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Archive for May, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend 2015 – Aftermess

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

This past Memorial Day weekend, Wilmington officials reported numerous traffic violations and accidents. According to news sources, there were approximately six deadly crashed that occurred throughout the state, one of which tragically took the lives of a newborn and toddler in Pender County. In all, seven people lost their lives in these accidents over the weekend. Half of these incidents occurred in the Cape Fear region. The number of fatal crashes has reduced since last year, however, one life lost is still one too many. Always wear your seatbelt and be alert and aware of your surroundings.

Efforts to improve motor vehicle safety were noted over the weekend as well. State troopers reported close monitoring of speed in Brunswick County, issuing around one dozen tickets for speeding. Highway patrol reported giving an additional 160 citations in the Cape Fear region this weekend alone.

Last Saturday night, the Wilmington Police Department hosted a checkpoint at the intersection of Market Street and 15th Street, leading to over 70 charges. Out of these charges, 10 were DWI related.

If you or someone you know is in need of representation for a traffic offense, please give Attorney David Collins a call. With over 20 years of experience, we are able to help you in most matters! Call us at 910-793-9000.

By Brittany L. Bryant, Legal Assistant at Collins Law Firm

2015 Memorial Day Weekend

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

The aroma of hotdogs and hamburgers is soon going to fill the air! Memorial Day is upon us! Most know this holiday as one filled with family cookouts and time spent at the beach. Wilmington natives avoid traffic, as they know this city is a premier destination for those all over the state. For tourist’s driving to the local area, it is advised to leave home early in order to help avoid traffic that occurs on the highways. This year, the NCDOT is halting construction projects on major highways in an effort to help its citizens reach their holiday destinations safely and without strife. According to the NCDOT website, NCDOT will put on hold most construction projects along interstate, N.C. and U.S. routes from 4 p.m. on Friday, May 22, until 9 a.m. on Tuesday, May 26, with these exceptions:

  • U.S. 158 (Elizabeth Street) in Elizabeth City is reduced to one lane in each direction from Road Street to the Pasquotank River Bridge for resurfacing and construction of a new bridge;
  • U.S. 264 in Dare County will be reduced to one of two lanes controlled by temporary traffic signals in three locations for the replacement of three bridges. Lane closures are located between Stumpy Point and the Hyde County line;
  • Two bridges in Brunswick County on N.C. 211 over the Honey Island Swamp will have intermittent lane closures in order for crews to realign the roadway and replace both bridges and approaches;
  • Third Street in New Hanover County is closed for a bridge replacement with a signed detour;
  • I-85 southbound between the Virginia state line and the U.S. 1 interchange will have lane closures in place day and night as crews work to strengthen the shoulders and patch concrete; and
  • I-73 in Guilford County is reduced to two lanes in each direction between Wendover Avenue and I-85.

Today, the NCDOT launched its “Click It or Ticket” campaign. This campaign reminds drivers and passengers alike that everyone in the vehicle must properly wear their seat belts at all times. Not wearing a seat belt is unsafe and costly; court costs for this infraction are typically around $160.00.

With most activities that occur during the holiday, adults will be drinking alcoholic beverages. Please remember to have a designated driver if you plan on drinking. According to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), every two minutes, a person is injured in a drunk driving accident.

If you will be in the waterway’s this weekend, remember to wear proper life jackets. In 2013, the U.S. Coast Guard counted 4,062 accidents, 560 deaths, 2,620 injuries, and approximately $39 million dollars of property damage as a result of recreational boating accidents. Where cause of death was known, 77% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims, 84% were not wearing a life jacket.

May is also Motorcycle Awareness Month. Be sure to share the road and check all areas surrounding your vehicle before changing lanes.

If you or someone you know have been hurt in a boating or motorcycle accident, or is seeking representation in a criminal or traffic matter, please call the professionals at Collins Law Firm for a confidential consultation at 910-793-9000.

By: Brittany Bryant, Legal Assistant

Amtrak Train Derailment

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

On Tuesday night, May 12, 2015, an Amtrak train traveling from Washington, DC to New York City derailed in the Port Richmond neighborhood of northeast Philadelphia, leaving at least seven people dead and more than 200 injured. At 9:30p.m, during this seemingly normal commute, Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 approached a bend, traveling at a speed of 106 MPH, more than twice the speed limit (of 50 MPH) in this area of the track.

Investigators are now trying to determine the cause of this terrifying accident; is the engineer to blame, did equipment fail, or was something even entirely different the cause of this tragedy?  Some believe that the real issue is the absence of available safety technology which could have prevented the derailment of Amtrak Train 188.  When using this safety technology called Positive Train Control (PTC), especially equipped trains receive reliable and functional information, preventing unsafe train movements and thereby preventing accidents from happening.  PTC Systems monitor the movement of trains and take control over a train in case of human error.

In 2008 Congress mandated the implementation of PTC technology across most of our nation’s railroads by the end of 2015.  While Amtrak has already installed the technology in parts of its Northeast Corridor, questions remain as to why the technology was not available on a critical stretch, the curve in the Port Richmond neighborhood, where Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 derailed this past Tuesday night.

For many involved in this tragic accident, questions rise on how to cope with their losses and how to move on.  Obviously, those who were killed in the accident cannot be brought back to life, injuries that were sustained cannot be undone.  However, damages which can be recovered are compensation for the pain and suffering of the injured or deceased, expenses for medical care as a result of the injury, and so on.  Further investigation of the accident will reveal if punitive damages can also be recovered.

Amtrak’s liability however is capped at $200 million per accident.  While $200 million appears to be a large amount, in an accident as large as this one, the funds can become depleted quite quickly.

If you or someone you know have been hurt in a train accident, please call the professionals at Collins Law Firm for a free confidential in depth consultation at 910-793-9000.

By Jana H. Collins

Underage Drinking : Facts and Repercussions

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

There are many risks associated with the liberal consumption of alcohol. The most significant risk is when a person hazards a motor vehicle crash due to having too high a concentration of alcohol in their system while driving. Since 1993, it has been illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08% or higher in the state of North Carolina. Even so, almost 2,000 people under 21 are killed yearly in car crashes in which alcohol was involved .

It is important for young people to remember that North Carolina has a strict zero tolerance policy where underage drinking and driving is concerned. If a chemical test performed on an underage person confirms that there is any alcohol present in their system (and that individual was operating a vehicle at the time), then that driver can and most likely will be charged with violating N.C.G.S.  20-138.3  (Driving by person less than 21 years old after consuming alcohol or drugs, which prohibits a person less than 21 years old to drive a motor vehicle on a highway or public vehicular area while consuming alcohol or at any time while he has remaining in his body any alcohol or controlled substance previously consumed, unless they drive with a controlled substance in his body which was lawfully obtained and taken in therapeutically appropriate amounts.).  If convicted for a DWI, the offender can face imprisonment (up to three years), a fine (of up to $10,000), and a license suspension. Depending on the situation, in addition to being charged with a DWI, the offending minor may also be charged with distributing alcohol to other minors, possession of false identification, and soliciting alcohol, among other charges.

The health effects of drinking at a young age can be severe. The human brain continues to develop into the early 20’s, and human brain-imaging studies have shown that those who drink heavily in their teen years may halt brain development and even cause permanent cognitive defects. Young people who drink are far more likely to do poorly in school as alcohol use can cause lack of focus, trouble with memory, depression, and anxiety. Statistics show that the younger individuals are when they begin drinking, the greater their chances are of having problems with alcohol abuse later in life. Teens that drink alcohol are far more likely to have unprotected sex, increasing the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease and/or becoming the victim or perpetrator of sexual assault. For young women, the risk of becoming pregnant is also more prevalent. Alcohol abuse may even lead teens to experiment with other drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, and heroin.

Recently, the prosecutor’s office in New Hanover and Pender Counties (with offices in Wilmington and Burgaw), raised the consequences for those charged with underage drinking. Offenders may be required to pay fines totaling between $200 and $500 dollars, perform community service, attend DWI Treatment court for no less than 2 hours, complete two alcohol education courses: the Street Safe Teen Alcohol Education Course, and the New Hanover Regional Medical Center Youth Offender Course. Each class costs $75 dollars and takes 2-4 hours to complete. Overall, those charged with underage drinking face expensive and time consuming penalties.

Attorney David Collins has over 20 years of experience in the legal field, and has represented many people charged with underage consumption or possession of alcohol, and many college students or others charged with crimes involving fake IDs.  In most underage drinking cases, with clients with no prior criminal history and without egregious facts, we have been able to have the charges dismissed. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime involving underage consumption or possession of alcohol or a fake ID, call us at (910) 793-9000 for a confidential consultation.

By:  Rebekka Sekeres, Legal Assistant

Cinco de Mayo

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Cinco de Mayo, Spanish for “5th of May,” is a widely-celebrated holiday in the United States. In Mexico, it is considered a minor holiday,  not to be confused with Mexican Independence Day, which happens on the 16th of September. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. The battle was led by Texas-born General Ignacio Zarazoga, who commanded his poorly-supplied and greatly outnumbered Mexican troops against the 6,000-strong French force of General Latrille de Lorencez. Beginning at daybreak on May 5th, 1962, the French army attacked the city of Puebla de Los Angeles. The French forces retreated in the early evening, having lost nearly 500 soldiers, while fewer than 100 Mexicans had been killed in the battle. Although this victory was not a major strategic win in the overall war against the French, the success of the troops at Puebla became a symbol of Mexican resistance to foreign domination. The war would eventually end almost six years later, with support of the United States military and political pressure.

In the United States today, festivities are most prominent in areas with a large Mexican-American population, and, in Mexico, celebrations occur most heavily in the Puebla region. The occasion is marked with parades, mariachi bands, Mexican folk dancing, and, of course, traditional Mexican food and drink in celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. Traditional foods include Mole Poblano, Chalupas, and Chiles en Nogada. Revelers may sip on sangria, margaritas, and Mexican beer, aka cerveza.

While Wilmington festivities will remain tame compared to celebrations in other cities, local restaurants are gearing up for the holiday with food and drink specials to mark the occasion. One local favorite, El Cerro Grande, promises an “epic fiesta” at each of their three locations. Many chain restaurants are also marking the occasion: Taco Bell® will reportedly be giving out free breakfast food, while Moe’s Southwest Grill® will be giving away t-shirts. Restaurant-goers are sure to see specials aplenty on margaritas, tequila, and cervezas; sombreros may or may not be optional.

With alcohol such a big part of many people’s Cinco de Mayo festivities, it’s no surprise that drunk driving is especially high on “Cinco de Mayo”.  At Collins Law Firm, we have over 20 years experience handling DWI/DUI’s and other criminal and traffic matters. If you or someone you know is charged with a crime or gets hurt during the celebration, please call our office at (910) 793-9000 for your confidential consultation.

By Rebekka Sekeres, Legal Assistant at Collins Law Firm