Chain | Cohn | Stiles Provides Insight On Impaired Driving Crimes In Kern County Following Tragic Fatal DUI Crash

December 15, 2021 | 6:00 am


A walk home after school turned into tragedy when an impaired driver took the lives of a 19-year-old and 10-year-old brother and sister.

Lisa Core was arrested on second-degree murder charges when she jumped the curb while allegedly under the influence and ran over the siblings on the sidewalk. She had been arrested several times before for driving impaired, according to media reports.

JJ Malone, 19, and 10-year-old sister Caylee Brown died in the crash. JJ had just met Caylee at the school bus drop-off when Core’s sedan veered across the eastbound lanes of Panama Lane, jumped the curb, and mowed them down on the sidewalk.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles representatives joined the Bakersfield and Kern County communities in mourning the deaths, and in admonishing the DUI driver and ongoing the DUI problem locally. Attorney Matt Clark appeared on several local news media outlets to discuss the criminal and potential civil case, sentencing guidelines for DUI crimes in California, and impaired driving epidemic in Kern County. Clark is a board member for the local chapter of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and is a recipient of the “Pursuit of Justice” award by MADD California.

Law firm marketing director Jorge Barrientos joined Spanish language news media as well — Barrientos is also a board member for the MADD Kern County Advisory Board and is the planning committee chairman for the annual “Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash,” the local chapter’s annual fundraiser of which Chain | Cohn | Stiles is presenting sponsor. Barrientos is also the 2015 “Volunteer of the Year” for MADD California.

Clark shared with local media the following statistics and information about impaired driving crimes locally:

  • “There is only one other county in the United States where you are statistically more likely to be killed by a drunk or impaired driver than you are in Kern County,” Clark told 23ABC News. “That is embarrassing. That is a disgusting statistic.”
  • “When it comes to a death in a drunk driving case or in this instance, a drugged driving case, you can actually charge someone with murder,” Clark told 23ABC News. “We’re one of the rare states where you can do that. That law actually originated out of Kern County.”
  • The penalties can vary for DUI. At a minimum, DUI offender who causes a death and is charged with negligent-vehicular-manslaughter while intoxicated, can face up to a year in jail and a maximum of $1,000 dollars in fines. A conviction of second-degree murder can result in 15 years to life in prison.
  • Clark told local media even with a misdemeanor, “slap on the wrist” may not solve the issue. “In our community, what you typically see happen in a DUI of a misdemeanor case the person receives a minimal sentence, and on that first DUI, it means they are certainly not going to do any jail time, they’re going to pay a fine, they’re going to be placed on probation, their license is likely suspended. The second and third DUI are more severe. But none of it is apparently severe enough to change people’s behavior.”
  • Kern County averages 4,000 arrests per year, an astounding number based on our population. Kern County has the second-highest odds in the country for someone to be killed by a drunk driver while on the road.
  • “In the DUI cases that I have been involved in, it is rare that an injury or a death DUI crash occurs that it’s the persons first attempt. It’s almost always the second, third, the fourth, or the fifth,” Clark said.

You can view all the media reports at the links at the bottom of this page.

According to KGET-17 News, Malone’s and Brown’s deaths were Kern County’s 52nd and 53rd pedestrian fatalities in 2021.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Local Police Departments Receive Hundreds of Thousands in Grants to Improve Traffic Safety

October 27, 2021 | 6:00 am


Local police departments have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to improve traffic safety in Bakersfield and Kern County.

The Bakersfield Police Department received two grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety totaling $433,000 — the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program grant for $400,000, and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Program grant for $33,000. Specifically, the grant money will be used for DUI checkpoints, enforcement operations, community presentations, and much more.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is highlighting the specific traffic safety programs you’ll likely be seeing locally in the coming year.

  • DUI checkpoints and patrols specifically focused on suspected impaired drivers. Our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office – nearly 12 DUI arrests per day. Kern County ranks worst in the state for DUI crashes resulting in injuries, and second most in the United States. And during this pandemic, fatal crash rates have spiked, with speeding, lower seatbelt use, and impaired driving to blame.
  • Enforcement operations focused on top violations that cause crashes: speeding, failure to yield, stop sign and/or red-light running, and improper turning or lane changes. The number of people killed by drivers running red lights has hit a 10-year high, according to a study by Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA). Nearly 1,000 people were killed in a year, according to the most recent statistics available — that’s a 30 percent increase from 10 years ago.
  • Enforcement operations focused on suspected distracted drivers in violation of California’s hands-free cell phone law. Each year more than 400,000 people are injured and more than 3,000 people are killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers, making up nearly 10% of all fatal crashes, according to the latest figures from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In California, nearly 20,000 crashes took place that involved distracted driving, which resulted in more than 100 deaths and 13,500 injuries, according to CHP.
  • Bicycle and pedestrian safety enforcement operations focused on driver behaviors that put vulnerable road users at risk. A new nationwide study that lists Bakersfield as the No. 2 most dangerous metropolitan area in the United States to be a pedestrian. The “Dangerous by Design” study by Smart Growth America analyzed government data from 2010 to 2019 to create a Pedestrian Danger Index. In that time period, 260 pedestrians died in Bakersfield.
  • Community education presentations on traffic safety issues such as distracted driving, DUI, speeding, and bicycle and pedestrian safety. The increase also comes at a time of another sobering statistic: From 2016 through 2018 in California, more cyclists died in traffic accidents across the state than during any three-year period in the past 25 years, according to California Healthline. Surging popularity of bike shares and fitness cycling are part of the reasons.

Meanwhile in northern Kern County, the Delano Police Department also received a grant to combat dangerous and illegal driving behavior. Delano Police received $50,000 from the California Road Safety Authority for DUI checkpoints, patrols catch drivers who violate California’s hands-free mobile phone law, bicycle and pedestrian safety, community education presentations on road safety issues, and officer training or recertification. These efforts will continue through September 2022.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at chainlaw.com.

MADD Kern County to host 8th annual ‘Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash’, presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles

August 25, 2021 | 3:18 pm


For the eighth year, Kern County will come together on Saturday, Sept. 25, in the fight against impaired driving to proclaim, “No More Victims!”

Bakersfield’s Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash — presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles — is Kern County’s chance to do something about drunk and drugged driving in our community. In what has become one of the largest fundraising walks and runs in town, the event brings together people from our community – surviving victims of crashes, families and friends of injured and deceased victims, law enforcement, prosecutors, first responders, advocates, and community leaders and members – to march, rally and run for the cause.

Learn why local residents are participating in the “Why We Walk” video series at bit.ly/whywewalk2021.

Our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office – nearly 12 DUI arrests per day. Kern County ranks worst in the state for DUI crashes resulting in injuries, and second most in the United States. And during this pandemic, fatal crash rates have spiked, with speeding, lower seatbelt use, and impaired driving to blame.

“Impaired driving continues to be one of the leading causes of fatalities and injuries on our roadways, with devastating consequences for all involved, especially innocent bystanders,” said Carla Pearson, MADD Kern County’s victim services specialist. “Let’s all remember and remind our loved ones that these crashes are 100% preventable.”

Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash has three main components:

  • Remember: We walk for those who no longer can and alongside those who are learning to walk again.
  • Inspire: We walk empowered even when we feel powerless, as survivors when we have been victimized, and with purpose when we have lost our way.
  • Commit: We walk with supporters who share our vision of No More Victims.

At the state level, the MADD Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving calls for high-visibility law enforcement, ignition interlocks or “in-car breathalyzers” for all convicted drunk drivers, and support for the development of advanced technology.

Funds raised in Kern County’s event funds local educational programs and prevention services, raises awareness of the DUI problem in our local communities, and provides support to local victims and survivors of impaired driving crashes.

Presented by the local law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, it’s also supported this year by Chevron, Valley Strong Credit Union, Kern County Prosecutors Association, Sally Herald Accountancy Inc., and others. Since the first Bakersfield Walk Like MADD in 2014, thousands of local residents have made their voices heard while raising more than $400,000 for MADD Kern County.

  • When: 7-10am on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021
  • Where: Park at River Walk in Bakersfield
  • Packet Pick-Up: 3-7pm on Thursday, Sept. 23, at Action Sports (9500 Brimhall Road, #400)
  • Register / Information: walklikemadd.org/bakersfield

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Chain | Cohn | Stiles for many years has partnered with MADD Kern County to combat DUI crashes. Attorney Matt Clark sits on the MADD Kern County Advisory Board and regularly speaks to DUI offenders during the MADD Victim Impact Panels, and law firm marketing director is the planning committee chairman for the annual. Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash. For its work has been recognized and honored on several occasions:

  • MADD Kern County honored Chain | Cohn | Stiles with a “Community Champion” award during the 2018 Kern County MADD Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognition luncheon ceremony for the law firm’s work toward raising awareness locally and helping victims.
  • The law firm was also nominated in the “Corporation of the Year” category for a 2018 Beautiful Bakersfield Award, which recognizes a company whose volunteer hours and/or financial donations have made a meaningful difference.
  • Jorge Barrientos, director of marketing and public relations for Chain | Cohn | Stiles, was awarded California’s “Volunteer of the Year” award by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, California, at the “Celebrating California’s Heroes” law enforcement and community recognition event in Sacramento.
  • Matt Clark received the “Pursuit of Justice Award” during Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s 2019 “Tie One On for Safety” Gala Awards. The event annually recognizes supporters of MADD Southern California – the regional area for MADD Kern County – which also includes Los Angeles and San Diego chapters.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at chainlaw.com.

Bakersfield drivers ranked 3rd worst in America due to accident rates, DUIs, speeding

July 28, 2021 | 5:00 am


Have you been cut-off while driving recently, or seen someone run a red light, text while behind the steering wheel, or drive way over the speed limit? If you’re in Bakersfield and answered “yes”, you’re not alone.

Based on accident rates, speeding tickets, DUIs, and citations, Bakersfield ranks third in the nation for bad driver quality, according to a new study by QuoteWizard. That is, Bakersfield ranks third for having the worst drivers in America.

The analysts at QuoteWizard each year review 2 million car insurance quotes from drivers in America’s 70 largest cities to determine which cities have the worst drivers in America, and which have the best. The cities are then evaluated on four factors to determine overall driver quality. Here’s how Bakersfield stacked against those factors:

  • Accidents: Bakersfield ranked 11th worst
  • Speeding Tickets: Bakersfield ranked 18th worst
  • DUIs: Bakersfield ranked 3rd worst
  • Citations: Bakersfield ranked 12th worst

Omaha ranked the overall worst, while Riverside ranked 2nd worst. QuoteWizard highlighted a pattern among the cities with the worst drivers. Each of the five worst driving cities also had high numbers of DUIs, while cities that ranked as the five best all had low numbers of speeding tickets and citations. On the opposite end, Birmingham, St. Louis, and Little Rock were ranked at the top, respectively, for having the best drivers in the nation.

Bakersfield appears to be getting worse. The city ranked 13th worst in the 2020 analysis.

“It’s simple: Slow down, always drive sober, and share the road with other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians,” said David Cohn, managing partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “Taking these steps are the best ways to make sure that you, and everyone else, make it home safely.”

Last year, WalletHub named California the fourth worst state to drive in the United States based on 31 factors including cost of ownership and maintenance, traffic and infrastructure, safety, and access to vehicles and maintenance. California was found to have the highest percentage of rush hour traffic congestion, the second highest average gas prices, and the fifth highest car theft rate, according to WalletHub.

Insurance experts say the saturation of bad drivers on roadways has the ability to affect how much you pay for car insurance each month. Living in one of the worst driving cities can see your insurance rates go up, while living in one of the best driving cities can help you save money on your auto insurance.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles provides a few driving tips below to help you eliminate distracted driving, reduce traffic violations, and keep Kern County roadways as safe as possible:

  • Keep your cell phone on silent, and put in a place where you won’t be able to access it while driving.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and what other drivers around you are doing.
  • If you’re too tired to drive, find a place to stop so you can get rest before driving again.
  • If you need to eat and drink, make sure that you pull over to the side of the road.
  • Make sure that loose items in your car are secured so that they don’t startle you if they fall.
  • Never drive a vehicle if you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Make sure that you have a driver who has not consumed alcohol, or use a service like Lyft or Uber who will be able to take you back to your home safely.

Lastly, if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, follow these three steps:

1) Obtain the name, address, insurance information, vehicle identification number (VIN) and driver’s license number of any and all persons involved in the accident, as well as the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all witnesses.

2) Make sure that a report is filed with the police, sheriff, or highway patrol, but do not talk to anyone else, especially insurance adjusters, about the accident or sign anything without first consulting an attorney. Chain | Cohn | Stiles offers a free consultation.

3) Seek medical attention immediately and explain to your physician or surgeon all of the symptoms and complaints you have been feeling since the accident occurred.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at chainlaw.com.

MADD Kern County honors locals fighting against DUI crimes in ceremony sponsored by Chain | Cohn | Stiles

July 7, 2021 | 5:00 am


Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Kern County recognized and honored our local law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and other community members for their valiant efforts in helping stop DUI crimes during the 2021 MADD Kern County Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognition — sponsored by Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

The virtual ceremony was held June 24 and featured local law enforcement leaders, guest speakers, and award-winners. In all, more than 30 officers, personnel from the Kern County District Attorney’s Office, and others from local agencies were awarded, which included “Prosecutor of the Year,” “Top Cop,” and “Community Champion.”

“During the pandemic, our country saw an overall increase in fatality rates on our roadways despite fewer vehicles being on our roads. This was due to an increase in risky and impaired driving,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County. “Even during these trying times, our local officers continued to fight to keep our streets safe. For this, we are thankful and we honor these individuals.”

The top awards were as follows:

  • Prosecutor of the Year: Deputy District Attorney Michelle Domino (Kern County District Attorney’s Office)
  • Top Bakersfield Police Department Officer: Officer Andrew Shive with 94 DUI arrests in 2020
  • Top California Highway Patrol Officer: Officer Dallas Plotner with 100 DUI arrests in 2020
  • ‘Top Cop’: Officer Dallas Plotner (CHP – Bakersfield) with 100 DUI arrests in 2020
  • Community Champion: 23ABC News

Watch the full virtual awards ceremony by clicking here

On average, our community sees at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office – that’s more than 11 DUI arrests per day. For the rate of DUI-related fatal collisions per 100,000 people, Kern County ranks highest in the state and second highest in the nation, national statistics show.

The awards ceremony is organized by MADD Kern County volunteers, and made possible by the financial support of local sponsors: Chain | Cohn | Stiles, Chevron, and Sally Herald Accountancy. Funds raised assist MADD Kern County with educational programs and victim services.

The awards ceremony is one of two MADD Kern County signature events aimed to bring awareness of the DUI epidemic in our community, and fight toward ending DUI crimes locally. The 2021 Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash — presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles — will take place in person this year on Saturday, Sept. 25, at Park at River Walk. The event aims to raise awareness of the DUI problem locally, raise funds for MADD Kern County’s educational programs and victim services, and supports local victims of drunk and drugged driving crashes.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Family of fatal New Year’s Eve crash victim, Chain | Cohn | Stiles speak about dangers of impaired driving

February 23, 2021 | 4:04 pm


The year 2020 is a year many of us are glad is in the past, but for the families of three young people who died in a New Year’s Eve crash, they would give anything to go back in time. And one of those local families is hoping their kind of loss is the last in our community.

The family of Andrew Ortiz – mother Sasha McKeen, stepfather Steven McKeen, and father Michael Ortiz – recently spoke with Jeff Platt at KBAK-29 Eyewitness News about the crash, their son, and the dangers of driving under the influence and unbuckled. They were joined also by Matt Clark, accident and injury attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Adam Teasdale, 21, was charged with three counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and one count of DUI causing bodily injury for the crash at Brimhall Road and Jewetta Avenue in northwest Bakersfield that killed Timothy Michael Wilson, Devin Lee Atha and Andrew Nicholas Ortiz, all 20. A fourth passenger suffered minor injuries.

Police said they believe Teasdale was driving about 60 mph when he swerved and lost control. The car went onto the raised concrete median and slammed into a tree, according to reports. The three people in the back were thrown through the window.

Police found “whip-it” canisters of nitrous oxide — which provide a brief high by inhaling the gas — and a bottle of consumed Fireball Whiskey at the crash scene, according to the media reports. A nitrous oxide canister was also found in one of Teasdale’s pockets.

“I just killed my friends,” he said, according to a witness who lives near where the crash. “Why did I swerve.”

Teasdale refused to take any field sobriety tests at the scene, according to media reports, and would only consent to a blood draw if he was arrested. One officer stated that Teasdale “displayed sings of being under the influence of alcohol.” He also said the devil was inside him.

Teasdale is being held on $1 million bail and is due in court March 26. He has pleaded not guilty.

“You may be lucky 99 times out of 100, but that last time your luck may run out,” Michael Ortiz, father of Andrew Ortiz, said in a statement. “I’m heartbroken by this tragedy. I hope someone will learn from it, and make a good decision to not drive impaired.”

Following the fatal crash, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County also shared with media other dangers and consequences of impaired driving, including hefty fines, court costs, attorney’s fees and suspension of a license. It’s much cheaper, and safer, to call an Uber or Lyft for a ride home.

“No one has to get behind the wheel if they have been drinking or impaired by drugs, it is that simple,” said Michael Yraceburn, board member for the MADD Kern County Advisory Board.

Since 2009, our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office – nearly 12 DUI arrests per day. Kern County ranks worst in the state for DUI crashes resulting in injuries, and second most in the United States.

“We suffer a lot here in Kern County, Bakersfield area from the tragic loss of impaired driving,” Yraceburn said. “Protect yourself and protect those that you love.”

Chain | Cohn | Stiles for many years has partnered with MADD Kern County to combat DUI crashes. Since the law firm’s involvement with the first Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash, MADD Kern County has raised nearly $400,000 to help local victims of impaired driving crashes. For its work, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been recognized and honored on several occasions, including receiving a “Community Champion” award and “Pursuit of Justice” award, among others.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Bakersfield 2020 virtual ‘Walk Like MADD’ – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – aims to raise funds to combat impaired driving during pandemic

September 9, 2020 | 11:16 am


To register for the 2020 Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash, click here.

Like many nonprofits, MADD Kern County has severely been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, losing a large percentage of funding intended to fight against impaired driving in our community.

In fact, MADD California has lost over 80% of annual revenue, forcing drastic cuts that continue to disrupt grassroots programs and services, officials said. Meanwhile, impaired driving, unfortunately, continues to be one of the leading causes of fatalities and injuries on our roadways.

In a unifying event, MADD California is hosting a virtual Walk Like MADD this year, under the hashtag #OneMADDCalifornia, in an effort to continue fighting to end this 100% preventable crime. In Kern County, the 7th annual Bakersfield virtual “Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash” – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – will be held on Oct. 10, and is aimed to raise funds for Kern County’s local educational programs and prevention services, raise awareness of the DUI problem in our local communities, and provide support to local victims and survivors of drunken driving crashes.

“Now more than ever, our community needs to come together in the fight against impaired driving,” said David Cohn, managing partner at attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “The pandemic has not put a stop to DUI crashes in Kern County, and victims still need help. Join us, surviving victims of DUI crashes, families and friends of deceased victims, local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, first responders, advocates, and other community leaders and members to march, rally and run for the cause.”

 

VIRTUAL ‘WALK LIKE MADD’

Since 2009, our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, with 4,300 DUI arrests in 2018, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. That’s more than 11 DUI arrests per day. About 15 DUI drivers are on the road at any given moment, with a peak between midnight and 3 a.m., where there are nearly 80 DUI drivers in Kern County. Sadly, many impaired drivers weren’t stopped in time, and instead caused major damage to innocent lives through DUI crashes. In fact, for the rate of DUI-related fatal collisions per 100,000 people, Kern County ranks highest in the state and second highest in the nation.

Bakersfield’s Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash is our community’s chance to do something about impaired driving in our community, and proclaim, “No More Victims.” You can help by signing up for the 5K (walk or run), or as a team captain. You can even get involved if you aren’t able to attend by signing up as a “virtual walker,” or by asking a donation toward a participant or team who has been affected. All funds raised from this event stay in Kern County.

MADD California will host a weeklong impactful event from Oct. 3-10 streamed on each Walk Like MADD website and at @MADDCalifornia YouTube, Instagram and Facebook pages. Live and pre-recorded videos will highlight stories from our families on “Why I Walk,” activities will include a mediation/yoga segment, bingo, and Law Enforcement Challenge, and speakers that are key stakeholders in our communities will be featured.

Registration is now open. After Sept. 10 the registration fee is $25 for adults and $20 for youth. The registration fee will go towards your participation, team fundraising goal, and a goodie bag that includes a MADD mask. A packet pick up drive thru will be held on Saturday, Oct. 3, at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, 1731 Chester Ave. (Time location is TBD).

For more information, to register and to donate, go to walklikemadd.org/bakersfield, or on Facebook at Bakersfield Virtual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash.

 

PRESENTED BY CHAIN | COHN | STILES

Chain | Cohn | Stiles for many years has partnered with MADD Kern County to combat DUI crashes, serving as a presenting sponsor. Since the law firm’s involvement with the first Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash, MADD Kern County has raised nearly $400,000 to help local victims of impaired driving crashes. For its work, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been recognized and honored on several occasions:

  • MADD Kern County honored Chain | Cohn | Stiles with a “Community Champion” award during the Kern County MADD Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognition luncheon ceremony for the law firm’s work toward raising awareness locally and helping victims.
  • Attorney Matt Clark has been awarded the MADD “Pursuit of Justice” award. Clark is a founding board member and organizer for MADD Kern County’s Advisory Board and event planning committees, regularly speaks at local Victim Impact Panels intended to prevent repeat DUI offenses, and has done pro-bono legal work for victims of DUI crashes.
  • Jorge Barrientos, director of marketing and public relations for Chain | Cohn | Stiles, has been awarded California’s “Volunteer of the Year” award by MADD California.
  • The law firm was also nominated in the “Corporation of the Year” category for a Beautiful Bakersfield Award, which recognizes a company whose volunteer hours and/or financial donations have made a meaningful difference.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

MADD Kern County awards ceremony, sponsored by Chain | Cohn | Stiles, honors locals fighting against DUI crimes

August 19, 2020 | 5:00 am


Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Kern County recently recognized and honored our local law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and other community members for their valiant efforts in helping stop DUI crimes during the past year. Chain | Cohn | Stiles was proud to be a key organizer, sponsor, and supporter of this event.

The 2020 MADD Kern County Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognition was held July 30 during an online ceremony featuring guest speakers and award-winners. In all, more than 60 officers, personnel from the Kern County Prosecutor’s Office and others from throughout local agencies were awarded. Awards were also handed out to the investigator of the year, victim advocate, top probation officer, top law enforcement officers, and “Community Champion.”

“It’s important that we honor the people who are helping keep our streets safe from impaired drivers,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County. “These impaired drivers have shown to cause tremendous damage to our local community. It’s possible these award-winners have saved the lives of our own friends and family members who are driving on the same roadways.”

Watch the full virtual awards ceremony by clicking here.

Since 2009, our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, with nearly 4,200 DUI arrests in 2019, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. That’s more than 11 DUI arrests per day. For the rate of DUI-related fatal collisions per 100,000 people, Kern County ranks highest in the state and second highest in the nation.

The awards ceremony is organized by MADD Kern County volunteers, and made possible by the financial support of local sponsors: Clinica Sierra Vista, Kern County Prosecutors Association, Chain | Cohn | Stiles, and various media supporters. Additionally, everyone is encouraged to take the “$5 Challenge” to donate to MADD Kern County. All funds raised stay in Kern County to help innocent victims of DUI crashes free of charge, help raise awareness of the DUI epidemic in our community, and helps fund other MADD Kern County programs.

MADD is celebrating its 40th year with #OneMADDCalifornia, a tribute to the grassroots organization that started the cultural revolution that made drunk and drugged driving unacceptable.

“We ask that you take a stand with #OneMADDCalifornia to envision a future with No More Victims,” MADD California officials said in a statement. “Each arrest is a life saved and MADD awards our officers’ service as they dedicate their own lives to keeping our roads safe.”

Drunk and drugged driving is America’s deadliest crime. In 2018, 10,511 people were killed in impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (29%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. More than 1,000 Californians alone lost their lives due to this 100% preventable crime.

The awards ceremony is one of two MADD Kern County signature events aimed to bring awareness of the DUI epidemic in our community, and fight toward ending DUI crimes locally. The second event is the Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash, taking place virtually this year on Saturday, Oct. 10.

 

DRIVER SOBER

The high-visibility national enforcement campaign, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” runs from Aug. 21 through Sept. 7 (Labor Day) in an effort to spread the word about impaired driving dangers and to work together to get drunk drivers off the roads and help save lives.

During this period, local law enforcement will show zero tolerance for impaired driving as departments increase the amount of officers on ours roads. In Bakersfield, officers will be conducting saturation patrols, looking for drivers who are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, driving aggressively or distracted, and making sure drivers are properly licensed.

“Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” is supported by California Office of Traffic Safety and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney awarded MADD Southern California ‘Pursuit of Justice Award’

November 27, 2019 | 6:00 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles senior partner and attorney Matt Clark was the recent recipient of the “Pursuit of Justice Award” by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Southern California. Below is the press release announcing the award. 

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Two Bakersfield-based institutions received awards during Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s 2019 “Tie One On for Safety” Gala Awards Nov. 21 in Long Beach.

The “Pursuit of Justice Award” was given to attorney Matthew C. Clark of Chain | Cohn | Stiles, and the Chevron’s San Joaquin Valley Business Unit (SJVBU) received the “Corporate Champion Award.” The event annually recognizes supporters of MADD Southern California – the regional area for MADD Kern County – which also includes Los Angeles and San Diego chapters.

The awards gala also kicks off the “Tie One On for Safety” campaign during the holiday season, which is MADD’s longest running and most visible public awareness project combating impaired driving. MADD’s mission is to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support victims of these violent crimes, and prevent underage drinking.

“These two award recipients are community heroes who are dedicated to combating our area’s DUI epidemic,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County. “Simply, they are saving lives.”

Each year in Kern County, dozens of innocent lives are lost – plus hundreds more injured and thousands of friends and families affected – from this 100 percent preventable crime. Kern County is averaging nearly 12 DUI arrests per day. Kern County ranks worst in the state for DUI crashes resulting in injuries, and second most in the United States.

MADD Kern County hosts two local events, which are primarily volunteer-led. They include the Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognitions Awards luncheon and the “Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash.” The Kern County chapter also hosts Victim Impact Panels to prevent repeat DUI offenses, and presents educational program at local schools, and more.

The award winners are helping combat Kern County’s DUI problem, raising awareness, and helping victims locally in a variety of ways.

  • Matt Clark, Chain | Cohn | Stiles: Clark is a founding board member and organizer for MADD Kern County’s Advisory Board and event planning committees, regularly speaks at local Victim Impact Panels intended to prevent repeat DUI offenses, and has done pro-bono legal work for victims of DUI crashes. He is a senior partner and attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, which annually serves as the presenting sponsor for the annual “Walk Like MADD” fundraising event. In addition, Jorge Barrientos, marketing director at the law firm, is also a past recipient of the “Volunteer of the Year” award for MADD California.
  • Chevron’s San Joaquin Valley Business Unit (SJVBU): Chevron’s SJVBU, whose main office is in Bakersfield, has been an annual sponsor, and its employees are key organizers, in the local “Walk Like MADD” event, as well as MADD Kern County’s Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognitions Awards luncheon, which honors locals for their valiant efforts in helping stop DUI crimes. The company communicates to its employees – who log thousands of miles each year on Kern County roads – through safety campaigns, including DUI-education efforts.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of an impaired driver, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Teen drivers, school buses the focus of safety awareness weeks

October 23, 2019 | 11:11 am


Our children’s safety can be one of the most important focuses in our lives, which makes two national observances this week especially vital. This week in the United States we are observing “School Bus Safety Week” and “Teen Driver Safety Week.”

Learn safety tips, statistics, and other important information about these observances below.

“Our children’s safety is a top concern always,” said David Cohn, managing partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “Let’s all remember this week, and moving forward, to be extra careful around school buses, talk to teens about safe driving habits, and follow our laws always.”

 

Teen Driver Safety Week

This week and beyond, parents should speak with their teen children about how to stay as safe as possible behind the wheel. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are the leading causes of death for teens (15 to 18 years old) in the United States, ahead of all other types of injuries, diseases, or violent acts. Teens are also 10 times more likely to be in a fatal car accident than adults.

In particular, there are six dangers that are especially important for teens to understand: alcohol, inconsistent or no seat belt use, distracted and drowsy driving, speeding, and number of passengers. Learn more about them below, courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

  • Alcohol and Drugs: All teens are too young to legally buy, possess, or consume alcohol.  However, nationally in 2017, 15% of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had alcohol in their system. But alcohol isn’t the only substance that can keep teens from driving safely.  According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.5% of adolescents 12 to 17 years old reported using marijuana. Like other drugs, marijuana affects a driver’s ability to react to their surroundings. Remind teens that driving under the influence of any impairing substance could have deadly consequences.
  • Seat Belts: Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest ways for teens to stay safe in a vehicle. A total of 539 passengers died in passenger vehicles driven by teen drivers and more than half (60%) of those passengers who died were NOT buckled up at the time of the fatal crash. Even more troubling, in 87% of cases when the teen driver was unbuckled, the passengers were also unbuckled. The chances of surviving a traffic crash are 45% higher when properly restrained in a seat belt.
  • Distracted Driving: Distractions while driving are more than just risky—they can be deadly. In 2017, among teen drivers involved in fatal crashes, 9 percent were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. The use of mobile devices while driving is a big problem, but there are other causes of teen distracted driving which pose dangers as well. They include adjusting the radio, applying makeup, eating or drinking, or distractions from other passengers in the vehicle.
  • Speeding: In 2017, almost one-quarter (27%) of all teen passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash, and males were more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than females.
  • Passengers: Teen drivers transporting passengers can lead to disastrous results.  Research shows the risk of a fatal crash goes up in direct relation to the number of passengers in a car. The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behavior triples when traveling with multiple passengers.
  • Drowsy Driving: Teens are busier than ever: studying, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, and spending time with friends are among the long list of things they do to fill their time. However, with all of these activities, teens tend to compromise something very important—sleep. This is a dangerous habit that can lead to drowsy driving or falling asleep at the wheel.

 

School Bus Safety Week

Every school day in this country, 25 million children ride in a bus. The good news: School buses are among the safest modes of transportation. In fact, students are 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking a bus instead of traveling by car, according to NHTSA. Why? They’re designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in preventing crashes and injuries.

But it’s not inside of the bus we should be most concerned about in terms of safety, but what happens outside. The real risks is in walking to the bus stop, and getting on and off the bus.

Here are some tips to keep students safe, as well as those walking and driving around school buses.

Tips for Drivers

  • Watch out for children walking or bicycling to school when backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage.
  • Be on the lookout when driving through neighborhoods. Drive slowly and watch for children walking in the street.
  • Learn the school bus laws in California.
    • Yellow flashing lights indicate that a bus is preparing to stop to pick up or drop off children. Drivers should slow down and prepare to stop.
    • Red flashing lights and an extended stop-arm signal indicate that the bus has stopped and that children are getting on or off. Cars must stop a safe distance away and not start again until the red lights stop flashing, the stop sign has been folded back, and the bus begins to continue on its way.

Tips for Students

  • Be at the bus stop at least 5 minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
  • Stand at least 6 feet away from the curb when the bus approaches, and keep the line away from the street.
  • Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says it’s okay to step onto the bus.
  • Remain visible to the bus driver at all times.
  • Never walk behind the bus. You should always make sure that you’re in the driver’s line of sight.
  • Use the handrails to avoid falling.
  • If seat belts are available on the bus, buckle up.
  • Don’t speak loudly or make loud noises that could distract the driver.
  • Stay in your seat.
  • Don’t put your head, arms, or hands out the window.
  • Keep the aisle clear of books, bags, and other objects.
  • Wait for the bus to stop completely before getting up from your seat.
  • If you have to cross in front of the bus after you get off, first walk at least 10 feet ahead until you can see the driver.
  • When the driver signals, look left, right, then left again. Walk across the road and keep an eye out for sudden traffic changes.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.