REDWOOD CITY -- San Mateo County's assistant presiding judge pleaded not guilty Tuesday to misdemeanor drunken driving charges alleging he drove on Highway 101 in late May with a blood alcohol content one and a half times the legal limit.

Judge Joseph Scott, 63, was not present in court Tuesday morning, and entered his plea through his attorney, Richard Keyes. Though the second-highest ranking judge in the county did not appear on his own behalf, he has continued to serve on the bench since his arrest in the same courthouse where the plea was entered.

Scott was arrested May 24 after an officer spotted him swerving on northbound Highway 101, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. The judge was asked to step out of the car near Woodside Road, and the Redwood City police officer reportedly smelled alcohol on his breath.

Scott's breath and blood tests later revealed a blood alcohol content of .12 percent, 50 percent over the legal limit, Wagstaffe said. In lieu of jail, he was taken to sober up at First Chance in Burlingame, a substance abuse program for first-time offenders.

Scott, who has been a San Mateo County judge since 2003, is serving a six-year term that will expire in January 2017, and is scheduled to become presiding judge next year. His attorney could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Scott is scheduled to return to court for a jury trial Oct. 27, and for a pretrial conference Sept. 24. While the judge faces a maximum of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, Wagstaffe said the standard sentence for a first offense is three years of probation, two days of county jail served through a work program and a $1,650 fine.


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Contact Erin Ivie at eivie@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/erin_ivie.