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Collins Law Firm :: Blog

Halloween 2022 – Booze It & Lose It

October 26th, 2022

With the celebration of Halloween, the holiday season begins.  According to the Highway Safety Program, Halloween is among the most dangerous times a year for traffic accidents.  Halloween parties and trick-or-treat events invite individuals to come out, and the chances for drunk driving and pedestrian accidents increase. 

With the statewide Booze It & Lose It campaign which began on October 24, 2022, and will last through October 31, 2022, the Governor’s Highway Safety Program is aiming to discourage drivers from operating a car after consuming alcohol.   There will be increased law enforcement patrolling our roads, and sobriety checkpoints will be set up.

It is very dangerous to drive distracted or impaired.  But especially on Halloween with excited kids darting out in the middle of the street or simply crossing without looking, all drivers should be vigilant, keep their eyes on the road and be prepared to stop.

If you plan to go out and enjoy alcoholic beverages, please have a designated driver, use a taxi, Uber, or Lyft.  Please make sure not to turn a good time into a tragedy for yourself or others.

Also keep in mind, a charge of driving while impaired can be expensive. People charged with DWI can lose their license and may have to pay thousands of dollars in court fees and increased insurance premiums.

Have a good time this weekend and be safe!

By Jana H. Collins

National School Bus Safety Week – Operation Stop Arm

October 18th, 2022

This week, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol is focusing on their new campaign, “Operation Stop Arm,” in the midst of National School Bus Safety Week. The goal of Operation Stop Arm is to get students to school safer and to raise awareness for school bus safety laws through educational and enforcement measures.

Every day, there are approximately 14,000 school buses traveling North Carolina Highways transporting an average of 795,000 students to and from school. The Highway Patrol believes many accidents involving buses and students can be prevented if drivers are more inclined to just simply pay attention.

In North Carolina, passing a stopped school bus is a Class 1 misdemeanor and if convicted, the driver will receive five points on their driver’s license and a minimum $500 fine. If a driver passes a stopped school bus and strikes a person, it is a Class I felony and a Class H felony if the driver strikes a person and that violation results in death.

Should you or someone you know receive a citation for passing a stopped school bus or another traffic citation in New Hanover, Pender, or Brunswick County, Collins Law Firm can assist you. Give us a call at 910-793-9000 for a free consultation.

By Cheyenne M. Hensley, Legal Assistant

Supreme Court & Social Media Immunity

October 3rd, 2022

On Monday, October 3rd, 2022, the United States Supreme Court agreed to step into the issue of whether technology companies should have legal immunity over confrontational content posted by its users. The Supreme Court agreed to hear a case alleging that YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, assisted in the aiding and abetting of the murder of an American woman in Paris during the 2015 Islamic State terrorist attacks.

While studying in France, 23-year-old Nohemi Gonzalez was dining in a restaurant when she was killed amidst a wave of terrorist attacks targeting the Bataclan concert hall. Her family is seeking to sue YouTube for allowing ISIS to convey their message using algorithms, which suggests content and videos to users based on their recently viewed content. The plaintiffs do not allege that YouTube played a direct role in Gonzalez’s killing, however, the family’s lawyers claim that YouTube knowingly allowed ISIS to recruit supporters by propagating their message and posting hundreds of radicalizing videos encouraging violence on the platform. Some of those supporters went on to conduct terrorist attacks.

The family of Nohemi Gonzalez filed their lawsuit in 2016 in federal court in northern California with the hope to pursue the claim that YouTube violated the Anti-Terrorism Act. The Anti-Terrorism Act allows individuals to sue people or entities for aiding and abetting terrorist attacks.

In 1996, Congress imposed the Communications Decency Act. A provision, also known as Section 230, was intended to protect free expression on the internet by shielding internet companies from liability for the content posted on their platforms. The law also protects internet companies from liability for removing problematic content that violates their policies.

By Cheyenne M. Hensley, Legal Assistant

The Legalization of Marijuana

September 20th, 2022

It is currently illegal to use marijuana in North Carolina, but many polls show most voters support legalizing cannabis the Charlotte Observer recently reported.  A CBS News poll in April found that nearly two-thirds of Americans want marijuana or cannabis use to be legal at both the federal and state levels.  Polls conducted by SurveyUSA and Spectrum News found that 72% of North Carolina voters support the legalization of medical marijuana or cannabis. More than half of voters in North Carolina support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, according to the SurveyUSA poll. The North Carolina Senate passed a medical marijuana bill early in 2022, but it has since stalled in the NC House of Representatives The News & Observer reported recently. The bill would have allowed only those with certain ailments to use marijuana.

Even though North Carolina lawmakers have failed to reach an agreement on medical marijuana legalization, North Carolina is one of 30 states with marijuana decriminalization laws, which means some offenses do not carry the threat of jail time, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), a group that advocates for the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use.

In North Carolina a new law was passed several years ago that made possession of marijuana paraphernalia a class three misdemeanor, which is less severe than a class one misdemeanor for drug paraphernalia.

The national trend for legalization continues, and only time will tell when North Carolina will join the majority of other states in the US.

By Attorney David B. Collins, Jr.

Stoned Behind the Wheel

June 2nd, 2022

Driving While Impaired (DWI) is not limited to just alcohol. Research suggests that in instances of driving while impaired due to the use of drugs, specifically marijuana appears to have an increased rate of involvement in motor vehicle accidents. Marijuana has been identified most frequently in the blood of drivers involved in accidents, including those that resulted in fatalities. However, it can be difficult to pinpoint whether marijuana impairment plays a direct role in car accidents because the drug can be detected in bodily fluids for days and sometimes as long as a few weeks, while the symptoms of intoxication typically only last a couple of hours.

Studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggest that during the early months of 2020 and the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, driving patterns and behaviors in the United States changed significantly. Among the drivers who remained on the roads, many engaged in riskier behavior, including failure to wear seatbelts, speeding, and driving while impaired by alcohol or other drugs. Another study on seriously or fatally injured car accident victims mentioned that five participating trauma centers reported almost two-thirds of drivers involved in an accident tested positive for at least one active drug, including alcohol, marijuana, and opioids between mid-March and mid-July of 2020.

Until recently, testing for drug impairment has been somewhat problematic due to limitations regarding drug-detecting technology and the lack of a consumption limit for the purposes of determining impairment. Now, a company by the name of “Gaize” has been in the process of developing a new technological device that can detect drug impairment among drivers in the United States. This new technology is the first roadside test for identifying marijuana impairment in drivers. The device consists of goggles, similar to those used in virtual reality, which detects involuntary micro-movements that transmit information about someone’s impairment or sobriety. Gaize conducts the same testing that is performed during a Standardized Field Sobriety Test and captures irrefutable video evidence of eye movement.

With marijuana use increasing dramatically in the United States, this new technology can decipher between heavy users, who may have a large amount of THC in their system but are sober, and infrequent users, who may have a very small amount of THC in their system but are extremely impaired.

If you choose to use impairing substances, be sure to do so responsibly by planning ahead for a sober driver, prevent your friends from getting behind the wheel if they are impaired.

Cheyenne M. Hensley, Legal Assistant

Memorial Day 2022- Click It or Ticket

May 27th, 2022

Memorial Day is approaching this week, making this weekend one of the busiest travel weekends in the country. Now that travel restrictions have been lifted, an influx of Americans feel more comfortable going on trips.

In an effort to keep North Carolina drivers safe, the North Carolina Highway Patrol is working with the NCDOT and the Governor’s Highway Safety Program on their Click It or Ticket campaign. The campaign began on Tuesday, May 24th and ends on Monday, June 6th.

Troopers plan on increasing patrols and checkpoints over a span of two weeks in an attempt to encourage drivers to be more attentive when following traffic laws, a main law being the proper wearing of a seatbelt. A violation of North Carolina’s seatbelt law results in a $180 fine.  

Should you or someone you know receive a seatbelt or other traffic citation in New Hanover County, Pender County, or Brunswick County, Collins Law Firm can assist you. Give us a call at (910) 793-9000 for a consultation.

Enjoy your Holiday weekend and don’t forget to fasten your seatbelts!

By Cheyenne M. Hensley, Legal Assistant

Speed a Little.  Lose a Lot.

April 11th, 2022

In 2021, 424 speed related crash fatalities were reported in North Carolina, 273 of which were of the male population between the ages of 15 and 29. 

At high rates of speed, one’s ability to avoid obstacles in the road, or to maintain lane control in curves is drastically reduced, and vehicles travel considerably further after brakes are applied before they come to a complete stop. 

To bring awareness of the dangers of speeding the Governor’s Highway Safety Program’s annual campaign “Speed a Little Lose a Lot” was launched today, April 11, 2022, and will last through Sunday, April 17, 2022. 

During this campaign, the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, teamed up with law enforcement across the state, will step up the enforcement of speed limits in order to get motorists to slow down. 

For your own sake and the sake of others, please obey the traffic laws, and travel safely. 

However, should you or someone you know receive a citation for a traffic law violation such as a speeding ticket, call the friendly professionals at Collins Law Firm at 910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation.

Collins Law Firm represents people charged with a wide range of traffic matters from simple speeding tickets to serious felony charges. In many cases we are able to avoid the necessity of our clients appearing in court and we help eliminate or mitigate the negative consequences of citations or charges. For most minor traffic matters, Collins Law Firm offers a free initial telephone consultation or we usually have appointments available immediately if you would like to come to our office to meet with a member of our staff.

By Jana H. Collins

Port City Heat Versus Port City Blue Liners Hockey Game

March 22nd, 2022

On Saturday, March 26, 2022, the Wilmington Ice House will host the 9th annual “Guns and Hoses” charity hockey game between the Wilmington Police Department versus Wilmington Fire Department.  The teams, “Port City Heat” versus “Port City Blue Liners” will face off at 4:30 PM.  Tickets are $10 or only $5 for children 10 years old and younger.  Also, all tickets purchased in advance will include half priced admission for family skating that is held prior to the event.  You can purchase your tickets through the WPD, WFD, or Wilmington Ice House. 

The proceeds from the event will benefit Nourish NC, a local non-profit organization that works to provide healthy food options to children in our community.  Please consider bringing non-perishable items in exchange for a free raffle ticket! 

By Michelle McDonald, Paralegal

A Gift from New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office

March 8th, 2022

Last weekend, New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office gifted a brand-new bicycle to a 9-year-old girl. Officers first met this brave young girl when she was the victim of a hostage situation.  She was taken from her home at knifepoint in Wilmington.  The Emergency Response Team was able to negotiate with the suspect and rescue the child.  Then, only a few months later, the sheriff’s office responded to another call at her address, but this time, the family’s shed was broken into. Among the items stolen was the young girl’s bicycle.

About 10 members of the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office donated to buy her a new bike which they were able to give to her over the weekend. They described her as very brave and so strong.  Further, they commented that, as parents, they were honored to be able to help, and admitted that it was heartbreaking to know that her bike was stolen.  Especially knowing that she had been through so much already, they hope that this young girl will remember this one good thing for the rest of her life.

Since “good news” stories rarely make headlines, we wanted to take a moment to highlight this story.

By Michelle McDonald, Paralegal

Need Legal Advice?

March 4th, 2022

The North Carolina Bar Association and Foundation are partnering for their annual event, the 4All Statewide Service Day, held today, Friday, March 4, 2022, from 11:00 AM until 7:00 PM.  Attorney volunteers will take calls and provide free legal information at 910-218-2040. 

If you missed the event, Collins Law Firm offers free consultations for serious personal injury matters, which are handled on a contingency basis.  That means we only charge a fee if we recover money for you.  Also, we offer free telephone consultations for most traffic matters and less serious criminal charges. 

You can reach us by calling 910-793-9000.

By Michelle K. McDonald, Paralegal