’s DUI case described on this web site and/or in the Bay Area DUI Law newsletter depend on factual and legal circumstances that are unique to a specific person. Information provided by this web site and/or the Bay Area DUI Law newsletter does NOT constitute a guarantee, warranty or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. Any reference to laws, procedures, punishment or license consequences at court or the DMV in this web site and/or Bay Area DUI Law newsletter is NOT intended to be complete description of what can and will happen in any or every DUI case but instead is a simplified summary to facilitate the reader’s understanding of general issues involving DUI law. The law is in constant change; penalties and consequences change; as such, the reader should not and cannot rely upon anything mentioned in this web site and/or Bay Area DUI Law newsletter. The reader is strongly advised to seek competent legal counsel to ascertain the law, penalties and consequences that apply to his/her unique circumstances.