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Collins Law Firm :: Blog

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

Fatal Crash Factors: Speeding and DWI

February 8th, 2022

WECT reported on February 3, 2022, that they requested and reviewed recent traffic data from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) due to a “dramatic increase” of traffic-related fatalities in our area. New Hanover County’s District Attorney (DA) Ben David even referenced 35 fatalities that occurred on New Hanover County’s roads alone.  WECT interpreted the DOT data as the highest rise in fatal crashes ever recorded with traffic death numbers in 2021.

State Highway Patrol data show troopers responded to fewer DWI-related crashes in 2021, but speed continues to be a problem.

Wilmington Police Department (WPD) reflected a 48 percent decrease in speeding tickets issued in 2021 than in 2020.  WPD admitted there have been staff shortages since the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic, and each of the law enforcement agencies have struggled with filling their many vacancies.  However, WPD swore in eleven officers on January 28, 2022.

With respect to being short staffed, DA Ben David said, “They’re doing more with less than any time I’ve been a prosecutor.  One of my real hopes for 2022 is that we really ramp up enforcement, particularly with two things that kill people on the roads: speed and DWI enforcement.” In conclusion, we should expect to see more blue lights in 2022 according to WECT who reported that there will be an increase in enforcement with an emphasis on Speeding and DWI, which are key factors for fatal crashes.

By Michelle K. McDonald, Paralegal

North Carolina Expunction Law Revision

February 2nd, 2022

Although many provisions of the Second Chance Act went into effect in 2020—a new law intended to give one in four North Carolinians who have a criminal record a chance at a clean slate—hit a key milestone in December 2021.

Beginning on December 1, 2021, charges for which one was found not guilty or which were dismissed, will be expunged by operation of law pursuant to N.C.G.S.§15A-146 (a4):

(a4) Dismissal, Not Guilty, or Not Responsible on or After December 1, 2021. – If any person is charged with a crime, either a misdemeanor or a felony, or is charged with an infraction, the charges in the case are expunged by operation of law if all of the following apply:

(1) All charges in the case are disposed on or after December 1, 2021.

(2) All charges in the case are dismissed without leave, dismissed by the court, or result in a finding of not guilty or not responsible.

Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, no case with a felony charge that was dismissed pursuant to a plea agreement will be expunged pursuant to this subsection.

These automatic expunctions do not apply to dismissal which are the result of a deferred prosecution, or which were dismissed pursuant to a plea of guilty to another charge.

Before this new law went into effect, the fact that one was charged with a crime remained on ones records and would show on criminal background checks despite a dismissal or a finding of not guilty, unless the charges were expunged after one petitioned the court for an expunction of record.  For charges which were dismissed or acquitted prior to December 1, 2021, one still needs to petition the court for an expunction.

Should you have a criminal record and would like to have your record expunged, please contact Collins Law Firm for a confidential consultation to determine your eligibility.

By Michelle K. McDonald, Paralegal

Booze It & Lose It Campaign – 2021 Holiday Season

December 20th, 2021

As of December 13, 2021, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol started their Booze It & Lose It campaign, and that will run through January 2, 2022.

Mark Ezzell, the director of the N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program (NCGHSP), says, “If you’re out celebrating this holiday season, make sure you have a sober ride home. If you drive under the influence, you have a lot to lose. Not only could you kill yourself or someone else, but you could face thousands of dollars in court costs and fines, jail time, or a revoked license.”

The “Booze It & Lose It” campaign is one of the largest that is operated by the NCGHSP – in 2020, officers wrote over 1,700 tickets for driving while intoxicated (DWI).

According to the State Highway Patrol, 326 people have died in North Carolina accidents so far in 2021, all due to impaired driving.

According to the NCGHSP, here are some tips to remember for road safety over the holidays (and year round):

•    Never drive impaired and always find a safe ride home;

•    Buckle your seatbelt when riding in any seat in the vehicle; and

•    Follow the speed limit.

However, if you are charged with any type of crime in Southeastern North Carolina, in or around Wilmington, NC, in New Hanover County, Brunswick County, or Pender County, call Collins Law Firm at 910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation about what we can do to help you.

By Karen M. Thompson, Paralegal

Being a Pedestrian in Wilmington Traffic

October 22nd, 2021

As the fall season starts this year and Halloween comes closer, there are more pedestrians as well as more drivers on our roads.

There have been multiple hit-and-run accidents this year in our area, including the tragic death of 25-year-old Ammad Brown, who was hit and killed by a vehicle last month in Carolina Beach.

The Wilmington Police Department (WPD), as well as other local authorities, urges pedestrians to be extra cautious and mindful of the laws, especially considering that traffic has the right of way if a pedestrian is crossing the street mid-block.

Authorities say that following these pedestrian safety tips could save lives:

  • If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
  • When possible, cross the street at a designated crosswalk.
  • Always look both ways before crossing the street.
  • Look for cars in all directions, including those turning right or left.
  • Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach you to make sure you are seen.
  • Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available.
  • Wear bright clothing during the day and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.

Another extremely common cause of car accidents is distracted driving. Distracted driving includes texting, eating, or simply not paying attention to their surroundings while operating a motor vehicle.  It only takes a moment of distraction for a possibly life-changing accident to occur.  Take a second to think before texting while driving, or being distracted in another way – it could be what it takes to save a life! However, eliminating distractions while driving is only half the battle when considering being a safe driver – you have to also be aware of other driver’s movements and anticipate possible traffic violations, such as an unsafe lane change, or failure to stop for a stop sign or red light. 

If you or a loved one is seriously injured in an accident, as a result of someone else’s fault or negligence, we can help you get maximum compensation (money damages) for your pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost wages.

If you are charged with any type of crime in Southeastern North Carolina, in or around Wilmington NC in New Hanover County, Brunswick County, or Pender County, call Collins Law Firm at 910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation about what we can do to help you.

By Karen M. Thompson, Paralegal