What Not To Do In 2022: Traffic Safety Changes On California’s Roadways In The New Year

December 29, 2021 | 11:02 am


Watch what you do in 2022 … on our roadways, that is.

For the New Year, several new laws will affect roadway safety, including new penalties for street racing “sideshows”, changes in speed limit rules, license points for distracted drivers, rules for riding an equestrian animal on paved roads, and the extension of cocktails to go. The laws are relevant for the Law Offices of Chain | Cohn | Stiles, as the attorneys focus on accident and injury case, including motor vehicle accident cases. Learn more about the new laws below:

 

‘SIDESHOW’ STREET RACING PENALTIES (AB 3)

Assembly Bill 3 is designed to curb illegal street racing locally and statewide. The bill, which was authored by Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield) applies penalties used against illegal speed racing and implement them against exhibitions of speed as well. Such exhibitions include the burning out of tires, revving of engines, performing stunts, and other activity intended for an audience or “sideshow” that ultimately leads to a speed contest. Specifically, the vehicle code will define “sideshow” as an “event in which two or more persons block or impede traffic on a highway for the purpose of performing motor vehicle stunts, motor vehicle speed contests, motor vehicle exhibitions of speed, or reckless driving for spectators.

The bill passed with “overwhelming bipartisan support,” The Bakersfield Californian reported.

“I authored this bill in response to what our local law enforcement officials have conveyed as a troubling and problematic trend in our neighborhoods,” Fong said in the statement. “We need to increase the penalties for illegal street racing activities to send a message that this activity will not be tolerated.”

As for penalties, courts will be permitted to suspend a driver’s license between 90 days and six months. (effective July 1, 2025). The courts will be required to consider a defendant’s medical, personal, or family hardship that requires a person to have a driver’s license before determining whether to suspend a person’s driver’s license.

The issue hits close to home for Chain | Cohn | Stiles, which is representing one of the children who suffered major injuries in that November 2019 crash that killed 58-year-old Maria Blaney Navarro. And attorney Matt Clark has been featured in local news interviews on the issue.

 

DISTRACTED DRIVER POINTS (AB 47)

Assembly Bill 47 states that a driver convicted of using a mobile phone without a hands-free device for a second time within a 36-month period will have a point added to his or her license. The first violation is currently punishable by a fine. This applies to the violations of talking or texting while driving, except for hands-free use, and to any use of these devices while driving by a person under 18 years of age.

 

SPEED LIMITS (AB 43)

Assembly Bill 43 authorizes local authorities to reduce speed limits to protect the safety of vulnerable groups such as pedestrians and cyclists. This law gives California cities more control to set speeds based on safety. Currently, the state largely has authority over speed limits and sets them based on the movement speed of 85% of traffic on any given street. AB 43 would allow cities to reduce speeds by increments of 5 mph by letting local officials factor the safety of pedestrians and cyclists when conducting the speed traffic surveys California uses to determine streets’ speed limits. The bill requires that cities take into account the presence of vulnerable groups, including children, seniors, the unhoused and persons with disabilities when setting speed limits, and would permit cities to reduce speed limits on streets with a track record of traffic safety issues, including school zones, according to Natural Resources Defense Council.

 

HELMETS AND EQUESTRIAN ANIMALS (AB 974)

Assembly Bill 974 requires anyone under 18 years old who rides an equestrian animal — horses, mules and donkeys — on a paved highway to “wear a properly fitted and fastened helmet.” The legislation is intended to enforce the same requirements for youths who ride bikes, non-motorized scooters, skateboards, in-line and roller skates. The new law also requires a person of any age to wear reflective gear or a lamp while riding equestrian animals after dark on paved highways. Fines for first-time violators are $25 per infraction. However, anyone using an equestrian animal in a parade or festival is exempt from the helmet and gear provisions, according to the legislation.

 

VEHICLES ON RESERVATIONS (AB 798)

Assembly Bill 798 removes restrictions previously imposed on federally recognized Native American tribes operating emergency vehicles on their reservations. There are 109 designated tribes statewide, one of which is in Kern County (Tejon Indian Tribe). The bill specifically permits all the tribes to acquire and deploy ambulances, as well as firefighting and other emergency vehicles, without the state requiring that the vehicles be inspected by the CHP, and without those individuals who may legally operate them having to go through the Department of Motor Vehicles for special licenses. Previously, the state treated tribal emergency vehicles the same as privately operated ones, mandating rigorous inspection and licensing. However, the legislation recognized that the tribes are sovereign and self-governing, and that imposing a lengthy approval process was unjustified.

 

COCKTAILS TO-GO (SB 389)

Senate Bill 389 allows restaurants to continue selling cocktails and wine to go until Dec. 31, 2026. However, the delivery of cocktails ended Dec. 31, 2021. To-go alcohol began after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of course, never take a sip while in your vehicle. Please, always drive sober!

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New year, new laws for California drivers, bicyclist, scooter riders

January 2, 2019 | 11:10 am


As usual, the New Year brings about new laws to California. And for 2019, several new laws involve measures that affect most of us in the state: driving safety, civil rights, sexual harassment in the workplace, and more. Here are short descriptions of some of these new laws, many of which are a focus for us at Chain | Cohn | Stiles:

 

TRAFFIC SAFETY

DUI Devices (SB 1046): Drivers who have been convicted of two DUIs will have to install breathalyzers, or ignition interlock devices, in order to start their vehicles. This allows drivers to keep their driving privileges instead of having their licenses suspended. Industry experts say ignition interlocks show a 74 percent reduction in repeat DUIs.

Motor Scooters (AB 2989): Helmets are no longer required for motorized scooter riders over 18 or older. Motorized scooters are also allowed on Class IV and Class II bike paths. It is still illegal to ride a motorized scooter on a sidewalk. The law also allows scooters to ride on roads with speed limits up to 35 mph. Learn more about scooter safety by clicking here.

Bike Hit & Run (AB 1755): Hit-and-run laws will be expanded to include bicyclists on bike paths. That means, if a bicyclist hits a person, resulting in a death or injury, the bicyclist must stay at the scene. The bicyclist can be held accountable, CHP said. Learn more about bicycle safety here.

Helmet Safety (AB 3077): Anyone younger than 18 not wearing a helmet on a bicycle, scooter, skateboard or skates will be issued a “fix-it” citation. If the minor can show they took a bicycle safety course and has a helmet that meets safety standards within 120 days, the citation will be non-punishable.

Loud Vehicles (AB 1824): Drivers in a vehicle or motorcycle with an excessively loud exhaust will be fined. Previously, they would have been cited with a “fix-it” ticket.

 

CIVIL RIGHTS & POLICE TRANSPARENCY

Body Cameras (AB 748): Requires that body camera footage be released within 45 days of a police shooting, or when an officer’s use of force causes death or great bodily harm.

Police Records (SB 1421): Allows public access to police records in use-of-force cases, as well as investigations that confirmed on-the-job dishonesty or sexual misconduct.

 

EMPLOYMENT LAW & SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Reporting Harassment (AB 2770): Protects employees who report sexual harassment allegations without malice from liability for defamation of the people they accuse. Also, allows employers to indicate during reference checks whether an individual has been determined to have engaged in sexual harassment.

Nondisclosure (SB 820): Bans nondisclosure agreements in sexual harassment, assault and discrimination cases that were signed on or after Jan. 1, 2019.

Settlement Agreements (AB 3109): The law invalidates any provision in a contract or settlement agreement that waives a person’s right to testify in an administrative, legislative or judicial proceeding concerning alleged criminal conduct or sexual harassment.

Harassment Protections (SB 224): Expands employee harassment protections to include those who are not only employers but who could help establish a business, service or professional relationship. This could include doctors, lawyers, landlords, elected officials and more.

Burden of Proof (SB 1300): Expands liability under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, or FEHA. It lowers the burden of proof to establish harassment and provides stricter guidance on what is or isn’t unlawful harassment. It also expands protections from harassment by contractors, rather than just sexual harassment. Defendants can’t be awarded attorney’s costs unless the action was frivolous. It prohibits release of claims under FEHA in exchange for a raise, a bonus or as a condition of employment or continued employment.

Harassment Training (SB 1343): Requires employers with five or more employees to provide two hours of sexual harassment prevention to all supervisory employees and at least one hour of sexual harassment training to nonsupervisory employees by Jan. 1, 2020. Training should take place every two years after that. Employers also need to make the training available in multiple languages.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident in an accident at the fault of a DUI driver, sexually assaulted, or had their civil rights violated, please contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles partners with Bike Bakersfield to give away hundreds of bicycle lights, safety helmets this fall

October 18, 2017 | 9:26 am


At least 30 pedestrians and bicyclists in Kern County have lost their lives in roadway accidents in 2017. Many of them were not properly illuminated during night hours.

As part of its mission to reduce the number of accidents in our community, Bike Bakersfield – in partnership with Chain | Cohn | Stiles and Kern Family Health Care – will be giving away hundreds of free bicycle lights and over 100 safety helmets throughout Kern County over several weeks starting this Thursday, Oct. 19.

“Project Light Up The Night” is Bike Bakersfield’s annual program that delivers sets of free bicycle lights in parts of our community where bicycles are used the most – Oildale, Arvin, east Bakersfield, and southeast Bakersfield. This year, free safety helmets of all sizes will also be provided thanks to support from the law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Bike Bakersfield staff and volunteers will install lights for immediate use, and educate bicyclists on how to properly fit and adjust helmets. One set of lights and one helmet will be given per person with his or her bicycle present.

“Many cyclists still ride at night without lights, a practice that is illegal and life-threatening. And with the sun setting early this time of year, it is important that bicyclists be visible on the roadway,” said Jack Becker, Bike Bakersfield program manager. “Being visible to motorists is a key part of staying safe while riding a bicycle on the road, and these bright LED lights will let drivers know you’re there.”

For Chain | Cohn | Stiles, which often sees victims of vehicle versus bicycle accidents, providing safety equipment to children and adult bike riders who otherwise cannot afford one is just one key step toward improving safety on our roadways. The law firm for several years now has partnered with Bike Bakersfield in its “Kidical Mass” bike repair, safety demonstration, a group bike ride program, as well as the safety light and helmet giveaway.

“We hope these programs led by Bike Bakersfield not only helps raise awareness of the importance of bicycle safety and sharing the road with all vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists, but also will help decrease the number of injuries caused by crashes here in Kern County,” said David Cohn, managing partner and veteran personal injury attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

If you are a bicycle rider in need of a bicycle light or safety helmet, please take note of the following details to collect yours:

  • WHAT: Bike Bakersfield’s “Project Light Up The Night”
  • WHO: All residents who arrive with a bicycle are eligible for free lights and a helmet
  • WHEN: From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays (Oct. 19, Oct. 26, Nov. 2 and Nov. 9)
  • WHERE: Four locations: Corner of Roberts Lane and N. Chester Avenue in Oildale; Niles Street and Mount Vernon Avenue in east Bakersfield; Planz Park in south Bakersfield; and Bike Arvin in Arvin. Click here to view a map for locations.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles partners with Bike Bakersfield, Children First Campaign in bike safety event for kids

August 25, 2015 | 11:21 am


With school back in session for students throughout Kern County, the roads are busy with buses picking up and dropping off kids at school, parents dropping off their children, and students walking to campuses. Many students also ride their bikes to school.

With so much activity on Bakersfield and Kern County roadways, it’s important for everyone to share the road and be cautious of others.

In an effort to keep the roadways as safe as possible for students who happen to cycle to school, the Bakersfield personal injury and workers’ compensation* law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles has partnered with local nonprofits Bike Bakersfield and Children First Campaign to host a “Kidical Mass” event from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Aug. 29, at Williams Elementary School, 1201 Williams St. in east Bakersfield.

The event will feature bike repairs, safety demonstrations, a group bike ride and a barbecue lunch. Chain | Cohn | Stiles has also donated 100 safety helmets for students and bike riders who may be in need of the safety equipment.

Many of the students who attend Williams Elementary and area Bakersfield City School District schools in east Bakersfield come from low-income households, and may not be able to purchase proper safety equipment, including helmets, said Jorge Barrientos, director of marketing and public relations at Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

“There are too many accidents in our community that involve bicycles,” Barrientos said. “Hopefully this event with help raise awareness to help better protect our students, and keep them safe.”

KBAK-KBFX Eyewitness News previewed the event during its morning shows recently, which included representatives from Bike Bakersfield, Children First Campaign and attorney Matthew Clark of Chain | Cohn | Stiles. To see the complete coverage of the news preview, including photos and videos of the segment, click on the Little John Photo blog here.

Kidical Mass, first held in 2008 in Eugene, Oregon, is a safe and fun bike ride for kids, kids at heart, and their families. Bike Bakersfield, whose mission it is to promote bicycling as a safe, fun and environmentally-friendly means of everyday transportation, decided to host its very own Kidical Mass to help improve the biking experience in our local communities, said Bike Bakersfield executive director Jason Cater. This year’s Kidical Mass is also focused on teaching children safe riding habits while having fun on their bikes.

Also joining Bike Bakersfield is the Children First Campaign, which aims to ensure all children live in healthy, safe, and nurturing neighborhoods that promote academic achievement and success, and to counter the negative influences of drugs, crime, violence and poverty.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ attorneys, along with Bike Bakersfield and Children First Campaign representatives, will be on the Williams Elementary campus teaching students proper safety rules and protocols. The event is free and open to the public. Students in need of bike tune-ups, safety equipment and safety lessons are encouraged to attend.

For more bike and school safety tips and information, please read previous chainlawblog.com blog posts below:

— By Jessica Magee for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles gave out 100 bike helmets to children in east Bakersfield on Aug. 29. Each child was fitted properly for his and her helmet, and given a safety lesson on the rules of the road. To see photos and news videos of the event, click the links below.

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If you or someone you know is injured in a bicycle accident, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000 or visit the website chainlaw.com.