Chain | Cohn | Stiles joins Bakersfield Police in fight to end DUIs, distracted driving

November 23, 2016 | 6:00 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles for years has been fighting to end drunk driving in Kern County, while also raising awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, and advocating for bicycle and pedestrian safety locally.

And with news that the Bakersfield Police Department was awarded a $415,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety for a year-long program, in part, for these same causes, the streets of Bakersfield may be getting safer.

Recently, local media highlighted the new grant that will fund educational presentations, DUI checkpoints, bicycle and pedestrian safety enforcement, distracted driving enforcement and seat belt child safety seat enforcement, and more.

“The Bakersfield Police Department is committed to ensuring traffic safety on city roadways,” said Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Williamson in a news release.

So, too, is the Bakersfield-based accident, injury and workers’ compensation law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, in partnership with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County.

In fact, Chain | Cohn | Stiles Director of Marketing and Public Relations Jorge Barrientos spoke with media about grant, and what it means for MADD Kern County. Chain | Cohn | Stiles is a strong and active supporter of MADD Kern County, and deeply involved in the fight against drunk driving in our community. Barrientos serves as the planning committee chairman for MADD Kern County’s annual fundraising and awareness event. And attorney Matt Clark is a member of the MADD Kern County Advisory Board.

“Currently we are seeing about 12 DUI arrests per day,” Barrientos told Eyewitness News. “That’s more than 4,000 a year. And, that’s just the people that are getting caught … We do know for a fact that a lot of people that are getting caught have been caught before … It’s a 100 percent preventable crime. You don’t have to get behind the wheel after you have a drink.”

In all, the grant will help fund the following efforts:
  • Educational presentations
  • DUI checkpoints
  • DUI saturation patrols
  • Bicycle and pedestrian safety enforcement
  • Motorcycle safety enforcement
  • Distracted driving enforcement
  • Seat belt and child safety seat enforcement
  • Speed, red light, and stop sign enforcement
  • Warrant service operations targeting multiple DUI offenders
  • Compilation of DUI “Hot Sheets,” identifying worst-of-the-worst DUI offenders
  • Specialized DUI and drugged driving training such as Standardized Field Sobriety Testing, Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement, and Drug Recognition Evaluator
  • Court “sting” operations to cite individuals driving from DUI court after ignoring their license suspension or revocation
  • Stakeout operations to observe the “worst-of-the-worst” repeat DUI offender probationers with suspended or revoked driver licenses

In September this year, Kern County came together for the third Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K at the Park at River Walk, called for an end of drunk driving, and raised more than $62,000 in the process to fight against drinking and driving locally.

The 2016 Bakersfield Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – aimed to raise awareness of the DUI problem in our local communities, raise funds to stop drunken driving locally, and provide support to local victims and survivors of drunken driving crashes. Since 2014, the annual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K has raised more than $160,000.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles recently has also partnered with Bike Bakersfield, a local nonprofit bicycle advocacy group, to give out free safety helmets and bike safety lights.

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

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GRANT MEDIA COVERAGE

WALK LIKE MADD & MADD DASH 5K MEDIA COVERAGE

Kern County calls for end of drunk driving in 2016 ‘Walk Like MADD’, presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles

September 28, 2016 | 10:26 am


Kern County came together for the third year Sept. 24 at the Park at River Walk, called for an end of drunk driving, and raised more than $62,000 in the process to fight against drinking and driving locally.

The 2016 Bakersfield Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash – presented by the Bakersfield accident law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles – aimed to raise awareness of the DUI problem in our local communities, raise funds to stop drunken driving locally, and provide support to local victims and survivors of drunken driving crashes. It has become one of the largest running events in the area, according to Bakersfield Track Club, with more than 800 registered timed participants.

The morning featured a touching ceremony with speeches from representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County, victims of DUI crashes, District Attorney Lisa Green, and Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall, among others. Following was a kid’s fun run, a 5K run with medals awarded in age categories, and a march by victims, their families and supporters from our community.

“We want to thank our advocates, partners, teams, participants and volunteers for making Kern County’s 2016 Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K a huge success,” said Carla Pearson, victim advocate for MADD Kern County. “We hope Kern County will commit to continue alongside us for the next 365 days as we work to prevent this 100 percent preventable crime, and end drunk driving here.”

Joining in the event as sponsors were Chain | Cohn | Stiles (as the presenting sponsor), Wells Fargo, State Farm, Chevron, Kern County Prosecutors Association, Kern County Bar Association Foundation, FedEx, Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, Clinica Sierra Vista, Special Treatment Education & Prevention Services Inc., KGET-17 and Telemundo, KERO ABC 23, Bakersfield Life Magazine, and Eyewitness News (KBAK-29, KBFX-58), and KUZZ, among others.

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

  • Top Friends and Family Team: MADD Dogs
  • Top Individual Fundraiser: Mike and Sally Yraceburn
  • Law Enforcement Challenge: Kern County District Attorney’s Office
  • Corporate Challenge: Kern Schools Federal Credit Union

Last year, Kern County saw more than 4,000 DUI arrests, averaging nearly 12 DUI arrests per day, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. And 10 people were killed because of a decision to get behind the wheel after drinking. The somber statistics continue this year.

Since 2014, the annual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K has raised more than $160,000. It’s not too late to join the fight – you can donate until Oct. 24 at www.walklikemadd.org/bakersfield

And stay tuned for information on the 2017 Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K held Sept. 23, 2017.

 

Supporting Chain | Cohn | Stiles, DUI victims

Chain | Cohn | Stiles would like to thank the following individuals and companies for supporting the law firm’s team at the 2016 Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

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Chain | Cohn | Stiles presenting sponsor for third ‘Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K’

August 17, 2016 | 9:42 am


Last year, there were 4,223 DUI arrests in Kern County, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. And since 2009, there have been at least 4,000 DUIs every year in the county, with a high of nearly 5,000 in 2011.

Since 2000, the deadliest year for DUI-related crashes countywide was 2006, when 15 people were killed. Last year, 10 were killed.

Unfortunately, the grim totals continue this year. Drinking and driving, and crashes as a result, have become an epidemic in Bakersfield and throughout Kern County.

It’s a problem, unfortunately, that the injury lawyers and staff at the Law Offices of Chain | Cohn | Stiles see all too often. The Bakersfield-based law firm represents many innocent victims of crashes who have seen their lives and their family’s ripped apart because of someone’s decision to drink and drive.

But like thousands throughout Kern County, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has subscribed to the Mothers Against Drunk Driving slogan, “Drunk driving ends here!” We’re fighting back.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is proud to be the presenting sponsor for the third annual Bakersfield “Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash 5K.” The event — which will be held Saturday, Sept. 24, at Park at River Walk — is aimed to raise awareness of the DUI problem in our local communities, raise funds to stop drunken driving locally, and provide support to local victims and survivors of drunken driving crashes.

 

Stepping Up

In the last two years, local residents have stepped up to take part in the annual Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash 5K, raising more than $100,000 total in the process. Those funds have been used to help victims of DUI crashes in emergencies, guide those victims through the court process, teach local high school students about the dangers of drinking and driving, and much more to raise awareness locally.

Through it all, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been a key organizer of the annual event. Marketing director Jorge Barrientos is the event planning committee chairman, and was named the 2015 Volunteer of the Year for MADD California. Lawyer Matt Clark also serves as a committee member, bringing in sponsors to support the cause. Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Matt Clark is a member on the MADD Kern County Advisory Board, which guides MADD Kern County on how best to implement programs and services, increase awareness of drunken driving in Kern County and raise money to accomplish its goals.

The Bakersfield California recently highlighted the newly established MADD Kern County Advisory Board. To read that article, click here.

 

‘Spirit of Fight’

For innocent victims of DUI crashes and their families, the MADD event – for at least one day – provides a venue to share stories, let them know they’re not alone, have their voices heard, remember lives lost, heal and hope together.

“Even for that one day we are heard,” said Alicia Smith in Bakersfield Life Magazine, who two years ago was hit by a drunken driver and is still recovering from a broken hip and knee, and emotional scars. “To see the community come together for this cause is wonderful in so many ways.”

The first year, Alicia took part in the event while in a wheelchair; the second year, she walked, although through pain; and this year, she’ll keep on marching, she said.

“Every year, this event is bigger and accomplishes more and more, and that spirit of fight motivates me to press on,” Smith said.

The event also brings together people from throughout the community: surviving victims of DUI crashes, families and friends of deceased victims, local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, first responders, advocates, and other community members rallying and running for the cause.

 

In This Together

“We’re all in this together,” said Matt Clark, attorney and partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “We’re all tired of seeing our neighbors, friends and family’s lives affected by such a preventable crime.”

Joining Chain | Cohn | Stiles to fight to end drunk driving as a business sponsor are:

  • Wells Fargo
  • State Farm
  • Chevron
  • Kern County Prosecutors Association
  • Kern County Bar Association Foundation
  • FedEx
  • Clinica Sierra Vista
  • Kern Schools Federal Credit Union
  • STEPS: Special Treatment Education & Prevention Services, Inc.

Local media is assisting in raising awareness throughout Kern County. They include:

  • KGET-17, Telemundo and Bakersfield CW
  • Eyewitness News: KBAK-29 and KBFX-58
  • Bakersfield Life Magazine (B Well Magazine)

 

3rd Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K

When: Saturday, Sept. 24 (check in starts at 6:30 a.m.; ceremony at 7:30 a.m.; walk/5K starts at 8 a.m.)

Where: Park at River Walk, 11298 Stockdale Highway

What: Victim 5K walk, chip-timed 5K run with medals awarded, kid’s Superhero-themed fun run, vendors, information booths, games, much more.

Register / Donate / Join the Fight: walklikemadd.org/bakersfield

Connect: Facebook at “Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 2016

 

— Marisol Earnest, for Chain | Cohn | Stiles, contributed to this article 

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MEDIA COVERAGE

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Chain | Cohn | Stiles files lawsuit in case of Tehachapi teenager killed in DUI hit-and-run

February 17, 2016 | 10:41 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the hit-and-run death of a pedestrian — a Tehachapi teenage girl — in which the driver was driving under the influence, according to California Highway Patrol reports.

Local media covered a press conference Wednesday morning hosted by Matthew C. Clark and Neil Gehlawat from the personal injury and workers’ compensation* law firm. They were joined by the mother and sister of Leslie Balderrama, who was killed in October last year.

Read the news release and click the media links to see full coverage of the press conference and criminal case.

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Bakersfield, Calif. – Leslie Elaine Balderrama was a freshman at Tehachapi High School who excelled in school and out of school, including on the basketball court and through various volunteer endeavors. Add her contagious smile and bright personality, and Leslie was in a league of her own, her family says.

On Oct. 10, 2015, Leslie was walking home from a friend’s house when she was suddenly struck by a pickup truck on the dirt right shoulder of State Route 202.  She eventually succumbed to her injuries, just 15 days shy of her 15th birthday.

The occupants of the truck – Issac Macias, 20, and passenger Ibrahim Essa Gomes, 19 – fled the scene of the crash without calling the police or summoning medical help.  Both Macias and Gomes were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash.  After the pickup collided with Leslie, Gomes got out of the pickup and looked at her, telling CHP officers later that “she didn’t look like she got that messed up,” despite her not moving. Macias never got out of the pickup.

Despite driving under the influence of alcohol, killing Balderrama, and fleeing the scene, Macias to this date has not been charged with a crime. Gomes, too, has not been charged.

On Wednesday, Chain | Cohn | Stiles will file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Leslie’s mother, Evelyn Denise Natividad, against Macias and Gomes, as well as Exelon Generation Company, LLC and First Solar, Inc., who employed Macias at the time of the collision and entrusted him with the pickup.

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During the press conference, attorney Matt Clark called the suspects in the crash “despicable” and said he has confidence that the Kern County District Attorney’s Office is working on filing criminal charges against the two.

“In my opinion, that is truly despicable conduct. They have every obligation to summon medical help,” Clark said of the hit-and-run under the influence that left Leslie dead. “I have every reason to believe charges are coming. In this type of case, there really needs to be an example set.”

Additionally, mother Denise Natividad spoke about her daughter, and her commitment to school, sports and her community.

“It’s hard every day I have to live without her.”

* Editor’s Note: Neil Gehlawat is no longer an attorney with Chain | Cohn | Stiles *

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MEDIA COVERAGE (FATAL HIT-AND-RUN)

MEDIA COVERAGE (PRESS CONFERENCE / WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT)

MEDIA COVERAGE (SENTENCING)

Chain | Cohn | Stiles helps raise more than $50K to help local victims of DUI crashes in Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K

September 23, 2015 | 9:24 am


More than 500 Kern County community members — including dozens from the law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles — joined together Saturday morning at the Park at River Walk to help put an end to drunken driving locally, and in the process raised more than $50,000 to support victims of DUI crashes.

The Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K aims to raise awareness in our own community, raise funds to stop drunken driving and underage drinking locally, and provide support to victims and survivors of drunk driving crashes. Saturday’s event brought together surviving victims of DUI crashes, families and friends of deceased victims, local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, first responders, advocates, and other community members rallying and running for the cause.

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

  • Top Friends and Family Team: MADD Dogs
  • Top Individual Fundraiser: Michael Yraceburn
  • Top Corporate Team: Kern Schools Federal Credit Union
  • Kern County Law Enforcement Challenge Winner: Kern County District Attorney’s Office

“We want to thank our advocates, heroes, champions, partners, teams, participants and volunteers for making Kern County’s Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K a huge success,” said Carla Pearson, victim advocate for MADD Kern County. “We hope Kern County will commit to continue alongside us for the next 365 days as we work to prevent this 100 percent preventable crime, and end drunk driving here.”

Chain | Cohn | Stiles joined as the gold sponsor for the event. Several other local businesses also joined the fight to end drunk driving in Kern County, including Chevron and Kern Schools Federal Credit Union. For a full list of sponsors, click here.

The firm brought together more than 40 employees, friends and family members of employees, and a few clients of the firm, who are innocent victims of DUI crashes.

Several friends of the law firm donated to the Chain | Cohn | Stiles team. Their generosity is much appreciated. They included:

  • Dr. Geoffrey Miller
  • Tom Stevenson
  • Chad Barger

Several Chain | Cohn | Stiles employees also competed in the 5K race. Attorney Matt Clark finished in 11th place overall, and a family member of a firm employee finished in the top 10. For a complete race results list, click here. Below is the top 10 finishers, and their times:

  • Kelly Blikre: 20:21
  • Stacy Phelps: 20:39
  • Garrett Sugimoto 20:49
  • Carl Hatley: 21:05
  • Mark Riehle: 22:03
  • Arjan Ynostroza: 22:09
  • Adam Martinez: 22:12
  • Garrett Rice: 22:43
  • Laila Irogoyen: 23:09
  • Vernie Herman: 23:12

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles continues fight to end drunk driving in Kern County with MADD

September 2, 2015 | 3:13 pm


California Highway Patrol gave nearly 2,200 citations for driving under the influence in Bakersfield in 2014. CHP officers in Kern County in the same year also noted 312 collisions, 422 injuries, and 14 fatalities – all involving DUI.

They are statistics, arrests and tragedies that are 100 percent preventable – choices were made by people to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. That decision affected families and communities.

In an effort to raise awareness in our own community, raise funds to stop drunken driving and underage drinking locally, and provide support to victims and survivors of drunk driving crashes, the Kern County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving will host its second Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19, at Park at River Walk, 11200 Stockdale Highway in Bakersfield.

For the second year, the Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles is supporting MADD and the event, serving as sponsor and key partner in organizing the event. Earlier this year, Chain | Cohn | Stiles marketing director Jorge Barrientos was named MADD California’s volunteer of the year for his work with MADD Kern County.

This second annual event follows the first-ever Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash in which 700 people attended and raised more than $46,000 to fight against drunk driving locally. That event followed a tragic 2013 on Kern’s roadways in which more than 30 deaths and 600 injuries occurred at the hands of drunken drivers.

“The fight is not over,” said Carla Pearson, victim advocate for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County. “People are still making the choice to get behind the wheel after drinking, putting your life and their own life at risk. These are not accidents – they are 100 percent preventable crashes.”

The event ceremony will start at 7:30 a.m. and the race and walk will kick off starting at 8 a.m. In attendance will be surviving victims of drunken driving crashes and their families, supporters, law enforcement officers with their vehicles, a Kern County Fire Department engine and giant flag, A Life Interrupted display vehicle, an activities area for kids, advocates, and other community members rallying and running for the cause.

For more information and to register to participate, go to www.walklikemadd.org/bakersfield.

SPONSORS

The event is supported by local law enforcement and prosecutors, as well as sponsoring local companies. Sponsors include:

Local media is also supporting the cause and helping raise awareness. Media sponsors include:

Several other local groups are assisting MADD Kern County with donations and other assistance. They include:

MEDIA COVERAGE

Several local media agencies have partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to raise awareness of the problems in Kern County, and support the Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K. Stay tuned to this section for coverage of the event.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles marketing director earns statewide honor for MADD volunteer work

June 9, 2015 | 6:00 am


Jorge Barrientos, director of marketing and public relations for the Bakersfield-based law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, was awarded California’s Volunteer of the Year award on May 30 by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, California, at the “Celebrating California’s Heroes” law enforcement and community recognition event in Sacramento.

Barrientos helped lead marketing, public relations and marketing efforts for MADD’s signature event in Bakersfield, “Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K.” In part because of Barrientos and the rest of the planning committee, the inaugural event in September last year raised nearly $50,000 to help local innocent victims and families of drunk driving crashes, and brought together more than 700 local residents to bring awareness of the DUI epidemic in Kern County.

With the help of local media, Barrientos was able to share the stories of MADD and the effects of drinking and driving locally – including sharing victim stories – to a wide audience in Kern County. He wrote articles on the subject for local publications and organized appearances on local news segments for local MADD representatives, sponsors, and planning committee members, appearing himself on several segments.

The “Celebrating California’s Heroes” dinner and awards – hosted by MADD California, California Office of Traffic Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Association – was held at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento.

You can view Barrientos’ complete profile in the awards program here.

MADD & Chain | Cohn | Stiles

Chain | Cohn | Stiles has worked closely with Mothers Against Drunk Driving for several years. Last year, the law firm played a vital part in planning and organizing the first-ever Bakersfield “Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K.”

The event — on Sept. 20, 2015 at Park at River Walk — brought together more than 700 people and raised nearly $50,000 to fight drunken driving in Kern County. The event was also aimed to raise awareness of drinking and driving crashes in Kern County, to raise money to support local victims and their families, and to fight to end drinking and driving in Bakersfield. Other Kern County community business and organizations stepped up as sponsors for the event.

This year, Chain | Cohn | Stiles is once again sponsoring the event, the second “Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K,” which will be held Sept. 19, at Park at River Walk. Other sponsors include Chevron, Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, FedEx, Steps, Kern County Prosecutors Association and Brown’s Backhoe Service, Inc. Media sponsors include KGET-17, KBAK-29, KBFX-58, KERO-23 and Bakersfield Life Magazine.

For more information on the MADD walk and run, and to see how you can help fight against drinking and driving, visit the website www.walklikemadd.org/bakersfield.

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Click on the article below to see a mention of the award in The Bakersfield Californian:

People in Business: Jorge Barrientos

How to ring in the New Year safely, without drinking and driving

December 30, 2014 | 9:04 am


Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that drunk driving fatalities in the United States last year topped 10,000 for yet another year – 10,076 in fact. Sadly, the risk of sharing the road with a drunk driver is even higher on holidays, especially around New Year’s.

In fact, New Year’s Day is the most dangerous day of the year for drunk driving on our nation’s roadways, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. On New Year’s Day in 2012 – after the ball dropped at midnight – 70 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in the United States, which represented more than half of all traffic fatalities that day.

The Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles would like to remind Kern County drivers to make this New Year’s, and every other day of the year, safe for traveling.

“This is a time of year when, unfortunately, we see too many people out there driving under the influence of alcohol,” said Matt Clark, car accident lawyer and partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, during an interview on The Groove 99.3 with Sheri Ortiz. “There are a lot of holiday parties. People go out. I don’t want to discourage people from going out and having a good time, and enjoying the holidays, but there’s a way to do that responsibly.”

Clark continued: “In my line of work, unfortunately, we see the worst of it often times — where there’s been a DUI accident and someone is injured. Too often somebody is killed. And then I have to console their families after they’ve lost a loved one. I just don’t want to see that happen during this holiday.”

You can listen to the full interview by clicking here.

To make sure you have a safe and fun New Year’s celebration for everyone, use these tips (courtesy of MADD):

Going out?

  • Designate a non-drinking driver to make sure you, and everyone with you, arrive home safely.
  • Save the number of a cab service in your phone before heading out, consider hiring a shuttle or limousine service to transport you and your friends to and from your event, or arrange a hotel stay for you and your friends on the evening of the event so no one drives home impaired. Ride-sharing services Lyft and Uber is partnering with Mothers Against Drunk Driving this New Year’s Eve.
  • Don’t get in a car with someone who has been drinking.

Planning a party?

  • As guests RSVP, confirm that at least one person in each group is prepared to be the sober designated driver or has a plan to get home.
  • Provide plenty of food to keep your guests from drinking on an empty stomach.
  • Offer non-alcoholic beverages for designated drivers and others who prefer not to drink alcohol.
  • Have the number of a taxi service on hand for those who need a ride. Also, be ready with some clean linen so you can turn your sofa into a bed for guests who need to sleep it off.
  • If someone who’s impaired is trying to drive, stop them.

“There are so many ways you can go out and have a good time without putting yourself, or other people on the road, at risk,” Clark said on the radio show.

DUI crashes with injury have dramatically increased in Kern County, according to local news reports. The latest state DUI Management Report released last year shows that 4,633 DUI arrests were made county-wide.

It’s the reason Clark and other personal injury attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles have been deeply involved in sponsoring and organizing the Bakersfield “Walk/Run Like MADD,” hosted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County. The second annual event will be held Saturday, Sept. 19, at The Park at River Walk.

The 5K is aimed at raising awareness about the DUI epidemic in Kern County, and to raise money to help victims of drunk driving, among other things. Last year’s walk and run raised $46,000 and brought together 700 people including DUI crash victims and families of victims.

If you are interested in taking part or sponsoring the upcoming MADD walk/run in Bakersfield, call 661-334-4948 or email jbarrientos@chainlaw.com. You can also visit the local event website at www.walklikemadd.org/bakersfield.

Celebrate the holidays without drinking and driving

December 9, 2014 | 9:28 am


The holidays, traveling and parties go hand in hand. But it’s important not to mix the three, unless you have a sober driver.

If you‘re celebrating with alcohol this holiday season, the Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, along with Kern County law enforcement, reminds you to drive sober, or get pulled over.

Due to the increase locally in drunken driving-related crashes and fatalities, the Bakersfield Police Department will be out in full force from Dec. 12 to Jan. 5 actively searching for impaired drivers. The DUI task force also plans to place two DUI-driver‘s license checkpoints and eight local roving DUI Saturation Patrols, the department reported.

California Highway Patrol, too, will be out in full force. The Bakersfield-area CHP will deploy officers on enhanced enforcement on State Routes 43, 46, 58, 65, 99, 119, 155, 178, 184, 204 and 223, and jurisdictional unincorporated roadways in Kern County, the agency reported.

During the holiday season in 2012, 40 percent of the drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes had at least one prior DUI on their record, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. During that same holiday period, 37 percent of the 21 to 24-year old drivers in fatal crashes were impaired. Almost one out of six drivers under the age of 21 in those fatal crashes was also drunk, even though they were too young to legally buy or consume alcohol.

Besides causing injury and harm to others on the harm, the consequences of drinking and driving include jail time, fines, loss of your driver’s license, towing fees, and other DUI expenses totaling $10,000 on average, not to mention humiliation drivers face among your family, friends and workplace.

The best way to avoid drinking and driving is to remain sober. But if you will celebrate with a few drinks, here are a few things you can do to stay safe:

  • When you know you’ll be drinking, leave your keys at home or give them to someone else.
  • Designate a sober driver ahead of time, or call a friend or family member.
  • Use public transportation or call a taxi, Uber or Lyft.
  • And if you see a drunk driver on the road, call 9-1-1. You could save a life.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County, also reminds motorists that the most dangerous days of the year on our nation’s roadways are between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. This season, MADD is asking drivers to Tie One On For Safety.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is deeply involved with the Kern County chapter of MADD, sponsoring and organizing the second “Walk/Run Like MADD” 5K in Bakersfield on Sept. 19, 2015, at the Park at River Walk. The event is aimed to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving, and to raise funds for victims of DUI crashes. Learn more about the “Walk Like MADD” event by clicking here.

If you are involved in a car accident this holiday season due to the fault of a DUI-driver or another motorist, call the car accident lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000. You can also visit our specialized Car Accident website by clicking here for more information.

Nearly 700 participate, $46K raised in Chain | Cohn | Stiles-sponsored MADD walk (with photo gallery)

September 22, 2014 | 10:24 am


More than 700 people participated in the first-ever Bakersfield “Walk/Run Like MADD” — sponsored by Chain | Cohn | Stiles — which was held Saturday morning at the Park at River Walk.

More than $46,000 was raised to fight drunken driving in Kern County, making this inaugural 5K run and walk a huge success.

The event aimed to raise awareness of drinking and driving crashes in Kern County, to raise money to support local victims and their families, and to fight to end drinking and driving in Bakersfield.

The day featured informational booths from sponsors and other groups aiming to inform about the dangers of drinking and driving, MADD representatives who spoke about the importance of coming together to fight against drunk driving, California Highway Patrol’s Robert Rodriguez who sang the national anthem, a prayer by the Health family (victims of a drunken driving crash), announcement by Peter Wonderly, and a speech by Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green. The walk featured families of victims marching with signs and photos of their loved ones, and hundreds also participated in the competitive 5K race.

Kern County community business and organizations stepped up as sponsors for the event. They included Dignity Health, Chain | Cohn | Stiles, Bakersfield Police Officers Association, Kern County Prosecutors Association, Ira Cohen of UBS Financial, Comprehensive Blood & Cancer Center, Kern County Bar Association and Aum Physical Therapy. To see a sponsor list, which were featured on the event T-shirts, go here.

Others contributed to the event in various ways. They included:

  • Sam’s Club, which donated water bottles.
  • The Gehlawat family, which made several monetary donations.
  • Media friends — KGET, KERO, KBAK, KBFX, El Popular and The Bakersfield Californian — who all helped raise awareness.
  • Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, which came out to support victims.
  • Sully’s Chevron, which donated ice for the event.
  • Sole 2 Soul, which hosted the pre-registration packet pickup on Friday, Sept. 19.

Local media helped spread awareness Saturday by interviewing victims, families and participants. Here is some of the media coverage from the event:

The “Walk/Run Like MADD” planning committee — which included Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Matt Clark and marketing director Jorge Barrientos — would like to thank sponsors, those who donated, volunteers and participants in the event for their dedication to fighting against drunken driving.