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Woman Who Plowed Through Santa Cruz Has DUI'd Before

San Mateo County court records show two previous DUI arrests for Atherton resident Margaret Brill, who police say injured two people on Dec. 7.

The woman accused of in her car earlier this month, injuring two people, is a serial drunk driver with two prior cases in San Mateo County over the past decade, according to court records.

On Dec. 7, Margaret Brill, 62, of Atherton, pulled her Mercedes too quickly out of a parking space in the lot behind Walgreens on Santa Cruz Avenue, slamming into another vehicle which then hit a third, pinning a man by his legs between them, according to eyewitnesses.

She then fled the scene of that accident, Menlo Park police say, barreling down Santa Cruz Avenue.

"Her engine was racing out of control going 'Vroom! Vroom!' like she was stepping on the gas without it in gear," said Jeff Belton, an eyewitness, on the day of the incident. "Then she took off like a bat out of hell doing 40 to 45 miles per hour, and didn't even try to stop when she turned her wheel onto Santa Cruz."

Eyewitnesses said Brill only stopped fleeing after her car hit a tree and citizens prevented her from leaving. Police took her into custody soon afterward. In all, four cars were damaged and two people injured.

It was not her first brush with the law over drunk driving, according to Menlo Park police and Superior Court records obtained by Patch.

"We've arrested her before, on another case," said Nicole Acker, a spokeswoman for the Menlo Park Police Department.

On July 11, 2006, Brill was stopped at El Camino Real and Spruce Avenue for a traffic violation, Acker said, "and that's where the officer smelled an odor of alcohol." The officer found that Brill "spoke with a slurred speech and had bloodshot eyes," and she was given a field sobriety test, which she failed.

At that time, according to court records, Brill already had prior convictions for drunk driving. One stemmed from an incident on Jan. 15, 2002, when Brill was arrested for drunk driving with a blood alcohol level exceeding .15 – nearly double the legal limit of .08.

In the 2002 case, Brill pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 18 months probation, according to court records. In the 2006 case out of Menlo Park, she was sentenced to 120 days in jail – she spent a third of that time behind bars after the sentencing, due to good behavior and time served – and three years probation.

"Defendant ordered to enroll in and complete the multiple offender program," the court documents state. Brill did complete the program, and met her other obligations as well, according to the records.

So far, Brill has not been charged with a crime in the Dec. 7 incident. County records show she was booked on Dec. 9, with pending charges of disorderly conduct and drunk in public. But a clerk at the county District Attorney's office said because the case is pending and has not been filed, it is not known what charges she will eventually face.

She said Brill has not needed to post bail, since she does not yet face any charges – and the DA has up to a year to file.

"When a case is pending there's no information available," she said. She refused to comment further. No other representative from the DA's office could be reached.

Acker said the Menlo Park police report recommended serious charges be brought against Brill.

"Officer Jeff Keegan, who handled the case and wrote the police report, recommended that the DA prosecute on charges of felony drunk driving with injury, hit-run with injury (and) reckless driving with injury."

She said the case is in the District Attorney's hands now, "so it's up to the DA's office."

Valda Mort July 26, 2011 at 11:39 PM
YAY for the good city of Menlo Park who already has way too many pedestrians. We can't have our Atherton citizens serving JAIL time where they might have to be in - gasp - a jail cell with maybe some poor person! We must protect our rich citizens!!!

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