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Collins Law Firm :: Blog

Archive for February, 2021

Relaxing Restrictions

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

Since January of this year, the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19, as well as the number of positive tests have decreased significantly. Additionally, at least 1.2 million North Carolinians have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Today, February 24, 2021, Governor Roy Cooper announced that a few COVID-19 restrictions will be eased, this week. A new executive order is set to go into effect this Friday, February 26, 2021 at 5:00 p.m., and last until March 26, 2021.

The following changes will be put into effect this Friday:

  • Bars may reopen for indoor seating with a 30% capacity or 250 people, whichever is less;
  • The statewide curfew from 10:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. will expire;
  • Social gathering limits will be for 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors;
  • Businesses that were operating at 30% capacity will now have a 250-person maximum;
  • Alcohol can be sold at bars and restaurants until 11:00 p.m.;
  • More spectators will be allowed at high school, college, and professional sports events – the number allowed will depend on venue size;
  • Indoor arenas with a 5,000-person capacity will be able to open with 15% capacity, so long as all safety protocols are followed; and
  • Workers, athletes, entertainers, and staff do not count toward the above capacity limits.

Certain restrictions will remain in place, such as the statewide mask mandate, and the 50% capacity limit for businesses and retailers including restaurants, breweries, wineries, retail stores, gyms, museums, aquariums, barbers and personal care venues, pools and outdoor areas of amusement parks.

This news comes as a small sigh of relief for some small businesses who struggled during the shutdown last year – many of which have not yet been able to recover.

With respect to the vaccine rollout, frontline medical workers, teachers, educators, childcare workers, and people over age 65 are currently eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Group 3, which includes other frontline essential workers, will be eligible to get their first dose as of March 10.

By Karen M. Thompson, Paralegal

Contactless Road Test

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

After the passing of House Bill 158 on June 19, 2020, temporarily waiving the road test requirement for level two limited provisional licenses, North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV) started to offer road tests to teen drivers again.

House Bill 158 did not address 16- or 17-year-olds seeking a full provisional license – Teen Driver Level 3.  In order to advance to Teen Driver Level 3, one needs to pass a road test.   

NCDMV now offers modified contactless road tests at limited locations by appointment for Level 2 drivers that have received a waiver and now need a road test to advance to Level 3, as well for other qualifying reasons such as: 

  • One previously failed a road test and was never retested prior to March 2020;
  • Governed by lawful and or legal presence status (not permanent residence);
  • Driving privileges were suspended when the previous credential expired;

The road tests developed by NCDMV are now contactless and are held in large parking lots.  This way, the license examiner does not need to sit in the car with the driver. However, only 14 out of 115 driver license offices are equipped to offer these contactless road tests. Also, while one can schedule appointments with the NCDMV online, this option does not currently exist for limited provisional licensees wanting to advance to Level 3.   Due to the limited space for contactless road tests, it may take weeks before one can get an appointment.  You may apply for an appointment by contacting NCDMV by phone at (919) 715-7000, or by email via DMVDS@ncdot.gov.  If you email NCDMV in order to apply for a contactless road test, please include your name, county of residence, driver license or permit number, phone number, and the reason qualifying you to take the contactless road test, i.e. level 2 driver wanting to advance, or previously failed road test, etc.

Please make sure to obey by the strict restrictions for your level of teen driving in order to be able to gain the on-the-road experience necessary to drive a vehicle with no supervision and minimal restrictions, and in order to avoid traffic tickets which may be costly.

However, if you find yourself in need of an attorney because were charged with a traffic violation or crime in New Hanover, Pender, or Brunswick Counties, call Collins Law Firm at (910) 793-9000 for a confidential consultation about how we can help you.

By Jana H. Collins

Bad Winter Weather 2021

Friday, February 19th, 2021

Many states in the Midwest, Northeast, and other parts of North America are either under several inches of snow, or are anticipating the same in the near future. Below-normal temperatures, flooding, storms that seem to appear out of nowhere, and power outages have also swept across much of the United States within the past few weeks.

Locally, in Brunswick County, there was a deadly tornado that hit on Monday night, killing three people and injuring ten. According to WECT, it is ideal to have a tornado watch issued hours prior to a storm, in order to warn local citizens that a tornado may be likely in the current conditions. However, for this storm, there was only six minutes between the issuance of the severe thunderstorm warning and the tornado warning. The storm intensified too quickly for Brunswick County Emergency Services to send a timely warning. The Emergency Services Director at the Brunswick County Emergency Services, Edward Conrow, said that he heard the first crack of thunder, and only a few seconds later the tornado touched down. The National Weather Service says the tornado was designated as an EF-3 with estimated wind speeds of about 160 miles per hour (MPH).

The tornado touched down at 2 North Sunset Beach at 11:34 p.m. on Monday night, and dissipated about 22 miles away, at 10 SW Delco in Columbus County by 12:02 a.m. on Tuesday.  In addition to the loss of life the tornado caused, 60 homes were damaged, and over 35,000 people lost power.

There was a community-wide cleanup effort that started before the sun came up on Tuesday, including volunteers from the Red Cross and neighboring communities.

By Karen M. Thompson, Paralegal