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Are There Areas in San Matteo County That Have a High Incidence Rate of DUIs?


Interviewer: Are there certain areas in San Matteo County that you notice where people are apt to receive a DUI?

Aaron Bortel: One of the places where I see a lot of DUI arrests are California Highway Patrol getting people leaving San Francisco and going into San Mateo County. This is because the speed limits change. A popular area is once the motorists pass Candlestick Park and head toward South San Francisco. That’s one of the most popular spots to see DUIs.

Also, they get a lot of people who are drinking in San Francisco and then driving home. Also, a number of DUIs are issued after 49er football games, although that’s going to change with the 49ers moving to Santa Clara County next year.

There are a lot of places in San Mateo County but I would say most of the arrests are on Highway 101 and Highway 280. This is where CHP are patrolling. Most arrests originate from speeding or weaving out of the driving lane.

Those are the most popular reasons for pulling someone over. There are a lot of different local police departments, sheriffs, in the different towns in San Mateo County. We see a lot of DUI arrests in those areas.

Most Motorists Are Arrested by California Highway Patrol, Even If They Initially Were Pulled over by a Local Sheriff’s Unit

What usually happens in the smaller counties, such as San Mateo, Burlingame, and Suma Counties are when a sheriff pulls someone over, they’ll call CHP to do the investigation. California Highway Patrol makes the majority of the arrests.

Other areas we see a lot of DUI arrests is by a casino in the Coma area. Then out in Pacifica, out by the coast, Half Moon Bay, I see a lot more in Pacifica, with people going down the coastal roads. I see accidents there and a lot of arrests in that area.

CHP Has Installed Video Cameras in the Patrol Cars

What’s interesting is most of the CHP has video in their cars and Pacifica PD will have video in their cars. But a lot of the other police departments do not have video. If CHP arrests you it’s good and bad.

Officers in the CHP Receive Extensive Training in the DUI Investigation and Arrest Process

It’s good in that we’ll often have video which can help us with the case. It’s bad because they tend to do a more efficient job on a DUI arrest. They are much better at “crossing their Ts and dotting their Is.” This is because they’re trained, first and foremost, in conducting DUI investigations and arrests. That’s what they’re looking for every time they pull someone over.

Non-CHP officers are not as experienced in filling out all the paperwork and understanding all the DUI technicalities. They haven’t had as much training usually in DUI enforcement as the CHP has. Therefore, they will make mistakes that can often help me get a better result on a client’s case.

Video Can Help Refute an Officer’s Allegations of a Traffic Infraction

But in most cases they do not have video. So it’s their word against my client’s or my clients and whoever was in the car with them as to how my client was driving or how my client did on the field sobriety test. Whereas if we had video, we may be able to see where an officer said that the client drove over the lane line and that’s why they pulled them over. But the client only drove on the line, which may not be a violation of the vehicle code.

Interviewer: Are the penalties any different if it’s a CHP or between any other officer?

Aaron Bortel: Drivers are subject to the same penalties. In some counties there may be a fine that could be a little more expensive depending on the arresting agency. They may require a payment to that arresting agency on top of all the other one fines.

More DUIs Are Issued Following Sporting Events in the San Francisco Area

Interviewer: What are some of the events in San Mateo County that people attend and are then more prone to getting a DUI? Are there any specific annual events? You mentioned 49er games.

Aaron Bortel: We also have the Giants playing in San Francisco on the south side of the city. It’s off the Market and at King Street between Second and Third. A large number of people drive up from San Mateo, and a lot of people take the train to Fourth and Townsend just a block from the stadium. The stadium is also a block from my office in the other direction.

There are many events that happen out on the coast. Out in Half Moon Bay, there is an annual Halloween Pumpkin Festival. A lot of people go out there, but I really don’t see a lot of consistent DUI arrests at certain times of year from certain types of events and festivals in San Mateo County. There are also concert venues in the Santa Clara County that see a lot of traffic.

By Aaron Bortel

Aaron Bortel

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