A Rialto police officer suffered serious injuries in a San Bernardino car accident when a suspected drunk driver struck the officer’s motorcycle. According to a news report in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, the motorcycle accident occurred the afternoon of September 28, 2009 at the intersection of Riverside Avenue and Merrill Street in Rialto, California. Police said Joel Hill, 63, the driver of a Ford Tempo and the officer were both headed south on Riverside Avenue before their vehicles collided. A preliminary investigation showed that Hill was not speeding and did not run a red light, but he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Hill was not injured in the crash.
I’m relieved, given the intensity of this car accident, that the police officer did not suffer life-threatening injuries. I wish him the very best for a speedy and complete recovery.
San Bernardino Motorcycle Accident Statistics
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2007 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there were no fatalities, but 17 injuries involving motorcycle accidents in Rialto, California. In San Bernardino County as a whole, 28 fatalities and 627 injuries were reported as a result of motorcycle accidents in 2007.
Based on this newspaper report, both the Ford Tempo and the motorcycle were traveling in the same direction and the Ford Tempo sustained major damage to the right front end. It appears to me that the driver of the Ford rear-ended the motorcycle and his impairment caused this accident.
California DUI Laws
It is a crime to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs in California. California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a) states: “It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.” The same code section also states that it is illegal for any person with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more to drive a vehicle.
If Hill was in fact intoxicated at the time of the crash, he will most likely be charged with felony DUI because of the officer’s serious injuries. Even if it is later determined that he was not impaired, I would be interested to find out why Hill rear-ended the officer? What were the other factors in this crash? Was Hill distracted? Was he negligent in some other way that he wasn’t paying attention to traffic? The answers to these questions will help determine whether Hill should be held civilly liable as well.
In this case, because the officer was on duty, he would be entitled to workers compensation benefits. But in addition to that, in such cases, accident victims may also collect compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance company. Injured victims would be well-advised to retain the services of a California personal injury lawyer, who will analyze all aspects of the accident and make sure the negligent parties are held accountable. The best personal injury law firms will offer a free and comprehensive initial consultation to injured victims and/or their families.