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NC On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive: A Lifesaving Campaign

Wednesday, May 15th, 2024

Every year, lives are tragically cut short due to impaired driving. Whether on the road or on the water, alcohol and vehicles are a dangerous mix. Recognizing this, North Carolina has launched a critical campaign aimed at reducing these preventable deaths and injuries: “On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive.”

The “On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive” campaign is a collaborative effort between the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, State Highway Patrol, and local law enforcement agencies. Its mission is straightforward yet profound: to educate the public on the dangers of impaired driving and to enforce laws that keep roads and waterways safe.

A significant part of the campaign focuses on raising awareness about the risks and consequences of drinking and driving. This includes public service announcements, social media outreach, and educational programs. By spreading knowledge, the campaign aims to change behaviors and attitudes toward impaired driving.

During peak times, such as holidays and summer weekends, there is a heightened presence of law enforcement officers on both roads and waterways. Sobriety checkpoints and patrols are strategically placed to deter and catch impaired drivers. This visible enforcement helps reinforce the message that impaired driving will not be tolerated.

The campaign works closely with local communities to tailor strategies that meet specific needs and concerns. This includes partnering with local businesses, such as bars and restaurants, to promote safe practices and alternatives to driving after drinking.

Promoting alternative transportation options is another crucial aspect of the campaign. From encouraging the use of designated drivers and rideshare services to providing information on public transportation, the campaign ensures that there are viable options for those who have been drinking.

Since its inception, the “On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive” campaign has had a measurable impact on reducing impaired driving incidents in North Carolina. According to data from the North Carolina Department of Transportation, there has been a notable decrease in alcohol-related crashes and fatalities during campaign periods. This success underscores the importance of continued vigilance and community involvement in combating impaired driving.

Behind every statistic, there is a story. Families who have lost loved ones to impaired driving often become advocates for the campaign, sharing their personal experiences to highlight the devastating effects of these preventable tragedies. Their stories serve as powerful reminders of why this campaign is so essential.

Everyone has a role to play in making our roads and waterways safer.  Therefore, please be a responsible driver, and if you plan to drink, make arrangements for a sober ride home.

However, should you or someone you know receive a traffic ticket, get into a fender bender, serious accident, or receive a DUI/DWI, call us at 910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation.

2024 St. Patrick’s Day – Booze It & Lose It Campaign

Friday, March 15th, 2024

St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday known for its vibrant green festivities, cheerful parades, and jovial gatherings, is celebrated by millions around the world every year. However, amidst the revelry and merrymaking, there’s a darker side that often gets overshadowed: the dangers of drunk driving. As we gear up to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, it is crucial to remember the importance of responsible drinking and the serious consequences of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.

St. Patrick’s Day commemorates the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick, and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.  What began as a religious feast day has evolved into a global celebration of Irish culture, marked by parades, traditional music, dancing, and, of course, the wearing of green attire. It is a day when people of all backgrounds come together to celebrate Irish heritage and enjoy the festivities.

Unfortunately, St. Patrick’s Day has also become associated with a rise in alcohol-related incidents, particularly drunk driving accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), alcohol-related fatalities tend to spike around this holiday. In 2019, for example, 51% of all traffic fatalities on St. Patrick’s Day involved drunk drivers with blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08% or higher.

The consequences of drunk driving can be devastating, both for the driver and for others on the road. Not only does it put the driver at risk of injury or death, but it also endangers the lives of innocent bystanders and other motorists. Moreover, the legal repercussions of drunk driving can be severe, including hefty fines, license suspension, and even jail time. Beyond the legal consequences, the emotional toll of causing harm to oneself or others can be immense and long-lasting.

While it is perfectly fine to enjoy a few drinks and celebrate with friends and family, it is essential to do so responsibly. Here are some tips for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day safely:

If you are going out to celebrate, plan your transportation in advance. Designate a sober driver, use public transportation, or arrange for a ride-sharing service to ensure you get home safely.

Enjoy your drinks in moderation and alternate alcoholic beverages with water or non-alcoholic drinks to stay hydrated.

If you notice someone who has had too much to drink, intervene and help them find a safe way home. Never let a friend or loved one drive drunk.

Do not succumb to peer pressure to drink excessively. Remember that it is okay to say no and stick to your limits.

There are various smartphone apps available that can help you find a sober ride home or track your alcohol consumption throughout the night.

In an effort to deter those who have been drinking from getting behind the wheel, law enforcement officers statewide will be on patrol and set up DWI checkpoints – the Booze-it-and-Lose-it campaign for the St. Patrick’s Day holiday began on Monday, Mar. 11, 2024, and will run through Sunday, March 17, 2024.

However, should you or someone you know receive a traffic ticket, get into a fender bender, serious accident, or receive a DUI/DWI, call us at 910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation.

Stay safe, Wilmington!

Guns in North Carolina

Wednesday, February 28th, 2024

In North Carolina one may legally carry openly a gun without a permit if they meet the following requirements: they are at least 18 years of age, and have no felony convictions.  The open carry rule is restricted in certain sensitive locations such as educational properties, correctional institutions, state or federal buildings, or private businesses or properties that have posted “No Weapons” signs.

However, if one wants to carry a concealed gun, one needs to obtain a concealed carry permit.  The requirements for obtaining a concealed carry permit in North Carolina are as follows:

Age: Applicants must be at least 21 years old.

Residency: Applicants must be a resident of North Carolina for at least 30 days preceding the filing of the application.

Training: Completion of an approved handgun safety course within a specified time frame. The course typically covers firearm safety, marksmanship, and the laws regarding the permissible use of deadly force.

Criminal Background Check: Applicants are subject to a criminal background check by both state and federal agencies. Certain criminal convictions or pending charges may disqualify an individual from obtaining a permit.

Mental Health Records Check: Applicants must not have been adjudicated or administratively determined to be lacking mental capacity or mentally ill unless the adjudication or determination has been removed pursuant to law.

Good Moral Character: Applicants must be of good moral character. This typically means having no recent convictions for certain crimes, such as violent offenses or felonies.

Fingerprinting: Submission of fingerprints for a criminal history record check.

Application and Fee: Completion of the application form and payment of the required fee.

Contributory and Comparative Negligence in Personal Injury Cases: Legal Framework, Implications, and Trends

Thursday, February 22nd, 2024

This blog explores the legal doctrines of contributory negligence and comparative negligence in the context of personal injury cases. Contributory negligence traditionally barred plaintiffs from recovering damages if they were found even slightly at fault for their injuries. In contrast, comparative negligence apportions damages based on each party’s degree of fault. The blog examines the evolution of these doctrines, their implications for plaintiffs and defendants, and the trends regarding their adoption in different states.

In the realm of personal injury law, questions of fault allocation are paramount. Two main doctrines have emerged to address this issue: contributory negligence and comparative negligence. While contributory negligence traditionally posed significant barriers to plaintiffs seeking compensation, comparative negligence offers a more nuanced approach to fault allocation. This blog delves into the intricacies of both doctrines, their historical development, contemporary application, and the states’ varying stances on their adoption.

Contributory negligence, rooted in common law principles, historically served as a harsh rule barring plaintiffs from recovery if they were found to have contributed to their injuries in any way. This doctrine, often criticized for its rigidity and potential for unjust outcomes, effectively shifted the entire burden of responsibility onto the plaintiff, regardless of the defendant’s negligence. Critics argued that contributory negligence failed to account for the proportional fault of each party and often led to inequitable results, particularly in cases where the plaintiff’s contribution to the injury was minor.

In response to the perceived injustices of contributory negligence, many jurisdictions began adopting comparative negligence systems. Comparative negligence allows for a more equitable distribution of fault by apportioning damages based on each party’s degree of negligence. Under this framework, plaintiffs may still recover damages even if they are partially at fault, with the damages reduced in proportion to their degree of fault. This approach aims to achieve a fairer allocation of responsibility and ensure that plaintiffs are not completely barred from recovery due to minor faults.

The adoption of comparative negligence varies significantly among states in the United States. Pure comparative negligence systems allow plaintiffs to recover damages regardless of their degree of fault, with damages reduced according to their level of responsibility. In contrast, modified comparative negligence systems bar recovery only if the plaintiff is found to be equally or more at fault than the defendant. States have implemented various thresholds for modified comparative negligence, with some jurisdictions adopting a 50% bar rule and others opting for a 51% bar rule.

Despite the widespread adoption of comparative negligence, very few states, such as North Carolina,  still adhere to contributory negligence principles. These states, often characterized by their adherence to traditional legal doctrines, maintain the strict rule that any contributory negligence on the part of the plaintiff completely bars recovery. Critics argue that this approach is antiquated and fails to account for the complexities of modern legal disputes.

The decision to adopt or retain contributory or comparative negligence often reflects broader legal philosophies within each state. States that prioritize individual responsibility and traditional legal principles may be more inclined to retain contributory negligence. On the other hand, states that prioritize fairness and equitable outcomes may opt for comparative negligence systems. Additionally, the legal and political climate, as well as historical precedent, play significant roles in shaping each state’s approach to fault allocation in personal injury cases.

If you or any of your friends or family members are injured in an accident, call us at Collins Law Firm at 910-793-9000 for a fee confidential consultation.

A Brief History of College Spring Break, and in Particular, the Southeastern North Carolina Beaches

Wednesday, February 21st, 2024

College spring break has long been synonymous with freedom, fun, and adventure. However, alongside its evolution, this annual tradition has also come to be associated with risks such as injuries, alcohol-related incidents, sexual assaults, criminal charges, and traffic violations. This blog delves into the history of college spring break, tracing its origins and transformation over time, while examining the specific risks prevalent in the coastal regions of New Hanover, Pender, and Brunswick counties, with a particular focus on Masonboro Island and Wrightsville Beach, NC.

College spring break has its roots in the early 20th century, when academic institutions began adopting the concept of a recess period during the spring semester. Initially, it was a time for relaxation and rejuvenation, often involving family-oriented activities. However, by the mid-20th century, the emergence of popular culture, media, and tourism transformed spring break into a rite of passage for college students, characterized by beach parties, excessive drinking, and uninhibited behavior.

The Evolution of College Spring Break:

The 1960s and 1970s witnessed the rise of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as the quintessential spring break destination, attracting hordes of students seeking sun, sand, and a break from academic rigors. Over time, other coastal areas across the United States, including those in New Hanover, Pender, and Brunswick counties, began capitalizing on the spring break phenomenon, offering vibrant nightlife, beachfront accommodations, and an array of recreational activities.

Risks Associated with College Spring Break:

a. Injuries: The combination of alcohol consumption, water activities, and reckless behavior often leads to a surge in injuries during spring break. From slip and fall accidents to water-related mishaps, the risk of injury is heightened during this period.

b. Alcohol and Substance Abuse: Spring break is notorious for excessive drinking and drug use, with many students engaging in binge drinking and experimentation. This behavior not only poses health risks but also contributes to impaired judgment and increased vulnerability to accidents and criminal activity.

c. Sexual Assaults: The party atmosphere and relaxed inhibitions prevalent during spring break create an environment conducive to sexual violence. Studies indicate a spike in sexual assaults and harassment cases during this time, underscoring the need for heightened awareness and prevention measures.

d. Criminal Charges: Instances of disorderly conduct, public intoxication, underage drinking, and drug offenses escalate during spring break, often resulting in arrests and criminal charges. Law enforcement agencies in coastal areas are tasked with managing crowds and maintaining public order amidst the influx of revelers.

e. Traffic Violations: The surge in vehicular traffic during spring break contributes to congestion, accidents, and traffic violations. Reckless driving, speeding, and driving under the influence pose significant risks to both motorists and pedestrians.

Masonboro Island and Wrightsville Beach, NC:

Masonboro Island at Wrightsville Beach, located in New Hanover County, have emerged as popular spring break destinations, renowned for their pristine beaches and vibrant nightlife. However, the influx of college students during spring break brings with it a host of challenges for local authorities and residents. Incidents of alcohol-related disturbances, beach littering, and environmental damage are common during this period, prompting concerted efforts to mitigate the impact of spring break activities on the ecosystem and community.

College spring break remains a celebrated tradition, offering students a much-needed respite from academic pressures. However, the allure of sun-soaked beaches and wild parties comes with inherent risks, ranging from injuries and alcohol abuse to criminal behavior and traffic violations. 

As coastal communities continue to grapple with the complexities of hosting spring break festivities, proactive measures aimed at promoting responsible behavior, enhancing safety protocols, and fostering community engagement are imperative to ensure a harmonious and enjoyable experience for all stakeholders involved.

Expunction Laws in North Carolina over the Years

Thursday, February 1st, 2024

Over the last 25 years, there have been many changes to the expunction or expungement laws in North Carolina. Laws constantly change, and it is crucial to consult the latest legal resources, or seek advice from a legal professional, to get the most up-to-date information. The following is a general overview of how expunction laws have typically worked in North Carolina.

Expunction or expungement in North Carolina refers to the process of sealing or erasing a person’s criminal record under certain circumstances. The eligibility and criteria for expunction can vary based on the nature of the criminal charges, whether the person was convicted, and other factors.

Here is a general breakdown of how the laws regarding expunction in North Carolina have typically worked:

Expunction for Dismissed Charges:

1.            Expunction for Dismissed Charges: Individuals who have charges that were dismissed, acquitted, or where they were found not guilty are now eligible for expunction.

3.            In North Carolina, it used to be that an individual may generally only be eligible for a one-time expunction for dismissed charges.  However today, 2024, individuals can have an unlimited number of charges for which they were acquitted expunged.

Expunction for Convictions:

1.            Certain Nonviolent Misdemeanors: Some low-level misdemeanors may be eligible for expunction after a waiting period, provided the individual meets certain criteria.

2.            First-time Nonviolent Felony: For certain nonviolent felonies, individuals may be eligible for expunction if it is their first felony conviction, and they have completed their sentence and met other specified requirements.

3.            Age Restrictions: Some expunctions may have age restrictions, especially for offenses committed by individuals under a certain age.

Changes Over Time:

Laws regarding expunction can change through legislative actions. Changes might include adjustments to waiting periods, expanding eligibility criteria, or introducing new types of expunctions. Additionally, the legal landscape may be influenced by court decisions.

Consult a Legal Professional:

For the most accurate and up-to-date information on expunction laws in North Carolina, it is essential to consult legal professionals, such as attorneys specializing in criminal law or organizations that provide legal assistance.

Always be sure to check with the North Carolina General Assembly or legal databases for the latest statutes and amendments related to expunction laws in the state.

If you would like a confidential consultation about trying to get some charges expunged in Brunswick County, New Hanover County, or Pender County in North Carolina, in which the county seats are Bolivia, Wilmington, and Burgaw, call Collins Law Firm for a confidential consultation and 910-793-9000.

NC State University – David “Skywalker” Thompson Statue

Saturday, January 20th, 2024

In order to honor David “Skywalker” Thompson, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players in the history of North Carolina State University (NCSU), the university unveiled his statue outside of Reynolds Coliseum on December 6, 2023. The artist who created this statue is David Allen Clark of Wyoming, who is considered one of the finest realist and portrait sculptors of our time.  The statue of David Thompson is made of bronze and stands 13 feet tall, depicting Thompson catching an alley hoop pass, the creating of which is mainly credited to Thompson and his team.

David Thompson played for the NCSU Wolfpack from 1972 to 1975 and had a remarkable college career. Here are some key points about David Thompson:

Position: Thompson played as a shooting guard and small forward during his college career.

Accolades: He achieved numerous accolades during his time at NCSU, including being a three-time ACC Player of the Year (1973-1975) and a two-time consensus First Team All-American (1974-1975).

National Championships: David Thompson led the Wolfpack to the NCAA National Championship in 1974. The team, coached by Norm Sloan, went undefeated that season and defeated Marquette in the championship game.

Skywalker: Thompson earned the nickname “Skywalker” due to his incredible leaping ability. His dunks and scoring prowess were ahead of his time, making him a legendary figure in college basketball.

Statistical Achievements: He set numerous records during his college career, including scoring 57 points in a single game against Buffalo in 1974. His scoring ability and overall impact on the game were exceptional.

Legacy: David Thompson’s impact on college basketball and NCSU is lasting. He is considered one of the greatest players in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and played a significant role in putting NCSU on the national basketball map.

After his college career, David Thompson went on to have a successful professional career in the NBA, primarily playing for the Denver Nuggets and the Seattle SuperSonics. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996, solidifying his place as one of the basketball greats.

If you or someone you know receive a traffic ticket or any other criminal charge in New Hanover, Pender, or Brunswick Counties, or if you or someone you know get seriously injured in an accident at which they were not at fault, call Collins Law Firm at 910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation about what we can do to help you.

By Jana H. Collins

Chillin’ in Wilmington, NC

Wednesday, January 17th, 2024

Wilmington, North Carolina, is known for its mild coastal climate, we occasionally experience subfreezing temperatures that can catch us off guard. As winter brings chilly weather to our otherwise temperate region, it is essential to take precautions to stay safe and protect our homes.

The onset of subfreezing temperatures can lead to various challenges, including icy roads and sidewalks. Residents need to exercise caution when driving or walking, as black ice can be particularly treacherous. It is advisable to use salt or sand on icy surfaces to improve traction and prevent slips and falls.

When temperatures drop, it is crucial to protect the pipes from freezing. Insulate exposed pipes and faucets and leave cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate. Dripping faucets can also prevent pipes from freezing, reducing the risk of costly damage.

For those with pets, it is essential to bring them indoors during subfreezing weather. If that is not possible, then make sure the pets have a warm and sheltered space with proper bedding. Provide fresh water regularly, as water bowls can freeze in the cold.

Also, be mindful of your heating systems. Ensure that heaters are in good working condition and have been inspected recently. Space heaters should be used with caution, placed away from flammable materials, and never left unattended.

Wilmington may not experience extreme cold regularly, but when subfreezing temperatures arrive, it is essential to be prepared. Keep an emergency kit with blankets, extra clothing, and non-perishable food items in case of power outages or other weather-related disruptions.

By Jana H. Collins

Beware the Nationwide Jury Duty Scam: Don’t Fall Victim to Threats of Arrest

Thursday, January 11th, 2024

In recent times, a disturbing trend has been on the rise across the nation – the nationwide jury duty scam that preys on unsuspecting individuals, instilling fear by threatening arrest. This deceptive scheme exploits the anxiety and confusion surrounding jury duty, aiming to manipulate people into divulging personal information or paying fraudulent fines. In this blog, we will shed light on the nature of this scam, how it works, and most importantly, how to protect yourself from becoming a victim.

The nationwide jury duty scam typically begins with a phone call or an official-looking letter claiming to be from a local court or law enforcement agency. The scammer will assert that the recipient has failed to fulfill their civic duty by not appearing for jury duty and, as a result, is facing imminent arrest. The threats of legal consequences and arrest are designed to create panic and coerce individuals into compliance.

Scammers employ scare tactics to increase the likelihood of their victims complying with their demands. They may mention fictitious fines, imminent arrest warrants, or court appearances to pressure individuals into providing sensitive personal information, such as social security numbers, bank details, or even payments in the form of gift cards or wire transfers.

On January 11, 2024, the Wilmington Star News reported on the front page an increase in these types of scams. Collins Law Firm has received calls from potential victims of these types of scams in Brunswick County, New Hanover County, and Pender County.  In each and every case, the caller seeking legal advice was told by our staff that it was almost certainly a scam. And every single case in which we were retained to investigate, we were able to conclude it was a scam perpetrated by fraudsters.  Please google Wilmington Star News “Jury Duty Scam Threatens Arrest if the Fine Isn’t Paid” and read the article.

If you or someone you know receive a traffic ticket or any other criminal charge in New Hanover, Pender, or Brunswick Counties, or if you or someone you know get seriously injured in an accident at which they were not at fault, call Collins Law Firm at 910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation about what we can do to help you.

By Jana H. Collins

2023 Holiday Booze It & Lose It Campaign

Tuesday, December 12th, 2023

In order to deter impaired driving, the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program began to run their Booze It & Lose It campaign today through January 1, 2024. 

All across North Carolina, there will be increased patrols and checkpoints to detect impaired drivers. 

Last year, 471 people were fatally injured in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents in North Carolina alone. 

Enjoy the holidays and some yummy holiday spirits, but please utilize a designated driver, a taxi, Uber, or Lyft, in order to make sure not to turn a good time into a tragedy for yourself or others.

However, if you or someone you know receive a traffic ticket or any other criminal charge in New Hanover, Pender, or Brunswick Counties, or if you or someone you know get seriously injured in an accident at which they were not at fault, call Collins Law Firm at 910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation about what we can do to help you.

By Jana H. Collins