How Does San Mateo County in Northern California Differ from Other California Counties Reading DUI Charges?
Interviewer: Today we’re going to be talking about San Mateo County. Give us an overview on this county and how it differentiates itself from the other counties regarding DUI charges?
Aaron Bortel: Let’s talk about San Mateo County in regards to DUI cases. San Mateo County used to have more courthouses. They had South San Francisco, which was the northern courthouse and they had Redwood City, the southern courthouse. In July 2013, they began sending all DUIs to the Redwood City courthouse.
Because of Budget Cuts, San Mateo County Consolidated Courthouses That Hear DUI Cases
With felony DUIs, the preliminary hearings will be heard in the South San Francisco courthouse, but other than that if they go to jury trial they end up in Redwood City. Basically, all misdemeanor DUIs in San Mateo County are now held in Redwood City from beginning to end, from arraignment to pre-trial conferences, motions, hearings and trials and then if there any probation violations, they are all heard in Redwood City.
Because of budget cuts this has completely changed the timeframe on these DUI cases, especially the ones that are from Northern San Mateo. They still have a case number and is a northern number. There is a northern and southern numbers. With the northern cases, say you are arrested today and a month from now you’re cited to be in court.
Because Only One Courthouse Hears DUI Cases, the Timeframe for Trying Cases Has Increased
You show up for court or your attorney can show up for you and enter a plea of not guilty. If it’s a northern case, you’re going to wait about five or six months until you get to go back to court and have a conference with the judge and the prosecutor. In the meantime, your attorney can still defend your case and bring motions.
In most cases what I’m doing is discovery requests. This includes obtaining records on machines, records on the blood testing, video, audio, interviewing witnesses, doing whatever it takes to try and win a case or get charges reduced. But it’s going to take quite a long time.
The Amount of Cases the Redwood City Area Handles Makes It Time Consuming to Obtain Discovery Needed to Defend DUI Charges
It’s made it very difficult on attorneys who deal with these cases because we need to also fight your case at DMV. DMV is trying to rush us through these cases. It’s putting a lot of pressure on attorneys to try and speed up the DA’s office in getting us this discovery. For whatever reason it seems like the DA’s office in Redwood City has really slowed down in getting us necessary items like video.
I’ve found myself very recently having to call, go down there, and send reminders. Eventually what we need to do is file a formal discovery request and get a judge to pressure them to get us the things that they should just be getting us. This is all because of overcrowding and it’s really turned into a messy situation.
A southern county, such as southern San Mateo, DUI cases are heard a little quicker. We get to our pre-trial conference usual within about two to three months. I’m sure eventually that will change and it will all just take forever.
Oftentimes when you have a DUI in San Mateo County they don’t file the case by the arraignment date, which is the first court date. So what will happen is your lawyer will go in and find out it’s not filed yet.
By Aaron Bortel
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