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Browsing Post with the Tag: Criminal Defense

NC – Watch Out For Your Pedestrians

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

While preferences vary when it comes to transportation, everyone is a pedestrian at some time, and most know to keep their distance from moving traffic. Unfortunately, according to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 69,000 pedestrians got hurt and 4,432 were killed in traffic crashes in the United States in 2011. This means that on average every two hours a pedestrian was killed and about every eight minutes, a pedestrian got hurt in traffic in 2011.

In North Carolina alone more than 2,400 pedestrians are hit by vehicles each year, about 160 out of this number are killed. This number represents about 12% of all traffic fatalities that occur on North Carolina roads.

While Pedestrians should not rely on their rights in traffic being observed by drivers, drivers need to be aware of pedestrians’ rights and the traffic laws protecting the weakest of our road users, and drivers need to pay attention especially to young children and older adults, because they are more likely to stray outside crosswalks and not pay attention to traffic signals or the traffic in general.

Pedestrians’ rights and duties are addressed in Chapter 20, Article 3, Part 11 of the North Carolina General Statutes (hereinafter N.C.G.S.).

N.C.G.S. § 20-172 Pedestrians subject to traffic-control signals.

(a) The Board of Transportation, with reference to State highways, and local authorities, with reference to highways under their jurisdiction, are hereby authorized to erect or install, at intersections or other appropriate places, special pedestrian control signals exhibiting the words or symbols “WALK” or “DON’T WALK” as a part of a system of traffic-control signals or devices.

(b) Whenever special pedestrian-control signals are in place, such signals shall indicate as follows:

(1) WALK. – Pedestrians facing such signal may proceed across the highway in the direction of the signal and shall be given the right-of-way by the drivers of all vehicles.

(2) DON’T WALK. – No pedestrian shall start to cross the highway in the direction of such signal, but any pedestrian who has partially completed his crossing on the “WALK” signal shall proceed to a sidewalk or safety island while the “DON’T WALK” signal is showing.

(c) Where a system of traffic-control signals or devices does not include special pedestrian-control signals, pedestrians shall be subject to the vehicular traffic-control signals or devices as they apply to pedestrian traffic.

(d) At places without traffic-control signals or devices, pedestrians shall be accorded the privileges and shall be subject to the restrictions stated in Part 11 of this Article.

N.C.G.S. § 20-173 Pedestrians’ right-of-way at crosswalks

(a) Where traffic-control signals are not in place or in operation the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at or near an intersection, except as otherwise provided in Part 11 of this Article.

(b) Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.

(c) The driver of a vehicle emerging from or entering an alley, building entrance, private road, or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian, or person riding a bicycle, approaching on any sidewalk or walkway extending across such alley, building entrance, road, or driveway.

N.C.G.S. § 20-174 Crossing at other than crosswalks; walking along highway

(a) Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

(b) Any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

(c) Between adjacent intersections at which traffic-control signals are in operation pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.

(d) Where sidewalks are provided, it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway. Where sidewalks are not provided, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall, when practicable, walk only on the extreme left of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic which may approach from the opposite direction. Such pedestrian shall yield the right-of-way to approaching traffic.

(e) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway, and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary, and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway.

Failure to obey any these laws is an infraction pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 20-176 (a) and if convicted, punishable to pay a fine of up to one hundred dollars ($100) pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 20-176 (b).

If you or someone you know is charged with an infraction in Southeastern North Carolina, in or around Wilmington, NC in New Hanover County, Brunswick County, or Pender County, and call the experienced team at Collins Law Firm for a confidential consultation at:  910-793-9000910-793-9000 .

By Jana H. Collins, Office Manager

House Bill 637: Decriminalizing Marijuana

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

The U.S. prison population is six to ten times as high as in most Western European nations and many say that this is because of the Unites States War on Drugs. More than 749,000 people were arrested in the United States for marijuana-related offenses alone in the year 2012.

However, while the use, sale, and possession of marijuana in the United States is still illegal, the federal government has declared that a state may pass a law to decriminalize cannabis for recreational use, as long as they have a regulation system in place. Many states have decriminalized the substance to certain degrees, other states have created exemptions specifically for medical marijuana, and some have done both. Colorado and Washington are two states that have legalized the recreational use of cannabis following the approval of state referendum in the 2012 elections.

In April 2013, North Carolina State Representative Kelly Alexander, who earlier in 2013 pushed unsuccessfully for medical marijuana, introduced a new bill: House Bill 637. Alexander has said that it would bring North Carolina in line with a number of other states; but marijuana decriminalization bills have not fared too well in North Carolina in the past.  House Bill 637 is a part of North Carolina’s Marijuana Policy Project and has passed its first reading and is now set to be heard by the state Judiciary Committee which will carry over from 2013 to 2014 when the legislature reconvenes.

Currently in North Carolina, the law is that it is a crime to knowingly or intentionally possess marijuana (including small amounts for personal use). Penalties vary according to the amount possessed. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 90-95.) The penalties include:

•                         Up to one half of an ounce – a fine of up to $200, up to 30 days in jail, or both.

•                         Between one half ounce and one and a half ounces – a fine of up to $500, between one and 120 days in jail, or both. The judge may order probation or community service in addition to, or  in lieu of some or all of the jail time.

•                         One-and-a-half ounces or more – a fine of $500 or more, up to one year in jail, or both.

It will also be a criminal conviction on a person’s record.

Under House Bill 637, being charged with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana would only be considered a civil infraction with a fine – no longer would a sentencing history nor a criminal record interfere with one’s forthcoming in life. This bill would also allow past offenders to be able to have their records expunged.

Many North Carolina residents are in favor of the proposed bill and hope that it will get passed. A Public Policy Poll taken in March, 2013 indicated that 56 percent of those surveyed in North Carolina think the penalty for possessing small amounts of marijuana should be decriminalized.

For the sake of patients, North Carolina lawmakers should at least consider to study medical marijuana as suggested by another bill introduced by Republican Alexander on April 11, 2014 – bill H941 – A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT REQUIRING THE LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH COMMISSION TO STUDY ISSUES RELATED TO THE MEDICAL USE OF CANNABIS.

At Collins Law Firm we handle marijuana related and other drug charges in New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender County, and we have successfully defended clients charged with all types of drug and alcohol offenses. The experienced and compassionate team at Collins Law Firm is here for you – just a phone call away at 910-793-9000.

By Rachel R. Reynolds, Paralegal at Collins Law Firm

Heroin on the Rise

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Heroin is a highly physiologically addictive narcotic derivative of morphine but has a higher potency than morphine. C.R. Alder Wright – an English chemistry and physics researcher in London – was the first to synthesize heroin in 1847. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder or as a black sticky substance, known as “black tar heroin.” The name Heroin stems from Bayer, the German Pharmaceutical Company. Bayer named the first diamorphine product Heroin and made its first fortunes in the late 1890s when it commercialized heroin as cough, cold and pain remedy.

The medical use of heroin is prohibited in the United States, because its unwanted effects, i.e. miscarriages, heart infections, and death exceed its values. Heroin however is used illicitly for its euphoric effects and its use is on the rise nationwide.

In the eastern part of North Carolina, law enforcement officials report that the use of heroin, especially amongst high school students, has increased immensely as it has not been seen in decades. For example, while the Police Department of Wilmington, NC, had 12 people arrested for carrying heroin in 2003, the number was almost twenty times as high in 2013 with 214 arrests.

The surge of heroin use appears to be the unintended side effect of the crackdown on the abuse of prescription drugs. While the crackdown on the prescription drug abuse resulted in a decrease of the illegal use of prescription drugs, it also caused some medications to become less available and thereby less affordable. Instead, many turned to a less pricy solution to get euphorically high – heroin.

Even though the use of heroin is at a historic high, experts predict that it has not yet reached the top as addicts are still to some degree able to obtain prescription drugs.

As heroin use may become more prominent in the nearer future, more people may get into a situation in which they may witness a drug related overdose that requires medical assistance. In such situations, limited immunity is extended to those, who seek medical assistance pursuant to N.C.G.S. §90-96.2.

As a heroin user, one does not only face medical and economic, but also legal consequences. Heroin is a Schedule II Controlled Substance pursuant to N.C.G.S. §90-90 (1) and its possession is punishable as a Class I felony pursuant to N.C.G.S. §90-95(a)(3). The sale of heroin is punishable as a Class G felony and the delivery or manufacture is punishable as a Class H felony pursuant to N.C.G.S. §90-95(a)(1).

If convicted of any of those charges, possible consequences are:

– Fines

– Jail or prison time

– Drug treatment/counseling

– Probation

– Difficult bread-winning

– Social stigma

– Permanent criminal record

If you or somebody you know are investigated or have been arrested or charged with a drug crime, you should seek legal counsel to examine all evidence and advise you as to whether accepting a plea deal or going to trial would be in your best interest.

If accepting a plea deal, participation in the Drug Treatment Court (hereinafter DTC) may be considered which is an intensive, highly structured program designed to identify and treat offenders whose criminal activities are generally related to substance abuse offered in 23 counties in North Carolina. Amongst those 23 counties are New Hanover and Brunswick County. In order to qualify for the participation in the DTC, the offender must:

  • be addicted to a chemical substance,
  • be willing to volunteer for the drug treatment court program, and
  • be eligible under the state’s structured sentencing system for a community or intermediate punishment as an alternative to active prison time.

The mission of the DTC is to break the cycle of drug addiction by offering the tools to stay clean. Amongst others, those tools include counseling, housing, school, and employment assistance.

At Collins Law Firm we handle drug charges in New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender County, and we have successfully defended clients against all types of drug crimes. The experienced team at Collins Law Firm is here for you – just a phone call away at 910-793-9000910-793-9000 .

By Jana H. Collins, Office Manager

DWS – Driving While Stoned

Monday, March 17th, 2014

The New York Times recently published a story entitled “Driving Under the Influence, of Marijuana.” The story suggested that driving under the influence of marijuana (pot) is much less risky than driving while impaired by alcohol.  The report also indicated that it is difficult to detect impairment by pot with the standardized field sobriety tests used in DWI by alcohol cases, and it is difficult to confirm impairment with laboratory tests.  The article discusses several studies making these findings and noted the conclusion of some experts that public resources would be better spent combating alcohol-impaired driving, including perhaps lowering the per se threshold for alcohol concentrations to 0.05,  than in establishing a per se limit for blood-THC content or devising roadside tests to detect for marijuana impairment.

Marijuana impairment is harder to detect because THC – the ingredient that gives marijuana its psychoactive effect –  can take as long as four hours for the THC metabolites to appear in the body after smoking pot, and chemical test can still yield a positive result for pot metabolites for weeks after a person last smoked pot.  A publication by the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA) regarding marijuana states that it positive tests can occur long after the window of intoxication and impairment has passed because concentrations of THC in a person’s blood depend in part upon the pattern of marijuana use, it is difficult to establish a relationship between a specified blood concentration and performance impairing effects.  The article in the Times stated that people who smoked marijuana on a frequent basis may have a blood-THC content that exceeds the limits set in Washington and Colorado for THC concentration more than 24 hours after they last smoked pot.

Marilyn A. Huestis, a senior investigator at the National Institute on Drug Abuse said that “our goal is to put out the science and have it used for evidence-based drug policy . . . but I think it’s a mishmash.”  The article cited a 2007 study which found that 12 percent of the drivers randomly stopped on American highways on Friday and Saturday nights had been drinking. (In return for taking part in the study, intoxicated drivers were told they would not be arrested, just taken home.)  It also reported that six percent of the drivers tested positive for marijuana — a number that is likely to go up with increased availability, and added that some experts and officials are concerned that the campaign against drunken driving has not gotten through to marijuana smokers.

The Times article stated that Glenn Davis, highway safety manager at the Department of Transportation in Colorado said that they have done surveys which indicated that a lot of people think D.W.I. laws don’t apply to marijuana.  He added that “there is always somebody who says, ‘I drive better while high.’”  Other evidence suggests that is not the case, but  also suggests that we may not have as much to fear from stoned driving as from drunken driving. Some researchers say that stoned driving, is simply less dangerous than drunk driving because marijuana and alcohol have different physiology. Drivers impaired by alcohol tend to overestimate their skills and drive faster.  Drivers impaired by marijuana do the opposite.  A professor interviewed by the author of the Times article noted the old joke about “‘Creech and Chong being arrested for doing 20 on the freeway.’” The article also said that studies estimate that drivers who are stoned are twice as likely to crash compared with a driver who has a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent is almost 20 times more likely to be in a fatal accident than a sober driver.

Driving while appreciably impaired by any impairing substance is illegal in North Carolina.  But for the reasons mentioned in the Times article, driving while impaired by pot could be a difficult case for the a prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.  The times article discussed the debate about how best to prove that drivers under the influence of THC are too intoxicated to drive. Blood-alcohol content (BAC) can be tested on the side of the road with a hand held alcosensor, and a multitude of studies link increased levels of blood alcohol to decreased driving skills. But not so for pot.  THC levels can only be measured by blood or urine samples.  Urine tests look for metabolites of THC rather than the pot itself, and can return positive results many days or weeks after someone smoked pot.  Some states have laws that prohibit any detectable level of THC metabolite in urine or blood, and criminalize both.  The article said that only six states have set legal limits for THC concentration in the blood, and that in Colorado and Washington state the limit is five nanograms per milliliter of blood, or five parts per billion.

Underage Drinking Prohibited, Except…

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

With two colleges located in Wilmington, North Carolina (University of North Carolina- Wilmington and Cape Fear Community College) it is safe to consider Wilmington, NC a college town; which makes it the perfect town for nightclubs and beach bars. The allure to drink alcohol can be quite strong in a college atmosphere, yet many of the students located here are under the legal drinking age of 21.

In North Carolina, laws concerning the sale, possession, and consumption of alcoholic beverages are contained in N.C.G.S. Chapter 18B, Article 3 (§ 18B-300 to §§ 18B-310 through 18B-399).

· If you are less than 19 years of age and convicted of drinking, which is a Class 1 Misdemeanor, your punishment can include a fine in the discretion of the judge, community service hours and a $250 fee or jail, plus court costs of currently $180.

· If you are 19 or 20 years of age and convicted of drinking, which is a Class 3 Misdemeanor, you punishment can include a fine of up to $200 and community service hours and a $250 fee or jail, plus court costs of currently $180

· If you are under the age of and convicted of purchasing or attempting to purchase alcoholic beverages, a Class 1 misdemeanor, your punishment can include Community service hours and a $250 fee or jail time, court cost of currently $180, and a fine is discretion of the judge. In addition, your driver license will be suspended for one year and you will not be able to obtain a limited driving privilege.

While our underage drinking laws are stricter than those in some other states, North Carolina recognizes three exceptions to the general rule prohibiting minors from possessing or consuming alcohol.

  • Religious participation. A minor may possess and consume wine for sacramental purposes in an organized church. (North Carolina Gen. Stat. Ann. Section 18B-103(8).)
  • Employment. Minors may possess, transport, or dispense—but not consume—alcohol during the course of employment in an establishment licensed to sell alcohol. Such employment must also be lawful under North Carolina’s youth employment statutes. (North Carolina Gen. Stat. Ann. Section 18B-302(h).)
  • Education. Minors may possess and consume alcohol under the direct supervision of an instructor, during the course of a licensed and accredited culinary program, when such consumption is a required part of the curriculum. (North Carolina Gen. Stat. Ann. Section 18B-103(11).)

Collins Law Firm has represented thousands of people charged with crimes or infractions, and many involving crimes involving violating the laws regarding the sale, possession, and consumption of alcohol or underage consumption or possession of alcohol.  In many cases, especially for first time offenders, we have been able to avoid convictions.  Currently, in most cases for first time offenders, even if there is no solid defense, we are able to negotiate an agreement with law enforcement officer and the district attorney’s office to have the charges dismissed pursuant to a deferred prosecution after the defendant completes a certain number of hours of volunteer service, or completing a class about alcohol and the laws regarding alcohol, or completing other conditions for dismissal, or a combination thereof.  In some cases where there is a solid defense, we are able to have the charges dismissed without our clients having to perform any community service or complete classes.

If you or someone you know have been charged with any crime in Southeastern North Carolina, in or around Wilmington NC in New Hanover County, Brunswick County, or Pender County, and need a lawyer or attorney to represent you, call us for a confidential consultation at  910-793-9000.

By Rachel Reynolds, Legal Assistant, Collins Law Firm

2013 Thanksgiving Travel

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Year after year during the Thanksgiving holiday period we experience one of the most travel heavy times of the year.  This year a large storm threatens our Thanksgiving holiday travel and may require a lot of patience while on the roads.

This year, the North Carolina Highway Patrol along with numerous state police agencies will be patrolling along the I-40 corridor in an attempt to ensure a safe and uneventful driving environment through constant visibility.

In addition to the presence of law enforcement, motorists are urged to inform the State Highway Patrol at *Hp or at *47 of any careless or reckless driving they may observe.

Also, law enforcement all over North Carolina launched the Thanksgiving “Click it or Ticket” campaign, which will last through Sunday, December 1, 2013 in order to crack down on drivers who do not wear their seat belts.

While during last year’s Thanksgiving holiday, 11 fatal crashes and 432 injury collisions occurred, our law enforcement is hopeful to save lives and prevent injuries.

Spend this Thanksgiving holiday with your friends and or family, enjoy your turkey and pumpkin pie, and have a few drinks if you wish, but please, be patient in this holiday traffic and if you drink, do not drive – take a cab or have a designated driver.

Remember, should you receive a traffic ticket, get into a fender bender, serious accident, or receive a DUI/DWI this Thanksgiving holiday, call us at (910) 793-9000(910) 793-9000 .

By Jana Collins

Fake ID and DL Suspension

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Southeastern North Carolina is an attractive area for young people to attend school either at UNCW or Cape Fear Community College.  Of course, the same young people also enjoy to live, work, play, and party for which our beaches and downtown areas provide a wide array of opportunities. However, much of the nightlife requires patrons to be 21 years of age.   For this reason, many youngsters either purchase fake IDs online or look to friends who are of age to use their IDs.

They do not realize that getting caught with a fake ID has serious consequences. The possession of a false identification or a fake ID alone warrants prosecution. Nonetheless, the original owner of the ID faces criminal liability as well.  If convicted of an offense involving a fake ID, N.C.G.S.§ 20-16(a)(6) provides that, one faces a mandatory suspension of their license by the Division of Motor Vehicles. In such reinstatement of one license or the issuance of a limited driving privilege or hardship license before the end of the mandatory suspension period is prohibited.

Attorney David Collins has almost 20 years of experience and represented countless minors, college students or others charged with a crimes involving  fake IDs successfully. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime involving a fake ID, call (910) 793-9000(910) 793-9000 for a confidential consultation.

By Courtney Hull, Intern at Collins Law Firm

Buckle-Up Kids In North Carolina

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among those age 5-34 in the U.S. More than 2.3 million drivers and passengers were treated in emergency departments as the result of being injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2009. Seat belt use and proper child restraint are the most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes, yet millions of adults do not wear their seat belts and fail to properly secure their children on every car ride. Many of these deaths and injuries can be prevented.  Placing children in age- and size-appropriate car seats and booster seats reduces serious and fatal injuries by more than half.

According to North Carolina General Statute § 20-137.1 (Child restraint systems required)

(a) Every driver who is transporting one or more passengers of less than 16 years of age shall have all such passengers properly secured in a child passenger restraint system or seat belt which meets federal standards applicable at the time of its manufacture.
(a1) A child less than eight years of age and less than 80 pounds in weight shall be properly secured in a weight-appropriate child passenger restraint system. In vehicles equipped with an active passenger-side front air bag, if the vehicle has a rear seat, a child less than five years of age and less than 40 pounds in weight shall be properly secured in a rear seat, unless the child restraint system is designed for use with air bags. If no seating position equipped with a lap and shoulder belt to properly secure the weight-appropriate child passenger restraint system is available, a child less than eight years of age and between 40 and 80 pounds may be restrained by a properly fitted lap belt only.

A violation of this section shall have all of the following consequences:

(1) Two drivers license points shall be assessed pursuant to G.S. § 20-16.
(2) No insurance points shall be assessed.
(3) The violation shall not constitute negligence per se or contributory negligence per se.

For maximum safety and to avoid being charged with failing to restrain a child, follow these recommendations provided by www.buckleupnc.org:
•    Use rear facing child restraints as long as possible, but at least until age two. Most models can and should be used up to at least 30 pounds.
•    Once a child is turned to face the front of the car, use a child restraint with a harness until the harness is outgrown, from 40-80 pounds, depending on the model.
•    Use seatbelts for older children only when they are large enough for both the lap and shoulder belt to fit correctly.
•    Use a seatbelt on every car trip to set a good example for your children.

If you have been charged for failing to restrain a child, for a seatbelt violation  or if you have legal concerns about any area of law in which we practice, contact us at (910) 793-9000(910) 793-9000 for a confidential legal consultation.

By Lauren Seidel, Paralegal

Holiday Season – Booze It & Lose It

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

The holiday season is in full swing and so is the North Carolina “Booze It & Lose It” Campaign, created by State Transportation Secretary Gene Conti in an effort to remove impaired drivers from the road and keep our citizens safe. Checkpoints and increased patrol began on December 6th and will continue through January 2, 2013, to help reduce the rising number of alcohol related crashes, injuries and fatalities state wide.

Driving while under the influence is a violation of North Carolina General Statute § 20-138.1

N.C.G.S. § 20-138.1.  Impaired driving.
(a)        Offense. – A person commits the offense of impaired driving if he drives any vehicle upon any highway, any street, or any public vehicular area within this State:
(1)        While under the influence of an impairing substance; or
(2)        After having consumed sufficient alcohol that he has, at any relevant time after the driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. The results of a chemical analysis shall be deemed sufficient evidence to prove a person’s alcohol concentration; or
(3)        With any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance, as listed in G.S. 90-89, or its metabolites in his blood or urine.
(a1)      A person who has submitted to a chemical analysis of a blood sample, pursuant to G.S. 20-139.1(d), may use the result in rebuttal as evidence that the person did not have, at a relevant time after driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.

Last year, 3,600 North Carolina Drivers were charged with DUI / DWI during the month long holiday campaign and that number is expected to increase this year. Not only does drinking and driving put you at risk of getting arrested at a checkpoint or during a traffic stop, it puts your life and the lives of others in danger.  In fact, drunk drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08, the legal limit, are 11 times more likely than a sober driver to be in a motor vehicle accident. This likelihood increases with the increase of the BAC level.  With odds like that, why risk it?

In 2011, there were more than 950 alcohol related crashes in North Carolina during the “Booze It & Lose It” Campaign spanning from December 3rd – January 3rd. Those 950 crashes resulted in 44 fatalities and 702 injuries- some of which were innocent victims and not the drunk driver themselves.

If you find yourself questioning weather you had too much eggnog at your office holiday party, don’t risk getting arrested or worse, endangering your life or the lives of others. Play it safe and call a cab or have a sober friend take you home.  If you or someone you know have any legal needs this holiday season call Collins Law Firm at (910) 793- 9000(910) 793- 9000.

By Lauren Seidel, Paralegal

Texting While Driving

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Over the past twenty years, cell phones have become an essential part of day to day life for many Americans. Cell phones continue to provide us with the convenience to communicate while on the go, comfort in knowing we have a way to call for help in case of an emergency, and access to music, games and entertainment.  Cell phones can make life easier, but when used irresponsibly, can have disastrous consequences.

Answering a text takes away your attention for about five second. That is enough time to travel the length of a football field. We know it is dangerous, but many of us continue to send or receive text messages while driving thinking that nothing will happen to them. But according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, text messaging while driving makes a car crash 23 times more likely and 1.3 million auto collisions involved cell phones last year.

Unfortunately, about 6,000 deaths and about 500,000 injuries are caused by distracted drivers every year.  In response to the rapid increase in texting while driving fatalities, 39 states, including North Carolina have passed laws prohibiting all drivers from texting while driving. Texting while driving is a violation of the North Carolina General Statute §20-137.4A.

N.C.G.S. §20-137.4A Unlawful use of mobile telephone for text messaging or electronic mail
(a) Offense. – It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a vehicle on a public street or highway or public vehicular area while using a mobile telephone to:
(1) Manually enter multiple letters or text in the device as a means of communicating with another person; or
(2) Read any electronic mail or text message transmitted to the device or stored within the device, provided that this prohibition shall not apply to any name or number stored in the device nor to any caller identification information.
(b) Exceptions. – The provisions of this section shall not apply to:
(1) The operator of a vehicle that is lawfully parked or stopped.
(2) Any of the following while in the performance of their official duties: a law enforcement officer; a member of a fire department; or the operator of a public or private ambulance.
(3) The use of factory-installed or aftermarket global positioning systems (GPS) or wireless communications devices used to transmit or receive data as part of a digital dispatch system.
(4) The use of voice operated technology.
(c) Penalty. – A violation of this section while operating a school bus, as defined in G.S. 20-137.4(a)(4), shall be a Class 2 misdemeanor and shall be punishable by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100.00). Any other violation of this section shall be an infraction and shall be punishable by a fine of one hundred dollars ($100.00) and the costs of court.

A texting while driving charge will not cause you to receive any drivers license points or insurance surcharges, however the charge will appear on your North Carolina DMV record unless you are able to have the charge dismissed. If you or someone you know has received a ticket for texting while driving, call Collins Law Firm for a free consultation at 910-793-9000910-793-9000.

By Lauren Seidel, Paralegal