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Motorcyclist Killed by Drunk Driver on the 101 Freeway

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Let’s start holding the supplier of alcohol responsible for accidents caused by intoxicated drivers.

A 21-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of felony driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs after she allegedly hit and killed a motorcyclist on the 101 Freeway and then abandoned her car and hitched a ride home with a passing motorist. According to an article posted on Fox News’ Web site, Stephanie Nordberg was taken into custody in her home early Friday morning, several hours after the alleged incident.

Police said the crash happened at about 10:40 Thursday night north of Highland Avenue when Nordberg’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo hit a motorcyclist traveling in the number three lane. The rider, identified only as a 33-year-old Palmdale man, was driving a custom-made two-wheeler to the home of its owner, who was following in a nearby vehicle, according to the article.

Nordberg’s Chevy then careened and hit the center divider where it was hit by a 2006 Toyota Solara. The 28-year-old woman who was driving that car was fortunately not hurt. Officials say Nordberg then left her vehicle on that freeway near the scene of the crash and then flagged down a passing motorist who reportedly drove her home. Meanwhile paramedics took the motorcyclist to a local hospital where he died, the report said.

What a tragedy for the young man and his family! It is beyond me how someone can cause a severe injury accident and not do whatever they can for the injured and immediately leave the scene, seemingly like nothing happened. I am trusting that Nordberg, if she was the at-fault driver, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Years in jail would not be too harsh for causing a hit-and-run fatal accident, especially while intoxicated.

In order to up the ante for driving while intoxicated and make our roadways safer, I believe we should start holding the supplier of alcohol or any other intoxicant, civilly liable for the damages caused to third parties by the impaired driver that they provided intoxicants to, for injuries caused by impaired drivers to third parties. If someone supplies alcohol, say at a bar, a wedding, a banquet or over dinner, and the supplier knew or should have known that the person they served was likely to be intoxicated, the supplier would be held civilly responsible for damages to third parties.

This is not a new theory, in the 1978 California Supreme Court case of Coulter vs. Superior Court of San Mateo County and Schwartz and Reynolds, Sup, 145 Cal Rptr 534 the court held that a social host could be liable to third persons injured as a result of the intoxication of the consumer of the alcohol. Justice Richardson, with whom the majority agreed, held that “a social host who furnishes alcoholic beverages to an obviously intoxicated person, under circumstances which create a reasonably foreseeable risk of harm, to others, may be held legally accountable to those third persons who are injured when that harm occurs”.

Many states have what is known as “dram shop” laws which place liability on the seller of alcoholic beverages to a visibly intoxicated person or minor who thereafter causes injury or death to a third party. Many states have “social host” liability laws, which place liability on the social provider of alcoholic beverages to a person they knew, or should have known was intoxicated when they knew the person would be driving afterwards.

Many will argue against such a law. It would inhibit selling alcohol at bars, it would inhibit free flowing alcohol at parties and it would cut down on alcohol sales. Is that the only price we, as a society, would have to pay to save the carnage that results on our highways from intoxicated drivers? That doesn’t seem too high of a price to pay. That seems like mandating social responsibility.

Another option I would add in is that all new vehicles have alcohol detection systems that would not allow an impaired driver to start a car. Such technology exists. If it was mandated for every new car the cost would be tolerable. It could also be mandated by courts for anyone who has EVER been convicted of driving under the influence as a condition of them keeping a driver’s license.

If you are sensing that I have an attitude about intoxicated drivers when I represent the people they injure, maim and kill, you are right. I do not handle them with the same attitude as an “accident”. Driving while intoxicated and killing someone, isn’t an accident and should not be handled as one. It is a conscience disregard, amounting to an intentional act, in my opinion. The fact is, that we at BisnarnChase recover more money for our clients injured by intoxicated drivers, for the same injury, than if the at-fault driver was simply negligent.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, or have been injured in an auto accident due to a drunk driver, please call me, John Bisnar, for your free and confidential case consultation. 800-259-6373.

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  • concerned citizen

    i certainly understand where you’re coming from on this, and indeed some states have extra accountability laws for bars. but even with those laws on the books, it’s still a very subjective argument.

  • Ramon

    I just found out that Stephanie Norberg has been found guilty. She will be sentence on June 12th, 2009, and will receive 11-15 years behind bars.

  • S. Lopez

    I was told that Stephanie Norberg might not be sentenced on June 12, 2009.

  • another concerned citizen

    Does anyone know what the final outcome of this case was? Was she ever convicted and sentenced?

  • John Bisnar

    An Equally Concerned Citizen,

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