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Browsing Post with the Tag: News

Mandatory Water Restrictions

Friday, October 21st, 2016

waterdrop_003_2Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender counties are all experiencing mandatory water restrictions that were put into place on October 13th due to a pipe break in Riegelwood. The Lower Cape Fear Water and Sewer Authority’s pipe supplies water to utilities to all three of these counties. This pipe break is affecting areas such as Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Leland, Wilmington, etc.

The break in the 48-inch pipe is nearly the size of a football and that break alone is causing 12.5 million gallons of raw water to spill through it daily.

One of the main reasons that Brunswick County has declared a state of emergency and is pleading with public water customers to reduce water usage is to be sure there is enough water for emergency needs such as firefighting efforts and hospital uses.

Here are a few tips on how to help conserve water:

  • Limit your shower time
  • Turn off water when not directly using while brushing teeth, washing hands, washing dishes, etc.
  • Only run dishwashers or washing machines when you have a completely full load
  • Limit the number of times you flush the toilet daily

The water flow from Kings Bluff Pump has been cut in half by the break, going from about 24 million gallons of water flow a day to nearly 12 million gallons of water a day. A temporary patch would be ideal in this situation, but they were not able to successfully patch it when attempting to on Wednesday morning.

Since the patch was unsuccessful, crews began constructing a temporary bypass on Thursday morning so that water would go around the break and allow it to keep flowing until the break itself is repaired. This project is expected to be completed sometime next week. The main delay in this repair is that the surrounding counties do not have parts that this break is requiring to fix, so they are waiting on parts to be flown in from other parts of the country.

Car washes have made attempts to save water by reducing their number of open hours each day and the city of Wilmington is holding back on street sweeping and power washing in some areas until the pipe is repaired. If you do see areas throughout the city using their irrigation systems still during this mandatory water restriction, it may be because their water comes from a pond.

Brunswick County Emergency Services are preparing for the worst and are there to help you if needed. They have 480,000 gallons of bottled water on hand, which is equivalent to four days worth of water for residents. Please be safe and make sure you follow all mandatory water restrictions in your area!


By Kimberlin S. Murray, Legal Assistant at Collins Law Firm

Hurricane Matthew

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

max_web_trop_atl14_swath_1280x720North Carolina residents have been keeping a close eye on Hurricane Matthew this past week.  On Monday, Governor Pat McCrory issued a state of emergency for 66 North Carolina counties, including New Hanover County, Brunswick County, and Pender County.  This hurricane was supposed to directly hit the coast, but the latest forecast track shows that this powerful storm is expected to make a sharp turn to the east as it nears the North Carolina Coast. This sharp turn is caused by an upper level trough which will move towards the eastern United States and force the hurricane away from moving up the east coast. It will also likely weaken into a Category 1 hurricane by this point.

Evacuation orders remain in place because Hurricane Matthew is still expected to brush our coast and could still bring damaging winds and flooding. To ensure safety, The University of North Carolina Wilmington has even issued a mandatory campus evacuation for all students starting Thursday at 12 p.m.

Although things are looking better for North Carolina, areas such as Wilmington, Southport, and Oak Island may still encounter dangerous weather conditions, so it is best to continue to be over-prepared. Here are a handful of tips that the Red Cross suggests you do to be prepared for a hurricane:

  • Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind (lawn furniture, bicycles, etc.)
  • Fill your car’s gas tank
  • Talk with your family and create an evacuation plan so that you are always prepared
  • Make sure you have at least a 3-day supply of water
  • Make sure you have flashlights, batteries, and a first aid kit
  • Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads

These dangerous weather conditions may cause more traffic accidents and traffic citations, so we encourage everyone to be safe and extra cautious on the roads this weekend.  However, if you or someone you know gets into an accident or receives a traffic ticket, please give us a call at 910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation.


By Kimberlin S. Murray, Legal Assistant at Collins LAw Firm

Distracted Driving

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

distracted_driving2The National Center for Statistics and Analysis reports that approximately 1200 are injured and about 8 are killed every day in the U.S. in car accidents involving a driver who has been distracted.  Drivers can be distracted by activities such as texting; eating and drinking; talking to passengers; grooming; using in-vehicle technology; etc.

Texting however is considered especially distracting because it requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver.

In order to address distracted driving in our hometown, Wilmington Police Department initiated a campaign this week during which its Traffic Unit will closely monitor drivers who are preoccupied by using their phones, eating, or other activities.  Officers will stop distracted drivers to educate them on the dangers of distracted driving and they will take appropriate action depending on the circumstances.

We urge you to be a responsible driver and pay attention to the traffic when you operate a motor vehicle.

However, should you or somebody you know receive a citation for texting while driving or other distracted driving activities, Collins Law Firm can help you—call us at 910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation.


By Jana H. Collins, Legal Assistant

Stay Safe this July 4th Weekend!

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016

fireworks_gifWith an expected crowd of 20,000 flocking to Wrightsville Beach and neighboring hot spot Masonboro Island this July 4th weekend, local law enforcement are going to be increasing their presence as well. This year will see the cooperation of multiple law enforcement agencies working to ensure the safety of beachgoers and boaters alike. The Wrightsville Beach Coast Guard Station at the island’s south end will be the site of an incident command center operated by a joint force of Wrightsville Beach police officers and deputies from the New Hanover County Sherriff’s office, tasked with covering both the Wrightsville beachfront and Masonboro Island. Along with keeping an eye out for underage drinking and disruptive behavior, officers will also be seeking to target illegal water taxi service, for which fines can range up to $10,000 for captains ferrying without certification.

The likelihood that an officer issues an alcohol related ticket rather than a warning is also to rise, as officers are being instructed to disperse more charges as opposed to the large number of warnings that characterized last year’s holiday weekend. However, despite the increased law enforcement presence, over several thousand boaters are still expected to fill Wrightsville Beach’s waterways this weekend.

So no matter what your plans are this holiday weekend, remember to be safe, and always use your best judgment when planning your holiday activities. However, should you find yourself in trouble or know of someone who does, Collins Law Firm can help. Give us a call at 910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation.

By Clifford E. Howie, Legal Assistant

Justice for our furry friends!

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

Justice for AnimalsThe FBI is now more serious than ever about animal cruelty and the consequences associated against these crimes. As of January 1st of this year, the FBI will now collect data on animal cruelty crime through the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). Animal cruelty will be classified as a Class A felony, treated as crimes such as homicide, arson, and assault. There will be four categories in which animal abuse crimes can be filed: simple or gross neglect, intentional abuse and torture, organized abuse (i.e., dog fighting), and animal sexual abuse.

Animal cruelty is defined as: “Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly taking an action that mistreats or kills any animal without just cause, such as torturing, tormenting, mutilation, maiming, poisoning, or abandonment.” We are grateful, of course that since the FBI will now track these crimes, animals will in a sense be served some justice here, but it is also interesting to consider is the correlation between crimes against animals and crimes against people, pointed out by animal rights activist Mary Lou Randour.

Just at the beginning of this month it was reported that an NC farm worker was convicted of kicking chickens and stomping them to death. We are hopeful that tracking and heavily prosecuting these crimes will cause a major decline in crimes against animals nationwide.

Data collected in 2016 will be available for public review in 2017.

By Amber Younce, Legal Assistant

Medical Marijuana Making Federal Progress

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Marijuana Blog Image 2The medical marijuana movement – a new provision! As found in Congress’ new 1,603-page spending plan, federal agents are now banned from policing medical marijuana users and raiding dispensaries in any state where medical marijuana is legal. Though the media has been hesitant to broadcast this news, you can be assured that this will change the way America sees and treats medical marijuana – and ultimately signals a big shift in drug policy. After two decades of tension and controversy between Washington and the states regarding medical marijuana, the passage of this bill marks a victory for so many. The origin of the movement towards federal legalization of medical marijuana can be linked to the many organizations advocating for federally legalized marijuana such as the Americans for Safe Access, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and the Marijuana Policy Project. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) however is not so thrilled, still arguing that marijuana is in the category of most dangerous narcotics, with no exception to medical use.  The legalization of medical marijuana began in the 1990’s and now 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized it.

2016 is predicted to be an interesting and transformational year regarding marijuana laws, especially with the November presidential election approaching. Candidate Bernie Sanders advocates to end federal marijuana prohibition, while Hillary Clinton wants to “loosen restrictions” on marijuana, and Rand Paul says that regulations should be left up to states.

As we know, marijuana for both medical and recreational use remains illegal in the state of North Carolina. If you or someone you know has received a marijuana (pot) or paraphernalia charge, give us a call at 910-793-9000 to schedule a consultation with experienced Attorney David Collins.

By Amber Younce, Legal Assistant

New NC Laws in effect

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

new-lawsHappy 2016! As of January 1, 2016, 23 new laws will take effect in North Carolina – five of which could impact your daily life, and here they are:

Change in gas tax. As of January 1, you will now save one cent off of every gallon of gas, a total of 35 cents in taxes. However, in exchange for the tax break here, some DMV services have increased, such as registration and license renewal. North Carolina’s goal with this is to generate revenue for the NCDOT with respect to road construction and maintenance.

District Attorneys (DA’s) to carry concealed weapon. DA’s in North Carolina are now permitted to carry a concealed weapon in the courtroom with appropriate permits.

Unemployment requirements on the rise – start job seeking! For those applying and those who are currently on unemployment, you are now required to prove you have contacted five businesses per week, whereas before it was just two.

Abortion awareness and alternatives. Prior to January 1 in North Carolina, doctors have always had to hand out information regarding alternatives to abortions to their patients 24 hours before executing the procedure. Now doctors are required to give out this information 72 hours in advance, and abortion clinic inspection reports have to be posted on the web. The goal here to give women more time to consider their options and final decision.

Protect your child’s identity! With identity theft on the rise, North Carolina now offers a Protected Consumer security freeze option for children under the age of 16. Parents can have this plan put place in to prevent anyone from taking their child’s name.

To see a full list of the new laws that took effect on January 1, 2016, click here: http://archive.digtriad.com/assetpool/documents/151002063956_2015_Effective_Dates.pdf


By Amber Younce, Legal Assistant

Rocky’s Law

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

Neuhaus-Rockys-LawOrange County, NY Legislator Mike Anagnostakis (R-Montgomery, Newburgh) was elated when law he had proposed─Rocky’s Law─was voted unanimously and thereby approved by Orange County, NY Legislators. Pursuant to Rocky’s Law, Orange County Residents convicted of abusing animals are required to register within five days of being convicted or released from jail or prison. Failure to register may result in a fine of up to $2,000 and a year in jail. First time offenders will be prohibited from owning a companion animal for 15 years, and repeat offenders will be barred from owning a companion animal for the rest of their life.

Rocky’s Law was named after a 3-year old Staffordshire Terrier named Rocky who had to be euthanized after he sustained life-threatening injuries from being left in freezing temperatures for five weeks while his owner went on a vacation.

Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus signed Rocky’s Law on June 6, 2015 at the Warwick Valley Humane Society alongside a homeless American Staffordshire lady named Mindy who placed her paw print on the bill.

Legislator Mike Anagnostakis had proposed the law so that Rocky’s death “will not have been in vain. It will at least stop those who have committed the most heinous crimes from ever getting their hands on our loved ones again. What a tribute to Rocky it would be if this law becomes enacted across the U.S.”

Paws up, Orange County, NY Legislators!

By Jana H. Collins

Most Recent Execution by Capital Punishment

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

death-penaltyKelly Gissendaner was executed on Wednesday at 7pm, with respect to her sentence of the death penalty for engineering the murder of her husband in 1997, despite both her children and even Pope Carlo Francis’ wishes. After visiting the United States, the pope sincerely requested in writing that the state of Georgia not follow through with the execution of Ms. Gissendander as stated below:

“While not wishing to minimize the gravity of the crime for which Ms. Gissendander has been convicted, and while sympathizing with the victims, I nonetheless implore you, in consideration of the reasons that have been expressed to your board, to commute the sentence to one that would better express both justice and mercy,”

None of the last minute pleas were enough, and as a result, Ms. Gissendaner was the first person in 70 years to be executed by the death penalty in Georgia.

While talk is hot about the death penalty, some may be wondering, what is North Carolina’s history with the death penalty? And what are the laws associated with it?

The death penalty has been part of North Carolina Law since the state was a British colony, and at that time available as punishment for an array of crimes. Until the later part of the 20th century, the death penalty was permissible for crimes such as arson, burglary, rape, and murder. Since then, however, NC has limited the crimes eligible for capital punishment to cases only where another person is killed.

There has been a drop in the number of capital trials, death penalties, and executions in North Carolina in recent years. The last person to be executed on death row in North Carolina was Samuel Flippen, who was put to death on August 18, 2006 for the murder of his two-year-old stepdaughter.

As of March 30, 2012, according to the Division of Adult Correction, North Carolina held 157 inmates on death row. 153 of the 157 inmates on death row are men. Both the men and women are housed in Raleigh’s Central Prisons. All of these inmates have been on death row at least since the 1990s. North Carolina’s method of execution remains by lethal injection.

The laws regarding North Carolina’s death row policies and procedures are constantly changing, as this is an extremely controversial topic in government. In 2001, according to N.C.G.S. § 15A-2004, the General Assembly modified the statute to give prosecutors the option to decline seeking the death penalty. Those exempt from capital punishment are those who “suffer from a severe mental disorder or disability that significantly impaired his or her capacity to appreciate the nature, consequences, or wrongfulness of his or her conduct.” The minimum age for execution is 17.

Just this week, State Representative Jon Hardister (R) of Greensboro said he thinks the death penalty should be abolished because he doesn’t “trust the government to do it right.” He suggests that alternatively, NC should sentence to life in prison without parole. What are your thoughts on NC laws regarding capital punishment?

By Amber Younce, Legal Assistant

Now or Never – DWI Expunction

Friday, September 25th, 2015

NO EraserAs a prelude to this text, please keep in mind that we are referencing DWIs currently eligible for expunction (i.e., those convicted of a DWI that were released from supervision 15 or more years ago) under N.C.G.S. § 15A-145.5.

The window of opportunity for having your DWI conviction expunged is closing fast! Under S.L. 2015-150, DWIs will no longer be eligible for expunction in North Carolina as of December 1, 2015. Whether you plan to file a new petition or you have a petition pending, as of December 1st there will be no questions as to whether your request for DWI expungement will be granted or denied.

Interestingly enough, it will be exactly 3 years on December 1, 2015 since North Carolina passed a law permitting the expungement of DWIs, under N.C.G.S. § 15A-145.5—certainly not much time to have your DWI expunged!

We’ve mentioned in previous posts the severity of DWI consequences in North Carolina. If you or someone you know was released from DWI supervision 15 or more years ago, please call us at 910-793-9000 to discuss your expungement eligibility. Here at Collins Law Firm, time is of the essence! Call us today to schedule a consultation.

By Amber Younce, Legal Assistant