News

Repeat DUI driver pleads not guilty in Menlo case

Atherton woman out on bail

An Atherton woman charged with six counts of felony drunken driving posted higher bail on Tuesday, and is once again out of custody.

A San Mateo County Superior Court judge had raised Margaret Brill's bail by $100,000 at the prosecution's request, according to the district attorney's office.

The 62-year-old woman allegedly careened down Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park on Dec. 7, 2010, her car striking at least four vehicles and injuring two people, according to police. Three bystanders helped the injured and took Brill's keys away, keeping her on the scene.

She has two previous DUI convictions, and was arrested again two days after the Dec. 7 incident for allegedly being drunk in public at an Atherton train station, police said.

Brill pleaded not guilty in court on Tuesday, and Judge Lisa Novak scheduled trial for Oct. 31.

— Sandy Brundage

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by RT
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 14, 2011 at 9:33 am

I am avoiding Menlo Park/Atherton until this lady is locked up.


Like this comment
Posted by citizen
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 14, 2011 at 10:12 am

they should put her in an electronic anklelet, when she moves it beeps, take her car, cancel her insurance, make her walk !!


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Posted by Oct 31?
a resident of Meadow Park
on Apr 14, 2011 at 10:12 am

Trial not until October 31? Why so long? Sounds like a public hazard until then. Does anyone else agree?


Like this comment
Posted by Deborah
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 14, 2011 at 10:24 am

How many more people does she have to hurt before our judicial system wakes up? She has done this six times and is still free as a bird. I agree with Citizen - take her car away. But what would stop her from renting a car. This woman is dangerous not only to others but to herself.


Like this comment
Posted by KT
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 14, 2011 at 10:39 am

Sounds like this woman needs an intervention and some rehabilitation, ASAP!!! Why would anyone bail her out when she is this out of control???


Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 14, 2011 at 11:13 am

Get her now, no matter how much money, or how good a lawyer she has, this person has real problems and if she gets off yet another time is going to eventually be in jail for killing someone. We read about this over and over how they let these people go. What happened to our country being a country of laws, not "people"?


Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 14, 2011 at 11:31 am

This woman needs to be locked away for a long time. I certainly hope the sentence for another conviction is for 5+ years in jail. Her driving privileges should have been taken away after the second DUI. Why does the system seem to wait until there is a fatal accident before coming down on these multiple DUI offenders???


Like this comment
Posted by Paul
a resident of University South
on Apr 14, 2011 at 11:43 am

I don't care if she is locked up or not. I just want to make sure that she is not driving! Whatever that takes.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 14, 2011 at 12:33 pm

If she is not locked up she will not stop driving or learn.


Like this comment
Posted by stretch
a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2011 at 2:04 pm

In Sweden, they would throw her in jail for 6 months and take her car away. It wouldn't matter whether she was from Atherton or East Palo Alto. How many more incidents will happen before she even gets to court? Ridiculous!


Like this comment
Posted by Dan
a resident of Southgate
on Apr 14, 2011 at 2:46 pm

In California, 3rd DUI is punishable by 120 days to 1 year in jail. Not sure if that applies to those with expensive lawyers. She apparently has a good one, as evidenced by 10 months of continuances (so far)and being able to post $100k bond immediately.


Like this comment
Posted by p.a. citizen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 14, 2011 at 3:02 pm

This woman, and others like her, should be required to have a device installed that requires breathing into a tube, and a 0% alcohol reading, before the car will start. This should be installed in all her cars at her expense. She's going to kill someone if allowed to continue.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 14, 2011 at 3:49 pm

stretch, another thing it is my understanding they do in Sweden is to make fines progressive ... ie. they charge millionaires and billionaires traffic fines commensurate with their incomes because otherwise the fine does not serve as a deterrent for bad behavior it it is not of significant cost to change behavior.

The US is really becoming distorted and stratified by class to an unacceptable extent - and that needs to somehow get reversed.


Like this comment
Posted by mugshot
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 14, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Please post a mugshot and description of her car so we can be on the look out.


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Posted by Dan
a resident of Southgate
on Apr 14, 2011 at 4:36 pm

This woman has shown absolutely zero remorse. She could have killed someone. She should get the max.


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Posted by Member
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 14, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Not even rehabilitation? At minimum she should be forced to enter a rehab program, thereby keeping her off the streets while getting her help. It is too frightening and a shame to think she is allowed to go just like that, smh.


Like this comment
Posted by marilyn
a resident of Meadow Park
on Apr 14, 2011 at 6:02 pm

This womans husband is a lawyer, no wonder she is out on bail! The lawyer husband scratched someones back to get his wife out on bail. The judicial system is a farce, we are not safe as long as this drunkard is out on the streets. THROW THE BOOK AT HER PLEASE! Brill deserves maximum sentencing. Next time she drives drunk she will probably kill someone. This story horrifies me.


Like this comment
Posted by marilyn
a resident of Meadow Park
on Apr 14, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Google her people.....she lives in ATHERTON....husband is an attorney. Like i said earlier..there is no justice for the innocent victims this drunkard injured. Sickens me.


Like this comment
Posted by Train Neighbor
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 14, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Her photo is posted online here: Web Link

I hope a relative can take her keys away.


Like this comment
Posted by denny
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 14, 2011 at 7:13 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 14, 2011 at 7:58 pm

The above link also has a photo of her little Mercedes, with the license plate censored. Wow, I wonder what their insurance bill is. Do DUIs get into the assigned risk pool, and we make it up in our own insurance rates?


Like this comment
Posted by Carlito Waysman
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 14, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Now Mr. Joe Simithian, listen to us and listen real good: This is a justified case for "there ought to be a law".

If you really want to start tackling down issues that really matter to the citizens of California.

For DUI offenders= 2 strikes and you are OUT, revoke driving privileges in California for life.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 14, 2011 at 11:37 pm

The police blotter is full of daily entries for driving with suspended license or driving with no license (politically incorrect to say "undocumented driving"). Revoking driving privileges is no complete solution, and it's impractical to put everyone in jail for life. At least this lady has someone who should be putting her under house arrest.


Like this comment
Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 15, 2011 at 6:59 am

I actually knew an Atherton resident, a very wealthy man, who was an alcoholic with numerous DUI incidents. He was very well connected, so he always managed to keep himself out of jail and managed not to lose his driving privileges. Fortunately, after he feting caught DUI for the umpteen time, his family intervened and forced him into rehab and into surrendering his drivers license. Miraculously, he hadn't killed anyone before he stopped driving. This woman seems to be an even worst case, since she feels no remorse and is enabled by her lawyer husband.


Like this comment
Posted by Gillian
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 15, 2011 at 7:05 am

I was on Santa Cruz Ave when the incident occured. Its a miracle no one was killed by this woman. My kids were with me at the time, going for icecream. How do you explain to your children who were scared by seeing what happened, that this crazy drunk woman is not in jail? Someone has dropped the ball by not putting her in jail.


Like this comment
Posted by melli
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2011 at 7:07 am

Someone will die. It won't be the drunk maniac. Then it will be too late, and all of the shouldas, couldas, wouldas, will come out in force. It will be too late. This is so ludicrous.


Like this comment
Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 15, 2011 at 7:23 am

Miraculously, this woman hasn't killed anyone yet. It does however underline the fact that the US is an oligarchy in which the wealthy don't pay for their crimes, don't go to jail and game the system. Not even one Wall Street high roller who caused the financial meltdown and near economic depression has even been charged, let alone gone to jail. Can anyone imagine a poor non-white person getting away with so many DUI incidents?


Like this comment
Posted by Maya
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 15, 2011 at 7:29 am

This is like letting a lunatic run around town with a loaded gun. I pray for the good people of Menlo Park, that they make it home alive after grocery shopping....


Like this comment
Posted by Steve C
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 15, 2011 at 8:30 am

Wondering if this woman was drinking alone at home before driving through town, or was she out somewhere, and then was attempting to drive home? If she was at a bar or with friends somewhere, then there are others who allowed her to become this intoxicated, and then drive. Not trying to pass the buck here, but establishments, and friends, who fail to shut off inebriated customers have some liability here as well.
Either way, I would say her luck has run out. She will definitely be sentenced at the very least to long-term rehab this time around. Too many will be watching for the outcome of this case for the system to sweep this one under the rug. Even so, the long-term outlook for this woman is doubtful. Addiction is extremely difficult to overcome, even with a tremendous support system.


Like this comment
Posted by Ruthven
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 15, 2011 at 9:20 am

Since moving to the states from Europe, ive seen so many of these sad cases of the judicial system turning a blind eye. The system doesnt work in America, where I come from, this woman wouls have been inprisoned years ago for repeatedly offending. Why do we want to wait until October to convict? She may kill someone driving drynk before then! This is an appaling case. Just because her husband is a lawyer and paid high bail, were supposed to turn a blind eye? I think not, come October we can all cheer the judge on to throw her behind bars once and for all!


Like this comment
Posted by Another "Accident Waiting to Happen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2011 at 11:47 am

This woman is obviously an alcoholic in severe need of rehab which I hope she is getting. Her disease is a fatal and progressive one and I hope that the fatality is not some poor innocent who just happens to be in the line of fire of her constantly loaded weapon (her car). It is unconscionable that our judicial system would allow her to be out on bail for all of these months regardless of her economic status or her husband's profession. I hope that she has no access to a motor vehicle in the upcoming months. I hope most that she can get herself sober and get a life. She could help others with such a story of a life that has been unmanageable because of her use of alcohol. I would hope that her husband would do the right thing and not enable her to continue going out doing the same thing. The next time somebody could die and I hope it's not a poor innocent. There is help for Margaret. Please seek out AA or any rehab program for help.


Like this comment
Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 15, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Beyond this particular case, it's astonishing to realize how different DUI is treated in the US vs. other countries. In many countries a first DUI means an automatic suspension of driving privileges for months, heavy fines and a mandatory requirement to enroll in a quite expensive driving school and an eventual new driving test. An additional DUI charge usually means the lose of driving privileges for years, sometime permanently, and very serious criminal charges. We are just absurdly lenient toward DUI here.


Like this comment
Posted by jpam
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 15, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Our legal system is not fair, it is based on brible, i.e. bail and allows the wealthy to avoid responsibility for their crimes by posting a higher bail and then not ever taking responsibility for their actions. Isn't it especially telling that she was arrested just two days later for being intoxicated? She should be in long term rehab. How sad that she can buy her way out of this. She is an extreme danger to herself and the community. I knew her at one time also, and never suspected that she had this problem.


Like this comment
Posted by Model Behavior
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 15, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Teens - whose involvement with drinking & driving is consistently exaggerated - are watching and absorbing what's happening here.

How do we expect our youth to get the "right message" and make the right choices about drinking and driving when we adults don't hold our peers to the same expectations? Luckily, the vast majority of teens DO make the safer decision (to not drink and drive). But our safety message is weakened and their respect for us is lost when we fail to hold our own accountable.

This woman needs medical attention for her alcohol problem - and unless she gets it, our community is at serious risk. The inevitable law suit could never recover what's at risk for being lost here. I implore her family to do what is necessary and intervene - on her behalf and ours. She's a danger to herself and others. Please.


Like this comment
Posted by .08 or over
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2011 at 1:05 am

Alcohol is NOT a good thing, certainly for driving, but many other "errors' are due to intoxication. The person should have a high fine and then the police should determine the need for jail or not.


Like this comment
Posted by Kane
chief photographer of the Palo Alto Weekly
on Apr 21, 2011 at 8:46 pm

She is clearly a danger to society, and will continue to hurt people.


Like this comment
Posted by Kane
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 21, 2011 at 8:54 pm

What? Chief photographer???? I am confused...


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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