Bakersfield’s 2018 ‘Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash’ – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – raises over $65,000, brings together 1,000-plus in fight against DUI crimes

October 4, 2018 | 7:42 pm


Kern County came together Saturday morning at the Park at River Walk to support victims of DUI crashes, call for an end of drunk and drugged driving, and raise more than $65,000 in the process.

The fifth annual Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash – presented by the Bakersfield-based accident and injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles – is aimed to raise awareness of the DUI problem in locally, raise funds for MADD Kern County’s educational programs and victim services, and support local victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes. Bringing out nearly 900 walkers and runners for this cause, plus hundreds more in attendance, the event featured a kid’s fun run, 5K and 10K in what has become one of the largest fundraising walking and running events in Kern County, according to Bakersfield Track Club.

The morning featured an opening ceremony with statements from representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, victims of DUI crashes, outgoing Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green, and Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh, among others. It was followed by a kid’s fun run presented by the Bakersfield Active 20-30 Club, timed 5K and 10K runs, with medals awarded in age categories, and a march by victims, their families and supporters from our community.

“This is one day our community can come together to remember those affected by DUI crimes, and advocate for a day with no more victims,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County. “Our aim is to no longer have a day dedicated for this purpose. In the meantime, we hope everyone will dedicate the other 364 days of the year toward making sure they and their loves ones drive safe and sober always.”

Making the event possible were sponsors Chain | Cohn | Stiles (presenting sponsor), Chevron, Special Treatment Education & Prevention Services Inc., Clinica Sierra Vista, Vince Fong for Assembly, Kern County Prosecutors Association, and Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, among many others.

From Chain | Cohn | Stiles, marketing director Jorge Barrientos serves as the event planning committee chairman, and also sits on the Board of Directors for the MADD Kern County Advisory Board. Attorney Matt Clark is also a board member, and for the event served as the awards ceremony emcee.

Medals and trophies were awarded to the fastest runners in their respective age categories, with results being posted on the Bakersfield Track Club website. Awards were also given to the following top fundraisers:

  • Top Friends and Family Team: Prayers for Jourdan
  • Top Individual Fundraiser: Jourdan Bacot / Farnsworth
  • Law Enforcement Challenge: Kern County District Attorney’s Office
  • Corporate Challenge: Kern Schools Federal Credit Union

Through August this year, CHP has investigated 260 crashes in Bakersfield where DUI was a primary factor, 9 of which resulted in fatalities. That’s at least one DUI crash per day. Additionally, Kern County is averaging more than 11 DUI arrests per day. 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.

Since 2014, the annual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash has raised more than $300,000, including this year. It’s not too late to donate – donations are being accepted through October at www.walklikemadd.org/bakersfield.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, please contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com to complete a contact form. 

Chain | Cohn | Stiles helps local family affected by crash caused be alleged DUI driver

September 19, 2018 | 9:29 am


On Aug. 18, Bakersfield attorney Henry Noto allegedly got behind the wheel of his vehicle while under the influence, despite previously receiving two misdemeanors — in 2014 and 2016 — for DUI, according to news reports.

On this occasion, however, this decision caused severe injuries to several people when he failed to stop at a stop sign at on Highway 43 and struck another vehicle head on. He had a blood alcohol content of .16 percent at the time of the crash, according to CHP reports.

Noto, 62, was charged on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury in connection with the collision. According to news reports, Noto faces a felony with years of prison time.

Recently, The Bakersfield Californian spoke with Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Matt Clark regarding the DUI crash that injured 26-year-old David Perez, who suffered substantial physical injuries, including a brain injury, when Noto crashed into his vehicle. Clark is assisting the Perez family in the civil case with charge, or pro bono.

The crash and case comes before the fifth Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash on Sept. 29, in which Chain | Cohn | Stiles is the presenting sponsor. The event aims to raise awareness of the DUI problem in Kern County, raise funds for MADD Kern County’s educational programs and victim services, and support local victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes.

You can read more about Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ involvement in the civil case against Noto below. You can also listen to an interview with Clark on the Richard Beene Show by clicking here.

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By Jason Kotowski

A Bakersfield DUI attorney waived his preliminary hearing Monday and will stand trial in connection with an alleged drunken driving crash last month that injured four.

Also, new details have been released regarding the injuries suffered by one of the victims, a correctional officer whose vehicle was struck by attorney Henry Noto.

David Perez, 26, suffered “substantial” physical injuries including a brain injury, attorney Matthew C. Clark of civil law firm Chain Cohn Stiles said Monday.

“It’s going to be a long road for this young man,” he said.

The correctional officer is undergoing therapy at a local rehabilitation center. He can talk and carry on conversations, but Clark said it’s been his experience from representing others with head trauma that it takes time before the full extent of the injuries is known.

Perez had about 30 staples in his head after the crash, he said.

The firm is representing Perez pro bono and expects to soon file a lawsuit against Noto, Clark said. It’s likely they’ll be limited in what they can do for Perez, he said, because whatever money Noto has won’t be enough to pay for the officer’s treatment.

Noto, 62, failed to stop at a stop sign while exiting Interstate 5 at Highway 43 on Aug. 18, according to the California Highway Patrol. He hit Perez’s vehicle and pushed it into opposing lanes, where a third vehicle struck it.

The attorney and a female passenger, Heather Rush, 31, were also injured and taken to a local hospital. The driver of the third vehicle, 32-year-old Lucus Cotter, suffered moderate injuries but declined treatment, according to the CHP.

Noto’s blood-alcohol content was 0.16 percent, twice the legal driving limit, officers said. He’s charged with two felony DUI charges.

Court records show Noto has two prior DUI convictions, both for misdemeanors.

“It’s the same story over and over again,” Clark said. “A guy with multiple DUIs gets into another DUI accident and causes substantial life-changing injuries. It’s getting to be an old story.”

It’s especially troubling, Clark said, because Noto specializes in DUI cases.

“He practices an area of law where he’s fully aware of the risks of driving while intoxicated,” the attorney said. “And he did. He did it multiple times.

“There’s just no excuse for it.”

Noto’s next court hearing is Sept. 27. He remains in custody.

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If you or someone you know is injured in a crash caused by a DUI driver, please contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Kern County calls for ‘No More Victims’ with 2018 Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash, presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles

September 12, 2018 | 7:59 am


Kern County will come together on Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Park at River Walk in Bakersfield to proclaim “No More Victims.”

The fifth annual Bakersfield “Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash” – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – is aimed to raise awareness of the DUI problem in our local communities, raise funds for local MADD Kern County educational programs, and provide support to local victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes.

Each year, several innocent people die from crashes caused by people who choose to get behind the wheel while under the influence. Those local lives lost – plus hundreds more injured and thousands of friends and families – are affected from this 100 percent preventable crime. In addition, Kern County is averaging a shocking 11 DUI arrests per day. MADD Kern County – together with victims, local businesses and community supporters – join hands to do something about drunk driving in our community.

“We pray for a day when no one else is hurt in a crash caused by someone driving under the influence,” said David Cohn, managing partner for Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “To accomplish this, we need to have our roadways free of DUI drivers, and it’s up to all of us to make sure our friends and family members always drive sober. It’s time we proclaim, ‘No more victims’.”

Since 2014, thousands of local residents have made their voices heard while raising more than $250,000 through annual MADD Kern County events. The walk and runs bring together the entire community – surviving victims of DUI crashes, families and friends of injured and 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.

Victims of DUI crashes and their families, law enforcement, advocates and community leaders/members marching and running for the cause in a family-friendly event, with kid’s activities, fun run and costumed superheroes.

You can help by signing up for the 5K or 10K (walk or run), as a team captain, or volunteer. Parents: The event also features a free kid’s “fun run.” 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.

For its work with MADD Kern County, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been recognized and honored on several occasions, including in 2018.

  • 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.

To join Chain | Cohn | Stiles at the 2018 Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash, visit walklikemadd.org/bakersfield.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

MADD Kern County honors local officers, Chain | Cohn | Stiles for contributions in local fight against DUI crimes

June 20, 2018 | 9:37 am


Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Kern County has recognized and honored our local law enforcement officers and prosecutors for their valiant efforts in helping stop DUI crimes, and also honored Chain | Cohn | Stiles with a “Community Champion” award for the law firm’s work toward raising awareness locally and helping victims.

The 2018 Kern County MADD Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognition luncheon ceremony was held Wednesday, June 13, at Hodel’s Country Dining in Bakersfield (Liberty Hall). In all, more than 50 officers from throughout Kern County agencies were awarded, as well as a prosecutor from the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. Awards were handed out to the top prosecutor, top probation officer, and the top law enforcement officer, among others.

“This is our chance to give a big ‘thank you’ to the men and women in Kern County who are dedicated to keeping our streets as safe as possible,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County.

For a full list of award winners, and to see media coverage of the event, please see below.

The awards ceremony was organized by MADD Kern County volunteers, and made possible by the financial support of local sponsors: Chevron, Chain | Cohn | Stiles, UBS Financial, Sally Herald CPA, STEPS Inc., and Bakersfield Police Chief Lyle Martin.

Since 2009, our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, with 4,120 DUI arrests in 2017, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. That’s more than 11 DUI arrests per day. Representatives from all local enforcement agencies will be in attendance.

The awards luncheon 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 here, the second being the Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash, taking place this year on Saturday, Sept. 29, at Park at River Walk.

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TOP DUI ARRESTING OFFICER OF KERN COUNTY

Officer Rodney Black – 120 DUI Arrests

California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield

PROSECUTOR OF THE YEAR AWARD

James Simson

Supervising Deputy District Attorney of Kern County

PROBATION OFFICER OF THE YEAR AWARD

Officer Luis Gomez

Kern County Probation Department

COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD

Marsha Williams

A Life Interrupted

COMMUNITY CHAMPION AWARD

Chain Cohn Stiles

TOP ARRESTING OFFICER PER DEPARTMENT

  • Arvin Police Department Officer Kevin Archuleta – 9
  • California Highway Patrol, Fort Tejon Officer Jason Lachaussee – 11
  • California Highway Patrol, Grapevine Officer Rex Hornibrook – 2
  • California Highway Patrol, Mojave Officer Don Mulligan – 61
  • Kern County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Steven Davis – 11
  • McFarland Police Department Officer Tyler Helton – 41
  • Ridgecrest Police Department Officer Jose Farias – 12
  • Shafter Police Department Officer Jeffrey McCuan – 27
  • Taft Police Department Officer Andrew Avila – 6

CENTURY AWARDS

More than 100 DUI arrests in 2017

  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Brianna Pace – 104
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Richard Robles – 103
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Dallas Plotner – 106

DEUCE AWARDS

Between 1 and 49 DUI arrests in 2017

  • Arvin Police Department Officer Jacob Pelletier – 4
  • Arvin Police Department Officer Emilio Quezada – 4
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Logan Holmes – 46
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Audrina Doll Schneider – 37
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Jose Diaz – 27
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Jacqueline Hernandez – 30
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Tiffany Salazar – 20
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Isai Ocampo – 28
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Christopher Denman – 27
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Sergeant Kelly Olson – 10
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Sergeant James Nabors – 14
  • California Highway Patrol, Fort Tejon Officer Jeffrey Burdick – 9
  • California Highway Patrol, Mojave Officer Alejandro Zuniga – 31
  • California Highway Patrol, Mojave Officer Sean Galloway – 26
  • McFarland Police Department Officer Roberto Souza Moita – 26
  • McFarland Police Department Officer Marisela Herrera – 26
  • Ridgecrest Police Department Officer Matthew Rowland – 9
  • Shafter Police Department Officer Anthony Erwin – 16
  • Shafter Police Department Officer William Draucker – 16
  • Taft Police Department Officer Chris Gonzales – 5

MADD AWARDS

Between 50 and 99 DUI arrests in 2017

  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Johnny Moreno – 93
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Andrew Marquez – 82
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Robert Tyo – 67
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Brandon Carey – 62
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Imadd Nuriddin – 50
  • California Highway Patrol, Mojave Officer Jason Carroll – 60
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Art Aldrete – 91
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Jose Bravo – 51
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Jaime Cervantes – 73
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Daniel Dinsing – 76
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Matthew Iturriria – 82
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Mike Galvez – 70
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Gregory Jorgensen – 71
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Ahearn Lucas – 81
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Brandon Matthews – 72
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Eric Medrano – 70
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Hector Organista – 74
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Victor Valadez – 58
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Jessie Velasquez – 83
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Juan Vidal – 54
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Jason Wood – 67

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles nominated as ‘Corporation of the Year’ in 2018 Beautiful Bakersfield Awards

June 6, 2018 | 8:44 am


For its work and partnership with the Kern County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving to raise awareness of DUI crimes and help put an end to them locally, Chain | Cohn | Stiles was nominated for a 2018 Beautiful Bakersfield Award.

The Bakersfield-based personal injury and workers’ compensation law firm was nominated in the “Corporation of the Year” category, which recognizes a company whose volunteer hours and/or financial donations have made a meaningful difference. The Beautiful Bakersfield Awards annually honors the efforts of local individuals, groups, businesses and organizations that help improve the quality of life in Bakersfield.

Learn more about the Chain | Cohn | Stiles partnership and the awards.

 

NO MORE VICTIMS 

Chain | Cohn | Stiles has played a vital part of Kern County’s community for decades and has played a key part in making a significant impact locally. In fact, a significant portion of the company’s energy and budget is dedicated toward giving back to Bakersfield, and actively participating in campaigns that aim to make our community a better, safer place to live. Attorneys and staff log hundreds and hundreds of volunteer hours, belonging to local boards of directors and nonprofits, and actively helping with various local causes.

In particular, the law firm has worked closely with victims’ rights groups, specifically Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County. The law firm and its staff have been key organizers of MADD Kern County’s annual events, helping raise nearly $250,000 in the last five years in the fight to end drunk and drugged driving locally.

“Without the contributions of the law firm, MADD Kern County would not be able to do its work in our community,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County.

The law firm’s professional focus is assisting and helping people move forward after they have been seriously injured due to the fault of someone else, and many times it’s due to the negligent conduct of another. Impaired driving is an epidemic in Kern County, which sees more than 11 DUI arrests per day. Sadly, many impaired drivers aren’t stopped in time, and instead cause major damage to innocent lives. So, Chain | Cohn | Stiles partnered with the Kern County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving to raise awareness of this issue, and help put an end to DUI driving locally.

The Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash in Bakersfield — presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles — has become the largest fundraising runs locally, and one of the largest such MADD events in the country. The event brings together more than 1,000 people each year including surviving victims of DUI crashes, families and friends of injured and deceased victims, local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, first responders, advocates, our local media, and other community leaders and members. They come together to say, “Enough is enough,” and, “No more victims.”

All funds raised from this event stay in Kern County to raise awareness of the DUI problem locally, raise funds for MADD Kern County’s educational programs and victim services, and support local victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes. This year’s event will be held Sept. 29, at Park at River Walk.

Victims and community members share how much they appreciate the work of MADD Kern County and the work of volunteers like those at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. As an example, take the family of Leslie Balderrama, a Tehachapi teenager who was struck and killed by a DUI driver in 2015. The law firm represented the family in the wrongful death case and connected the family with MADD Kern County. This connection allowed the family to form a network with others who experienced similar circumstances, was assisted through the foreign court process, and gave the family an opportunity to heal and give back. The family donated $2,500 to MADD Kern County in 2017, and the law firm matched that donation.

“When we became victims of a DUI crime, MADD Kern County became our advocate and worked hard to make sure we had a voice, and treated our family with compassion,” said Denise Natividad, mother of Leslie Balderrama. “We’re able to give back now and help another local family who unfortunately will have to deal with the aftermath of the actions of a drunk or drugged driver.”

 

OSCARS OF BAKERSFIELD

Dubbed the “Oscars of Bakersfield,” the 2018 Beautiful Bakersfield Awards highlighted over 120 nominees in 15 categories, making this year the largest nominee class for the event.

In the end, the winner of the “Corporation of the Year” category was Jim Burke Ford Lincoln. According the chamber, “this automotive company launched the Ford Dimension and Dream Builders programs as a way to provide service and leadership opportunities for local youth. It also selects a company charity that its employees volunteer to support throughout the year.”

Chain | Cohn | Stiles was has been nominated once before. In 2016, the law firm was nominated in the “Renovation/Tenant Improvement” category for its work in helping revitalize downtown Bakersfield with a six-month, seven-figure renovation of an old 30,000 square-foot building.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Record numbers to hit the road for Memorial Day weekend, nation’s deadliest travel holiday. Here’s how to stay safe.

May 23, 2018 | 8:51 am


Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, and Americans will kick off the season by hitting the roads over the weekend in near-record numbers.

In fact, according to AAA, more than 41.5 million people in the United States will travel this Memorial Day weekend, which is 5 percent more than last year and the most in more than a dozen years, USA Today reports.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is joining safety advocates, including MADD Kern County and California Highway Patrol, to remind drivers to practice safe driving habits this Memorial Day, which also happens to be the deadliest travel holiday of the year.

And safe driving habits mean driving sober, driving with proper safety equipment, including seat belts and car seats, and focusing on the roads and only on the roads.

“Memorial Day is a time to remember and honor our nation’s heroes who sacrificed their lives for the safety of our country, and ultimately, for all Americans,” said David Cohn, managing partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “You can honor them by making sure your holiday, and entire summer, is as safe as possible.”

MADD KERN COUNTY

Chain | Cohn | Stiles has partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County, for years in the name of making our streets as safe as possible. This Memorial Day weekend, MADD Kern County is bringing attention to the increase in drunk driving crashes during the weekend.

In 2016, drunk driving claimed 160 people during the Memorial Day holiday weekend. If your celebrations include alcohol, plan ahead and make sure to use taxis, public transportation, rideshare services or call a non-drinking friend. Remember, drunk driving deaths are 100 percent preventable, 100 percent of the time.

MAXIMUM ENFORCEMENT

Kern County’s branches of the California Highway Patrol will be conducting a “maximum enforcement period” during the Memorial Day weekend, where the aim is to educate motorists and enforce traffic safety laws throughout the state to ensure a safe holiday.

Officers will also be watching carefully for those violating seat belt laws, those who are driving distracted, and also for those who are impaired by drugs or alcohol.

About 70 percent of the vehicle occupants who died in CHP jurisdiction in the 2016 and 2017 Memorial Day weekends were not wearing seat belts, according to the department. A total of 45 people died statewide in Memorial Day weekend collisions in 2017. During the same period, there were 921 arrests in California for driving under the influence in 2017.

CHP is also reminding motorists to protect child passengers by placing them in age-appropriate restraint devices, whether a safety seat or booster seat. The law requires that children under age 8 to ride in the back seat, and a child under age 2 is secured in a rear-facing child passenger safety seat.

CHP is taking part in the nationwide “Click It or Ticket” campaign led by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that emphasizes seat belt use until June 3. On a national level, nearly half the passenger vehicle occupants killed in collisions in 2016 were not wearing seat belts, the administration reports.

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If you or someone your know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, please call the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com to submit a contact form, or chat with a representative. 

5 new California laws in 2018 call for safer streets and workplaces

December 27, 2017 | 9:17 am


The New Year also means new laws for California.

Several laws will take effect starting Jan. 1, including several transportation-related rules and changes. They include laws related to marijuana and driving, seat belts on buses, and a new blood alcohol concentration limit for Uber drivers.

Because Chain | Cohn | Stiles focuses on motor vehicle accidents and other roadway related injury cases, we wanted to share some of these changes as we start 2018. And since the Bakersfield-based law firm also represents victims of workplace harassment, we also share one new law related to employer supervisor training.

Learn a little more about these new laws below, courtesy of the California Department of Motor Vehicles:

Marijuana Use in Vehicles (SB 65): This law prohibits using marijuana or marijuana products while driving or riding as a passenger in a vehicle. This includes smoking marijuana and consuming edibles in vehicles. Similar to the “open container” laws, marijuana products must be locked away or sealed in a container. If you break this law, you’ll get a negligent operator point counts. The same goes for motorcycle riders. The new law will be implemented after officers pull motorists over for separate moving violations.

Commercial Buses and Seat Belts (SB 20): This law requires passengers on commercial buses to put on a seat belt. Kids over 8 years old but under 16 years old won’t be allowed to ride unless they are restrained by a seat belt; otherwise, parents and legal guardians will be fined $20 on the first violation, and $50 thereafter.

DUI, Passenger for Hire (AB 2687): This one begins July 1, 2018, and this law makes it illegal for anyone to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .04 percent or higher if there is a passenger in the vehicle who has hired the driver — like Ubers or Lyfts. This is a higher standard than the current .08 BAC for all drivers. Punishment is a suspended driver’s license if convicted.

Motorcycle Training (AB 1027): This law authorizes the DMV to accept a certificate of satisfactory completion of any motorcyclist-training program approved by the California Highway Patrol in the place of a required motorcycle skills test. Applicants for an original motorcycle license or motorcycle endorsement under 21 years of age are still required to complete a novice motorcyclist-training program.

Harassment Training (SB 396): Especially relevant now during the “Me Too” movement, employers with 50 or more employees — who are already legally required to conduct two hours of sexual harassment training every two years — must include training for supervisors that includes harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.

* Update: Chain | Cohn | Stiles is no longer accepting wrongful termination and sexual harassment cases *

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If you or someone you know is injured in a vehicle accident at the fault of someone, contact the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000 or visit the website chainlaw.com.

A future with fewer traffic accidents? A look at driverless cars, safety and liability

November 8, 2017 | 7:00 am


The U.S. government recently released new federal guidance for automated driving systems that officials say has the potential to change the way we travel. But what does that mean to you, the everyday driver and passenger of motor vehicles?

The answer comes down to safety.

“The safe deployment of  automated vehicle technologies means we can look forward to a future with fewer traffic fatalities and increased mobility for all Americans,” according to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

As Chain | Cohn | Stiles managing partner David K. Cohn sees it, this is great news for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and others on our roadways. The Bakersfield-based accident and injury law firm each year represents hundreds of innocent victims of motor vehicle crashes where human error is the primary cause.

That guidance report, called “Automated Driving Systems: A Vision for Safety 2.0,” calls for industry, state and local governments, safety and mobility advocates and the public to lay the path for the deployment of automated vehicles and technologies. It can be accessed and read here.

In fact, the California Department of Motor Vehicles recently unveiled a timeline for when driverless cars may begin appearing, as well as a new set of streamlined regulations. In short, test vehicles could be on California roads and highways by June 2018, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Currently, California rules require a human driver behind the wheel even when fully autonomous cars are being tested. Driverless cars already are operating in Arizona, Florida and other states that have looser rules than California, or no specific driverless regulations at all, according to L.A. Times.

DMV officials are trying to balance safety with technology development, and safety experts believe that robot cars will prove safer than human drivers.

According to Car and Driver, removing the possibility of fatigue or alcohol impairment in a driver alone knocks 45.5 percent off the fatality rate in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also declared that a driverless-­vehicle fleet, should at a minimum cut in half the current toll of roughly 40,200 deaths annually.

The federal government will continue to set safety standards for automobiles, while the state’s role is to make sure vehicles traveling on state highways conform to federal standards, the DMV stated.

Already, some vehicles are available with autonomous features.

Available to the public for purchase, Tesla’s Model S and Model X are stocked with eight surround cameras, ensuring a full 360 degrees of visibility. Enhanced autopilot allows the self-driving car to match speed to surrounding traffic conditions and allows for multiple lane changes.

Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., similarly developed an autonomous car, Waymo, with its name deriving for the company’s mission to create “a new way forward in mobility.” Alphabet describes Waymo as “a self-driving tech company with a mission to make it safe and easy for people and things to move around.”

According to Forbes, of the 35,000 car crash fatalities in 2015, 94 percent were due to human error, with almost 40 percent of the fatalities resulting from driving under the influence.

While autonomous cars would drastically decrease the number of accidents due to the fault of the driver, car companies would face great liability from the number of accidents due to the fault of the automobiles, according to Forbes. In the event of a car accident, if the self-driving car is at fault, the automobile company would face the repercussions of the incident and accept liability. Autonomous cars could drastically increase in price in order to cover liability costs, but car insurance premiums could substantially decrease because there would be fewer accidents.

For Chain | Cohn | Stiles, which helps victims of car accidents and other motor vehicle accidents, fewer accidents equals fewer injuries and deaths. In that case, the future is bright.

— By Alyssa Wood for Chain | Cohn | Stiles 

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If you or someone you know is injured in an motor vehicle accident at the fault of someone else, please call Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com. For work injuries, you can also visit bakersfieldwclawyers.com.

Fourth annual ‘Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash’, presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles, brings out 1,000, raises over $80,000 for MADD Kern County

September 27, 2017 | 9:18 am


Kern County came together Saturday morning at the Park at River Walk to support victims of DUI crashes, call for an end of drunk and drugged driving, and raise more than $80,000 for MADD Kern County in the process.

The fourth annual Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – is aimed to raise awareness of the DUI problem in locally, raise funds for MADD Kern County’s educational programs and victim services, and support local victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes. Bringing out around 1,000 people registered for a kid’s fun run, 5K and 10K, the event has become one of the largest fundraising running events in Kern County, according to Bakersfield Track Club.

The morning featured an opening ceremony with statements from representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, victims of DUI crashes, Assistant District Attorney Scott Spielman, Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh and Bakersfield Councilman Andrae Gonzales, among others. It was followed by a kid’s fun run presented by the Bakersfield Active 20-30 Club, timed 5K and 10K runs, with medals awarded in age categories, and a march by victims, their families and supporters from our community.

Besides serving as a presenting sponsor, Chain | Cohn | Stiles plays a role in organizing the event. Marketing Director Jorge Barrientos serves as the planning committee chairman, attorney Matt Clark leads the sponsorship committee and serves as a member of the MADD Kern County Advisory Board.

“This event keeps growing each year, which shows that Kern County has had enough. Our local residents want safer streets,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County. “We hope Kern County will continue alongside us for the next 365 days as we work to prevent this 100 percent preventable crime, and ultimately end drunk and drugged driving.”

Joining in the event as sponsors were Chain | Cohn | Stiles (presenting sponsor), Chevron, Wells Fargo, Kern County Prosecutors Association, Special Treatment Education & Prevention Services Inc., FedEx, Johnson Attorneys Group, Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, Ira and Carole Cohen of UBS Financial Services, and Davita.

Media sponsors included KGET-17 and Telemundo, KERO-23 ABC, Eyewitness News KBAK-KBFX, Bakersfield Life Magazine, and KUZZ. “Friends of MADD” sponsors included Action Sports, Bakersfield Track Club, Challenge the Bear, Coud Nine Coffee Co. Costco, Hire A Hero So-Cal, Kern High School District, Martin’s Meats, Wood & Randall, and Sully’s.

Medals and trophies were awarded to the fastest runners in their respective age categories, with results being posted on the Bakersfield Track Club website. You can view the complete results here.

Awards were also given to the following top fundraisers:

  • Top Friends and Family Team: Prayers for Jourdan
  • Top Individual Fundraiser: Todd Farnsworth
  • Law Enforcement Challenge: Kern County District Attorney
  • Corporate Challenge: Kern Schools Federal Credit Union

As of September 2017, 17 people in Kern County had died this year from crashes caused by people who chose to get behind the wheel while under the influence, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. Hundreds more have been injured with thousands of friends and families affected. Kern County is averaging 11 DUI arrests per day.

Since 2014, the annual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash has raised nearly $250,000, including this year. It’s not too late to join and donate – donations are accepted until Nov. 22 at www.walklikemadd.org/bakersfield.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles matches donation to MADD Kern County by mother of Tehachapi teenager who died after being struck, killed by DUI driver

August 23, 2017 | 8:44 am


The mother of Leslie Balderrama, a Tehachapi teenager who was struck and killed by a DUI driver in 2015, has donated $2,500 to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County, following the settlement of her wrongful death lawsuit.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles, the law firm that represented mother Denise Natividad, matched the donation. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

“When we became victims of a DUI crime, MADD Kern County became our advocate and worked hard to make sure we had a voice, and treated our family with compassion,” said Denise Natividad, mother of Leslie Balderrama. “We’re able to give back now and help another local family who unfortunately will have to deal with the aftermath of the actions of a drunk or drugged driver.”

Added Matt Clark, Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney for the Natividad family:

“The crash that claimed the life of Leslie Baldarrama was incredibly tragic and 100 percent avoidable like all DUI crashes. Our law firm is honored to continue to help MADD Kern County, and it’s touching to know that Leslie’s family feels the same way.”

The $5,000 will go toward the fourth annual Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash, MADD Kern County’s annual event that raises funds to help innocent victims of local DUI crashes, raises awareness of the DUI epidemic in our community, and helps fund MADD Kern County programs, including the court advocate program that helped the Natividad family through the criminal trial. Chain | Cohn | Stiles is serving as a presenting sponsor for the event.

“Our wish is to get to a point where MADD Kern County’s services aren’t needed,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist with MADD Kern County. “Until then, we’re grateful for the support from Denise Natividad, which helps us continue to advocate for victims, and fight to end drunk and drugged driving in Kern County forever.”

The 2017 Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash will be held the morning of Sept. 23 at Park at River Walk. You can help by signing up to walk, run (free kid’s fun run, 5K or 10K), joining as a team captain, donating or volunteering. The family of Leslie Balderrama has formed a team, and will be in attendance. For more information, go to walklikemadd.org/bakersfield.

Since 2009, our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, with 4,056 DUI arrests in 2016, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. That’s more than 11 DUI arrests per day. Sadly, many impaired drivers weren’t stopped in time, and instead caused major damage to innocent lives.

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If you or someone you know is injured in a crash at the fault of someone else, please contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

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