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Collins Law Firm :: Blog

Covid19 – Access Denied

March 20th, 2020

With the ongoing spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, businesses around the globe are having to make decisions to close, whether it be temporarily or permanent.  Here in North Carolina, bars and restaurants are currently closed for dine-in, and are instead offering take out and/or delivery options.  These changes are set for at least March 31, possibly longer, depending on how the virus develops and continues to spread. 

As of today, because of COVID-19, the Wrightsville Beach Mayor and the Chief of Police have decided to close all of the public beach accesses.  Surf City has also made the announcement that they have closed their public beach accesses.   

Carolina Beach officials followed in the same fashion at a meeting this afternoon, and called a State of Emergency and decided to also close their public beach accesses.  These decisions have been made to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our area, especially now that there have been 3 positive test results from our area.  

Wrightsville Beach, Surf City, and Carolina Beach are all popular destinations for tourists and locals – other beaches in our area include Caswell Beach, Holden Beach, Kure Beach, Oak Island, Ocean Isle Beach, Surf City, Sunset Beach, and Topsail Island.  However, officials in North Carolina are strongly urging residents strongly suggest against non-essential travel at this time and many vacation rental agency discuss flexible cancellation and date moving requests due to Covid19.  And, North Carolina’s welcome centers have been closed until at least April 1, 2020.

In the midst of information about the spreading of the virus or new precautions, unfortunately, false claims are spread promising ways to prevent an infection or even kill the virus, like inhaling hot air from a hair dryer, or gargling with warm water and salt or vinegar.  Please always consider the source of information and check with a healthcare professional before turning to self-remedies.  

By Karen M. Thompson, Paralegal

New Hanover County, North Carolina

March 18th, 2020

New Hanover County was founded in 1729 and was named after the House of Hanover.  It has an estimated population of 228,657 as of 2019.  

New Hanover County is known for its history – two of the biggest historic attractions are the Fort Fisher State Historic Site and the USS North Carolina. The Fort Fisher Battlefield is located in Fort Fisher. At Fort Fisher, visitors have a chance to get up close and see where the Battle of Fort Fisher was held. Visitors can also go inside the USS North Carolina, which became one of the first ten fastest battleships to join the American Fleet in World War II.

In addition to the Fort Fisher Battlefield and the Battleship, there is historic Downtown Wilmington with its mile-long Riverwalk along the Cape Fear River. It was named “Best American Riverfront” by USA Today in 2014.  There are various local shops, and restaurants and bars, where you can watch the passersby while enjoying a nice meal or drink in this beautiful scenery. 

New Hanover County has a countless other attractions which make it a very popular location to visit in Southeastern North Carolina.  The most popular locations to visit are the beautiful beaches: Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, and Kure Beach.  Especially when the weather is nice, visitors as well as residents enjoy these beautiful beaches and beach towns, and take advantage of countless opportunities like boating, scuba diving, and surfing—Wrightsville Beach was named one of the “World’s 20 Best Surf Towns” by National Geographic Magazine.

Usually, around this time of year, New Hanover County’s residents as well as visitors, would be preparing for the Azalea Festival, where thousands of people flock to celebrate by attending concerts, the Garden Party, art shows, and other exciting festivities.  However, for the first time in it’s 73-year history, the Azalea Festival has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

By Karen M. Thompson, Paralegal

Pender County, North Carolina

March 17th, 2020

Pender County was established in 1875 and named after the Confederate Army General William D. Pender who was honored for fighting in many battles for this country. Pender County currently holds a population of 62,162 as of the 2018 U.S. census, and has grown approximately 15% since 1990, when the population was 34,000. This has made Pender County one of the fastest growing counties in North Carolina.  

Known best for its beautiful scenery, voluminous forest areas, and flat terrain with a land area of 869.80 square miles, Pender County is able to grow an assortment of different crops such as sweet potatoes, peanuts, grapes, soybeans, corn, tobacco, and blueberries which generates a major portion of the county’s economic base. Burgaw has their annual Blueberry Festival where more than 30,000 people have been estimated to attend each year for their one-day event, where locals and tourist enjoy family entertainment all day and experience their southern hospitality.  

In addition to the flat terrain in Pender County, there are two rivers that run through the county, the Cape Fear River and the Black River. Running along the Northeast of the Cape Fear River is the Holly Shelter Game Land, where you can hunt during September 8th through January 1st and hike through the off season. The Black River is unique due to it being one of only two rivers that are pollution free in North Carolina. Pender County is also home to Topsail Beach, which attracts visitors all year long because of its small town feel and the beautiful beach.     

Pender County has several major highways surrounding it such as I-40, U.S. 17, U.S. 421, and U.S. 117. These highways can help make an easier commute to surrounding cities such as Wilmington, Jacksonville, or Myrtle Beach.

With all the traveling and sightseeing, make sure you are following the rules of the road – always wear your seatbelt, drive at safe speeds, and never drive impaired.

However, if you or someone you know received a traffic ticket, or face a criminal charge in or around Burgaw, NC, in Pender County, in New Hanover or Brunswick Counties, then Attorney David Collins can help.  He has over 25 years of experience in the legal field, and has successfully handled scores of criminal and traffic cases.

Call us for a confidential consultation at (910) 793-9000.  Collins Law Firm is available 24/7 by appointment.

By Karen M. Thompson, Paralegal

Cancellations and Closures due to COVID-19

March 16th, 2020

As of today, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 here in New Hanover County.  However, over the weekend, a person in Brunswick County received a positive diagnosis for the virus. 

In response to the pandemic, the Brunswick County Courthouse is closed until at least Friday, March 20, 2020.  The New Hanover and Pender County Courthouses are currently open, but not to the general public and with restrictions. 

On a national level, the PGA Golf Tour has been cancelled, and the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL), and Major League Soccer (MLS) are all suspending their seasons.  Even Disney Parks have all been closed to try to halt the spread of the virus.  With respect to events local to our area, the Azalea Festival has been cancelled, as well as the Southport Spring Festival.  The Cameron Art Museum will be closed from March 17 through March 30, 2020.  Grocery stores will have shorter hours, such as Publix closing at 8 p.m., and Walmart will now only be open from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m., regardless of whether or not they are a 24-hour store. 

So far, K-12 schools across the State have cancelled classes until at least March 30, 2020.  However, there are options for children to pick up breakfast and lunch from different locations in their area.  All schools within the UNC School System have cancelled in-person classes by March 20, with online courses beginning March 23.

These cancellations and closures have been in an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus, which in turn will help keep our healthcare system from being overloaded, similar to what is currently happening in Italy. 

We urge everyone to continue to practice excellent hygiene, such as properly washing your hands often, practice social distancing, and stay home if you have symptoms, and check for updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  If you have the option, please consider to conduct business remotely if possible.  Also, if you intent to see your healthcare provider because you suspect you may have contracted the virus, please call then first so they can take precautions and prepare to see you. 

North Carolina residents who have questions and concerns about coronavirus may call the Coronavirus Line at 1-866-462-3821. 

By Karen M. Thompson, Paralegal

COVID-19 in Southeastern North Carolina

March 13th, 2020

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread around the United States, we try to hope for the best and plan for the worst, as far as preparing for a potential outbreak here in our area.  Governor Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency on Tuesday, March 10, 2020.

As of today, there are no confirmed cases of the virus in New Hanover County, but there is one case confirmed in nearby Onslow County, at Camp Lejeune. 

The New Hanover County Courthouse released a statement today with respect to their actions against spreading the virus. 

As a precaution, the Azalea Festival has been cancelled, and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) has decided to cancel all high school sporting events starting midnight on Friday, March 13, until at least April 6, 2020. 

Officials say that practicing proper hygiene and handwashing techniques can help prevent spread of COVID-19, but also to get in the habit of practicing “social distancing,” which can best be described as keeping 6-10 feet away from others, not going to crowded events, avoiding shaking hands with people, and if you have any respiratory symptoms, use your best judgment to self-monitor your symptoms and contact your medical provider, and to decide whether you should stay home from work and other activities.

As we stay as prepared as possible, as well as wait to hear additional information on how our daily lives will be affected, we urge you all to continue to use caution when out in public, wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water, and wipe down areas that are frequently touched by multiple people – phones, TV remotes, laptops, tablets, doorknobs, and light switches. 

By Karen M. Thompson, Paralegal

Brunswick County, North Carolina

February 25th, 2020

Brunswick County is North Carolina’s southernmost county, with a 2010 census population count of 107,431 – ten years prior, the county only had 73,143 residents.   According to the United States Census, the estimated population in 2018 was approximately 136,744, making Brunswick County the 4th fastest growing county in the country!   

            Tourism is one of the biggest economy boosters in Brunswick County – Oak Island, Bald Head Island, Shallotte, and the beautiful beaches are areas of Brunswick County that attract people from all over the State.  The historic town of Southport has an old jail that has been renovated and turned into a museum, as well as a popular downtown area with waterfront seafood restaurants, shops, and breweries to explore.  Scenic areas around Brunswick County, as well as the location of EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, also helped attract the attention of movie producers to film scenes of movies such as “A Walk to Remember,” “Safe Haven,” “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” and shows such as “Under the Dome” and “Sleepy Hollow.”

With tourism, especially in the summer months, crime can certainly follow.  From DWIs and drug charges, to traffic tickets, getting a citation should be the last thing on your mind when visiting a beautiful county like Brunswick, but it is possible.  We would like to please remind you to always follow the rules of the road – wear your seatbelt, drive at safe speeds, and never drive impaired. 

If you or a loved one seek legal representation in a personal injury claim (including automobile accidents, tractor trailer accidents, or wrongful death claims), then Collins Law Firm along with Attorney Mitch Baker can offer their 65+ years combined experience to effectively represent you. 

If you or someone you know receive a traffic ticket, or face a criminal charge in or around Wilmington NC in New Hanover County, Brunswick County, or Pender County, then Attorney David Collins can help.  He has over 25 years of experience in the legal field, and has successfully handled scores of criminal and traffic cases. 

Call us for a confidential consultation at 910-793-9000.  Collins Law Firm is available 24/7 by appointment. 

By Karen M. Thompson, Paralegal

White-Collar Crime

February 24th, 2020

In 1939, the American Sociologist, Edwin Hardin Sutherland introduced the concept of white-collar crime, and defined it as “a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of their occupation.”

While criminal prosecutions primarily take place on a state level, white- collar crimes are often prosecuted on the federal level, often because they are committed crossing state lines.

In the result of a white-collar crime, there is generally a financial gain at the expense of another, and there is no violence involved.

Some examples of white-collar crimes are: Fraud, identity theft, embezzlement, money laundering, employee theft, credit card theft, asset forfeiture, mail and wire fraud, and last but not least, extortion.

If charged with a white-collar crime one faces financial penalties, or even prison time, depending on the specific allegations. In many situations however, one’s professional license can be compromised in the result of a conviction or even just an investigation for an alleged white -collar crime.  Therefore, it is important to consult with an attorney as soon as you become aware of an investigation or a charge pending against you.

If you are charged or investigated for an alleged white-collar crime in Southeastern North Carolina, in or around Wilmington, NC, in New Hanover County, Brunswick County, or Pender County, call Collins Law Firm at 910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation.

By Jana H. Collins

Move Over Laws and Penalties in Case of Violation

February 5th, 2020

The sight of amber-colored flashing light or the sound of sirens tend to make us uncomfortable and often times drivers appear to be unsure about what they are expected or required to do. 

Upon the approach of an emergency vehicle “giving warning signal by appropriate light and by audible bell, siren or exhaust whistle, audible under normal conditions from a distance not less than 1000 feet”, North Carolina General Statue (N.C.G.S.) §20-157(a) provides that “the driver of every other vehicle shall immediately drive the same to a position as near as possible and parallel to the right-hand edge or curb, clear of any intersection of streets or highways, and shall stop and remain in such position unless otherwise directed by a law enforcement or traffic officer until the law enforcement or fire department vehicle, or … shall have passed. Provided, however, this subsection shall not apply to vehicles traveling in the opposite direction of the vehicles herein enumerated when traveling on a four-lane limited access highway with a median divider dividing the highway for vehicles traveling in opposite directions, and provided further that the violation of this subsection shall be negligence per se. Violation of this subsection is a Class 2 misdemeanor.”

With respect to fire apparatuses, N.C.G.S. §20-157 provides in subsections (b), (c), and (d) that it is unlawful to follow too closely when it is traveling in response to a fire alarm, to park too close to where a fire apparatus has stopped to answer an alarm, or to drive a motor vehicle over or block a fire hose or any other equipment being used at a fire.

When an authorized emergency vehicle is parked or standing within 12 feet of a roadway and is giving a warning signal by appropriate light, N.C.G.S. $20-157(f) provides that:

  • 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 safely clear of 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.

With the amendment of N.C.G.S. §20-157 effective December 1, 2019, the penalty for those who violate the State’s Move Over Law causing serious injury or death by violating this section have increased—a violation resulting in damage to property or injury to a law enforcement officer or emergency response person is now a Class 1 misdemeanor pursuant to N.C.G.S. §20-157(h), which carries a maximum punishment of 120 days;  a violation resulting in serious injury or death to a law enforcement officer or emergency response person is now a Class I felony pursuant to N.C.G.S. §20-157(i), which carries a maximum punishment of 24 months.

By Jana H. Collins, Office Manager

DWI/DUI – Refusing a Breathalyzer Test

January 15th, 2020

DWI/DUI refers to Driving While Impaired (DWI), or Driving Under the Influence (DUI).  Commonly, even more terms are used to describe what North Carolina General Statute (N.C.G.S.) defines in §20-138.1 as impaired driving, for example driving while intoxicated, drunk driving, or drugged driving.  Pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 20-138.1. 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.

Often, law enforcement agencies set up road blocks in order to detect drunk or drugged drivers, in other cases, law enforcement officers pull drivers over who exhibit signs of impaired driving.  In either scenario, upon suspicion of impaired driving, a law enforcement officer will request for the driver to submit to a breath test, and/or administer a field sobriety test to determine if the level of impairment is outside the legal limits. 

Pursuant to N.C.G.S. §20-16.2. Any person who drives a vehicle on a highway or public vehicular area thereby gives consent to a chemical analysis if charged with an implied-consent offense. Any law enforcement officer who has reasonable grounds to believe that the person charged has committed the implied-consent offense may obtain a chemical analysis of the person.  Before any type of chemical analysis is administered the person charged shall be taken before a chemical analyst authorized to administer a test of a person’s breath or a law enforcement officer who is authorized to administer chemical analysis of the breath, who shall inform the person orally and also give the person a notice in writing that:

(1) You have been charged with an implied-consent offense. Under the implied-consent law, you can refuse any test, but your driver license will be revoked for one year and could be revoked for a longer period of time under certain circumstances, and an officer can compel you to be tested under other laws.

(2) Repealed by Session Laws 2006-253, s. 15, effective December 1, 2006, and applicable to offenses committed on or after that date.

(3) The test results, or the fact of your refusal, will be admissible in evidence at trial.

(4) Your driving privilege will be revoked immediately for at least 30 days if you refuse any test or the test result is 0.08 or more, 0.04 or more if you were driving a commercial vehicle, or 0.01 or more if you are under the age of 21.

(5) After you are released, you may seek your own test in addition to this test.

(6) You may call an attorney for advice and select a witness to view the testing procedures remaining after the witness arrives, but the testing may not be delayed for these purposes longer than 30 minutes from the time you are notified of these rights. You must take the test at the end of 30 minutes even if you have not contacted an attorney or your witness has not arrived. NC Gen. Stat. 20-16.2 Implied consent to chemical analysis; mandatory revocation of license in event of refusal; right of driver to request analysis.

Before the revocation of one’s driving privilege goes into effect based on their refusal to submit to a chemical analysis, North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV) will send a letter to let one know for when the suspension of their driver license is scheduled, and will advise of the right to request a preliminary hearing.  If NCDMV receives the request for a preliminary hearing along with payment for the required hearing fee in the amount of $450.00, prior to the suspension going into effect, one may retain their driver license pending the outcome of the preliminary hearing.

Upon six months from the effective date of the suspension of one’s driver license due to their refusal, the court may be petitioned for a limited driving privilege for the remainder of the one year refusal suspension. 

Fortunately, Collins Law Firm is here to help those facing impaired driving charges in New Hanover, Pender, and Brunswick County.  Attorney David Collins has over 25 years of experience in the legal field, and has successfully represented many people charged with DWI/DUI.   If you or someone you know has DWI/DUI, then call us at (910) 793-9000 for a confidential consultation.

By Jana H. Collins, Paralegal

Fall 2019 in Wilmington, North Carolina

October 4th, 2019

As the summer season comes to a close this year, there are more cars on the road –schools are fully back in session, and New Hanover County has had a continuously increasing number of residents which is currently at 227,000+.  And, events such as the Wilmington Riverfest and the Cape Fear Fair and Expo attract tourists to add even more to our already crowded streets.

WECT reported this week that there have been three pedestrians hit and killed in a ten day period here in Wilmington, North Carolina.  Wilmington Police Department (WPD) was shocked at the high rate of occurrence of deadly hit and runs in our area recently, even considering the perpetual construction and awful traffic.  The WPD urges pedestrians to be extra cautious and mindful of the laws, especially considering that traffic has the right of way if a pedestrian is crossing the street mid-block.

Police say these pedestrian safety tips could save lives:

  • Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available.
  • If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
  • When possible, cross the street at a designated crosswalk.
  • Always look both ways before crossing the street.
  • Look for cars in all directions, including those turning right or left.
  • Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach you to make sure you are seen.
  • Wear bright clothing during the day and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.

Another common cause of car accidents is distracted driving, whether that is texting, eating, or simply not paying attention to their surroundings.  Only a partial second of distraction is needed for a potentially life-changing accident to occur.  Giving it a second thought before texting while driving could be what it takes to save your life, or someone else’s!  However, eliminating distractions while you’re driving is only half the battle when considering being a safe driver – you also have to be aware of other driver’s movements, and anticipate possible traffic violations, such as running a red light, or failure to reduce speed to avoid a collision.

If you or a loved one is seriously injured in an accident, as a result of someone else’s fault or negligence, we can help you get maximum compensation, meaning money damages, for your pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost wages.

If you are charged with any type of crime in Southeastern North Carolina, in or around Wilmington NC in New Hanover County, Brunswick County, or Pender County, call Collins Law Firm at 910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation about what we can do for you.

By Karen M. Thompson, Paralegal