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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

Road Rules to Remember During Thanksgiving Travel

Monday, November 24th, 2014

With an improved economy and gas prices at a five year low, we will experience an increase in Thanksgiving travel this year.  AAA Carolinas expects the increase to be of more than 4 percent compared to Thanksgiving of 2013.

Travel however will be impacted by a major winter storm which will initially spread heavy rain and embedded thunderstorms across the Florida peninsula but will move north and northeast, paralleling the east coast beginning Tuesday night.

Therefore, in order to ensure safe travel, we should be aware of the road rules.  Besides the requirements to follow the speed limit, wear your seatbelt, and burn your headlights, there are some more rules which appear not to be known so well:

  • The Fender Bender Law

Pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 20-161 motorists are required to move their vehicles to the shoulder of the road following a minor, non-injury crash.  The failure to do so could result in a $110 fine and court costs.

  • The Move over Law

Pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 20-157 motorists are required to:

  • Move the vehicle into a lane that is not the lane nearest the parked or standing authorized emergency vehicle or public service vehicle and continue traveling in that lane until it is safe to clear the authorized emergency vehicle. This paragraph applies only if the roadway has at least two lanes for traffic proceeding in the direction of the approaching vehicle and if the approaching vehicle may change lanes safely and without interfering with any vehicular traffic.
  • Slow the vehicle, maintaining a safe speed for traffic conditions, and operate the vehicle at a reduced speed and be prepared to stop until completely past the authorized emergency vehicle or public service vehicle. This paragraph applies only if the roadway has only one lane for traffic proceeding in the direction of the approaching vehicle or if the approaching vehicle may not change lanes safely and without interfering with any vehicular traffic.

A failure to obey by this law could result in a $500 fine.

  • The Keep Right  Law

Pursuant to N.C.G.S. §20-146(b) vehicles traveling a multi-lane roadway at less than the legal maximum speed limit shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for thru traffic, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the highway, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn.  A violation of this law is an infraction pursuant to N.C.G.S. §20-176 (a) and if convicted, North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicle would assess 2 driver’s license points pursuant to N.C.G.S. §20-16 (c), or 3 driver’s license points if the violation occurred during the operation of a commercial motor vehicle.

  • Cellphone Use by Drivers Younger than 18

Pursuant to N.C.G.S. §20-11 drivers under the age of 18 may not use a cellphone when operating a motor vehicle except in case of an emergency to call 9-1-1.  Violators may have to pay a $25 fine.

  • Texting While Driving

Pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 20-137.4A motorists are prohibited from using their mobile telephone for text messaging or electronic mail.  A violation of this law may result in a $100 fine.

We wish you all safe travel and Happy Thanksgiving!

However, should you or someone you know receive a citation for a traffic violation in Southeastern North Carolina, in or around Wilmington, NC in New Hanover County, Brunswick County, or Pender County, contact Collins Law Firm at 910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation.

By Jana Collins

Improper Equipment vs. PJC and more

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

A traffic ticket can cause a lot of headache.  It starts with embarrassment when the blue lights come up in your rear view mirror and when you have to sit on the side of the road while the officer investigates and issues your ticket and it continues far beyond.  If you receive a traffic ticket, you should consult with an attorney on how to best handle your ticket.

After consulting with an attorney you may come to the crossroads where you have to choose to have your speeding ticket reduced to an Improper Equipment or to request a Prayer for Judgment Continued (PJC).

An improper equipment is a non-moving violation that carries no points with the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicle (NC DMV) and no insurance points.

It is possible to be charged with Improper Equipment, if there is actually something wrong with your vehicle.  Upon proof of the underlying deficiency of your vehicle being repaired, most Improper Equipment charges result in a dismissal.

A plea of responsible to operation of a vehicle with improper equipment in violation of N.C.G.S. §20-123.2 does not mean that there was something wrong with your vehicle, the North Carolina legislature specifically addressed the issue of improper equipment plea negotiations by making it a lesser included offense for most speeding violations N.C.G.S. §20-141 (o).  Pursuant to N.C.G.S. §20-141 (o) (2) however, an Improper Equipment plea shall not apply to charges of speeding in excess of 25 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit.  Pursuant to N.C.G.S. §7A-304 (a) (4b) a defendant must pay an additional amount of $50 for all offenses arising under Chapter 20 of the General Statutes and resulting in a conviction of an improper equipment offense.

In some counties, such as New Hanover and Pender County, you are generally not allowed to get a Chapter 20 offense amended to an improper equipment more than once within a three year period without prior completion of a safe driving class.  If a defendant however already received an improper equipment plea and also already attended a safe driving class or if the defendant does not want to attend a safe driving class, then different options can be explored.  One of these options only applicable to speeding charges is a reduction of the speed, most commonly a reduction to less than ten over the posted speed limit. While a reduction to less than ten over the posted speed limit will appear on your driving record, it should not affect your North Carolina insurance premiums as long as the violation did not occur in a school zone or there is not another traffic moving violation within a three year period.

Another option of disposing of a traffic ticket pursuant to N.C.G.S. §15A-1381 (9) is a Prayer for Judgment Continued, or PJC – an entry of a plea of guilty or no contest pursuant to G.S. 15A-1011, without regard to the sentence imposed upon the plea. The PJC is unique to North Carolina Law.  If the PJC is granted, the offense is not entered against the defendant and no fines are assessed in addition to the court costs.  However, pursuant to N.C.G.S. §20-141 (p) a driver charged with speeding in excess of 25 miles per hour over the posted speed limit is not eligible for a PJC.  Also, defenders who hold an active Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) or who were driving a commercial vehicle when they were charged, cannot receive a PJC without it effecting their driving record because NC DMV does not recognized a PJC in such instances and would record a conviction of the underlying charge instead.

Both the NC DMV and Insurance Companies have their own policies regarding PJCs. Currently, the NC DMV will recognize two PJCs per driver every 5 years. If you plead guilty and are granted a third PJC within that 5 year period, DMV will not recognize it and the underlying conviction will affect you just like any other guilty plea. Also, Insurance Companies will recognize only one PJC every 3 years per household – a second PJC per household may cause insurance points to be charged according to the underlying conviction.

We generally advise our clients to save their PJCs. However, each defense in traffic matters is unique and needs to be analyzed to determine what the best possible disposition would be.

If you or someone you know is received a traffic ticket in Southeastern North Carolina, then call the experienced team at Collins Law Firm for a confidential consultation at:  910-793-9000.

By Jana H. Collins

United States in the World Cup

Monday, June 30th, 2014

“USA, USA, USA” can be chanted now that the United States has advanced onto the Knockout Round in the World Cup 2014, being held in Brazil. Even though this is a positive advancement for the United States, it did not come easily after losing to Germany 1-0 on Thursday, June 26th, 2014. It was thanks to Portugal defeating Ghana 2-1 that allowed the United States to hold on to their second place standing.  This in itself is a great accomplishment for the United States, as they were ranked 14th in the World by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) when they  entered the World Cup, and we were also placed in the “Group of Death”, facing very difficult teams including Ghana, Portugal, and Germany.

Although, now that the United States is in the Knockout Round we will begin to see new teams and our next game will take place on Tuesday in Salvador at 1pm against Group H winner Belgium.

While the World Cup, historically, has not been the United States better event – the fact that we have fought this hard and made it this far has definitely ignited some American pride. In Wilmington, many restaurants and bars are opening up earlier so patrons can watch the games and support our team, showing our American pride throughout the town.

Also, while drinking is very popular for watching sporting events, like the World Cup, we urge you to stay responsible during this time. If you are out watching the games and drinking, make sure you are of the legal age to drink and have a designated driver to take you home or your could suffer severe legal ramifications. So if you or someone you know is charged with an alcohol related charge in Southeastern North Carolina, in or around Wilmington, NC in New Hanover County, Brunswick County, or Pender County, then be sure to call the experienced team at Collins Law Firm for a confidential consultation at:  910-793-9000.
By Rachel R. Reynolds,  Paralegal at Collins Law Firm

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

NC Keep Right

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Driving slowly in the left hand lane is not just a pet peeve, but causes a hazard by negatively impacting the flow of traffic.

This forces faster moving traffic to pass in the right hand lane. Drivers hoping to pass a slow left hand lane driver often signal a lane change toward the center median, flash headlights, or drive very close to the bumper to the slow left hand lane driver, which is known as tailgating.

The left hand lane which is also referred to as the fast lane, inside lane, or passing lane is reserved for faster moving vehicles wishing to pass or overtake. The United States Uniform Vehicle Code states the following: “Upon all roadways any vehicle proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic.”

Some states, including North Carolina, have made it illegal to drive slowly in the left hand lane and fail to yield to traffic that seeks to overtake.

In North Carolina, travel on a multi-lane roadway is governed by N.C.G.S. §20-146(b):

Upon all highways any vehicle proceeding at less than the legal maximum speed limit shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for thru traffic, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the highway, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn.

A violation of this law is an infraction pursuant to N.C.G.S. §20-176 (a) and if convicted, North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicle would assess 2 drivers license points pursuant to N.C.G.S. §20-16 (c), or 3drivers license points if the violation occurred during the operation of a commercial motor vehicle.

Most of the laws prohibiting driving slowly in the left hand lane however seem to only be enforced to stop suspicious vehicles or passengers.

Generally, one should always be aware of their surroundings especially while driving and move lanes if they find themselves holding up traffic – the choice to travel in the right hand lane should be made already out of consideration for other travelers, to increase traffic safety, to reduce traffic congestion, and to improve emergency response.

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

Commercial Driver’s License

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is a special driver’s license for those wishing to drive larger vehicles. Every driver is required to hold a CDL to legally operate any vehicle that meets

one or more of these conditions:

– has a gross vehicle weight rating or combination GVWR greater than 26,000 pounds;

– is designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver; and/or

– is transporting a hazardous material or cargo that requires placards.

Possession of a CDL is considered a privilege for drivers and it requires those drivers to abide by other rules in addition to the normal traffic regulations. These include certain violations committed in a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) and those committed in their personal vehicle. Violations to these rules can generally cause a suspension or revocation of your CDL privileges.

A major driving violation that will significantly effect your CDL is Driving While Impaired and other alcohol related offenses

Driving While Impaired (DWI): For commercial drivers in North Carolina, it is illegal to operate any commercial vehicle while under the influence of an impairing substance or with blood-alcohol concentration of .04 percent or higher. DWI is a criminal offense resulting

in a loss of driving privileges for one year following the first conviction and lifetime driver license revocation upon the second conviction, plus court fees (N.C. General Statute 138.1).

NCGS 20-138.2. Impaired driving in commercial vehicle:

(a) Offense — A person commits the offense of impaired driving in a commercial motor vehicle if he drives a commercial motor vehicle upon any highway, any street, or any public vehicular area within the 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 0.04 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 NCGS 90-89, or its metabolites in the driver’s blood or urine.

Some others include:

  • Driving While Impaired (BAC of 0.06) in a Commercial Motor Vehicle
  • Driving While Impaired (BAC of 0.04 or 0.05) in a CMV
  • Leaving the scene of an accident involving a CMV you were driving
  • Using a CMV to commit a felony
  • Vehicular manslaughter offense occurring while operating a CMV
  • Driving a CMV during a period your CDL was revoked, suspended, cancelled, or disqualified

A second conviction of any of these offenses will result in a lifetime suspension of your CDL and if any of these offenses occur while you are driving a CMV that is placarded for hazardous materials, your CDL will be disqualified for a minimum of three (3) year.

If you use a CMV to commit a felony involving controlled substances your CDL will be disqualified for life.

A person can also be suspended from driving a CMV for 60 days if you are convicted of two “serious traffic violations” within a three-year period and for no less than 120 days if convicted of three or more serious traffic violations. Some examples of serious traffic violations are:

  • Excessive speeding (15mph or more above posted speed limit)
  • Reckless driving
  • Following too close
  • Erratic lane changes
  • Traffic offenses committed in a CMV in connection with fatal traffic accidents
  • Driving a CMV without obtaining a CDL
  • Driving a CMV without having your CDL in your possession

These traffic violations also carry a heavier point system when dealing with a CDL. For example, if a person with a regular license is convicted of Reckless Driving then they will receive 4 DMV points, however if a person with a CDL is convicted of Reckless Driving then they will receive 5 DMV points.

Another important fact to note is that if you carry a CDL and you are charged with a serious violation in your own personal vehicle (non-CMV), it still may affect your CDL if convicted. So, if you or someone you know has been charged with a violation while possessing a CDL, or was charged while driving a CMV, then please call Collins Law Firm at 910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation.


By Rachel R. Reynolds

Snow Days

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

”Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow” is the chant all the New Hanover County kids are chanting this morning as they await their winter wonderland. In anticipation of inclement weather New Hanover, Pender, Brunswick, Columbus, Bladen, and other surrounding counties have all cancelled school today and will probably do the same for tomorrow. In addition to schools being cancelled, many courts are closed as well.

While hopes are to get the fun and exciting snow, for now it seems that it is just a lot of sleet and ice. This can cause for slick and dangerous roads, especially for those who are not familiar with driving in these types of conditions. A good rule of thumb is to just stay off the roads, however if you must go out driving here are a few tips for safe driving:

1. Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop

2. When braking, brake gently to avoid skidding and if your wheels start to lock up then ease off the break.

3. Turn your lights on to increase your visibility to other motorists.

4. Keep your lights and windshield clean.

5. Use lower gears to keep traction, especially on hills.

6. Don’t use cruise control or overdrive

7. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.

Be careful on the roads and avoid any unnecessary trips out of the house, yet if you or someone you know finds yourself in an accident or with a citation during this arctic takeover, then please contact us at Collins Law Firm at 910-793-9000910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation.

By Rachel Reynolds, Paralegal at Collins Law Firm