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.
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. And Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Neil Gehlawat 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
- Kern County Prosecutors Association
- Kern County Bar Association Foundation
- 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
PREVIOUS MEDIA COVERAGE
- Kern County mothers raise awareness about drunken driving (KBAK-29 CBS; KBFX-58 FOX, Eyewitness News – Sept. 18, 2015)
- More than $47,000 raised in MADD event (The Bakersfield Californian – Sept. 25, 2015)
- Life changed dramatically for local woman after being the victim of a drunken driving crash (Bakersfield Wellness Magazine – Sept. 28, 2015) (print version online)
- Recaudación para esfuerzos contra conductores ebrios (El Popular – Sept. 25, 2015)
- Drunk driving ends here (Bakersfield Life Magazine – Aug. 29, 2015)
- MADD event: Run sober, walk sober, to convince people to drive sober (The Bakersfield Californian – Sept. 11, 2015)
- Local attorneys team up with MADD for 5K to end drunk driving (First Look with Scott Cox, The Bakersfield Californian / First Look with Scott Cox – Sept. 16, 2015) (YouTube)
- YouTube: Mothers Against Drunk Driving