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Asheville North Carolina Legal Blog

Most cases tried in America involve misdemeanors

According to data from the FBI, cases involving misdemeanor charges account for 80 percent of criminal dockets in America. There are about 13 million misdemeanor cases annually in North Carolina and throughout the country. Such a large caseload may result in individuals not getting the outcomes that they may deserve. This is because public defenders may lack the time and other resources to give a defendant the zealous defense to which he or she is entitled.

There tends to be a racial element at play when it comes to how cases are resolved. White Americans charged with a misdemeanor are 75 percent more likely to avoid going to jail or prison compared to black Americans. In some cases, an inability to pay fines, court costs or other fees could lead to spending time on probation or even in jail. In some cases, individuals are charged a fee while in jail as well as to apply for a public defender.

Some truck drivers dangerously fighting fatigue with stimulants

Because of the massive weight of trucks, victims of accidents involving these vehicles in North Carolina are often drivers of smaller vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists or other individuals who may be in the path of a collision. An increasing number of drivers are on long hauls at all hours of the day and night. This in and of itself presents possible hazard risks. An added danger is driver fatigue related to efforts to meet tight deadlines and delivery obligations.

According to available statistics, it's long-haul trips of 51 miles or more that account for the bulk of trucking accidents. The risk of personal injury is further increased when drivers turn to stimulants to remain awake behind the wheel. While some truck drivers consider the use of these substances to be a viable solution to help with alertness, the reality is that drugs with stimulating effects boost the risk of accidents and fatalities occurring. In fact, drivers under the influence of stimulants actually have higher driving infraction rates. This is largely because of side effects with these drugs that tend to lead to reduced attention spans and poor focus and decision-making abilities.

Several North Carolina residents sentenced in heroin ring

On December 17, several North Carolina residents were sentenced for their participation in a heroin and marijuana ring operating out of Craven County. The defendants were arrested following a multi-year investigation by federal, state and local authorities.

According to the United States Attorney's Office, the investigation focused on a drug trafficking ring run by two New Bern men, ages 34 and 36. The men had apparently been ordering large amounts of heroin from New York and having is transported down to North Carolina for several years. The heroin was then distributed for sale to multiple mid- and low-level drug dealers in the New Bern area.

How can underage drinking affect your child?

North Carolina is strict on underage drinking compared to some states. If your child is charged with underage drinking, you may be wondering what could happen and how might it affect your child’s future. You don’t want one mistake to ruin your child’s future. Here are a few facts you should know about underage drinking:

Reducing winter driving risks in North Carolina

Blizzard-like and icy conditions sometimes take North Carolina drivers by surprise during the late fall and winter months. But new safety technologies, such as traction control capabilities, that are used properly, and some commonsense precautions may reduce driving and accident risks in inclement weather. This is why the National Safety Council is making an effort to educate drivers by stressing the importance of being as prepared as possible when getting behind the wheel in winter.

Checking the forecast before driving and properly warming up vehicles are some of the steps the NSC recommends. The most effective way to avoid car accidents is if drivers simply stay put when dicey driving conditions are expected. if this isn't possible, the NSC advises that motorists inform a friend or loved one of their intended destinations and expected arrival time before leaving. In the event that a driver is stranded, the nonprofit group recommends he or she check the exhaust pipe for blockage and light emergency flares near the vehicle.

What the First Step Act tries to accomplish

The First Step Act is intended to be a method in which the criminal justice system becomes more equitable. It was created through a joint effort from President Trump and the American Civil Liberties Union. However, it is unclear how it will ultimately help those with cases in North Carolina and other states. It is also unclear what its final form will be or if it passes over the objections of those in Congress.

One of its goals is to make it easier for judges to use a safety valve mechanism to get around mandatory minimum sentences. It would allow those with limited criminal histories to potentially benefit from this option. Currently, only those who have no prior criminal history who are being charged with nonviolent drug crimes may avoid a mandatory minimum sentence. The legislation would also make the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act retroactive to those sentenced before 2010.

Tips for safe driving in the bright sunlight

Most drivers in North Carolina understand that heading out in the early morning or late afternoon means driving in bright sunlight. If possible, commuters could try waiting until the sun completely rises or sets below the horizon. In any case, it is important to keep safe during these conditions since bright sunlight can create visual illusions.

Drivers raise their fatal accident risk by 16 percent when in bright sunlight. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate the hazards. Wearing sunglasses is an essential first step as these can reduce the brightness and protect the eyes from harmful UV rays. Drivers should leave a pair in their car at all times. Next, they should use their sun visors to block the sun from their front windshield or side windows. Sun visors are made not to hinder visibility.

Teens driving teens have higher fatality risk

Many North Carolina drivers are wary of cars full of teens. They may believe that these drivers are more likely to be careless or distracted. While some of these ideas are based on stereotypes about teen drivers, they may also be backed up by reality. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a study for National Teen Driver Safety Week showing that when teen drivers have only teen passengers in their vehicles, the fatality rate for everyone involved in a car accident can rise by 51 percent.

The risk can often be the greatest for people in other cars involved in a crash with a car full of teens. Passengers and drivers in other vehicles were 56 percent more likely to be fatally injured as the result of such a motor vehicle accident. Pedestrians and cyclists were also 17 percent more likely to lose their lives while the teen drivers themselves were 45 percent more likely to die. On the other hand, when at least one passenger age 35 or older was riding with a teen driver, the fatality rate in car accidents declined by 8 percent.

Where to keep your car to protect it from hurricane damage

Last month, North Carolina residents suffered through Hurricane Florence together. Towns lost their structures, people lost their lives and the state lost billions in property damage. If you were fortunate enough to receive little to no damage from the storm, do not count yourself lucky yet. We still have one month to go before the 2018 hurricane season ends, so we could still get hit with more heavy winds and rainstorms.

If your town experiences heavy downpour, car companies generally recommend that you avoid going through deep water to avoid your vehicle breaking down or drowning. Instead, you should think about where you want to keep your car to avoid getting major storm damage around these times. Finding the right place is crucial to keep your vehicle safe and avoiding tedious battles with insurance companies.

Many North Carolina doctors have stopped prescribing opioids

The opioid crisis has affected millions of people throughout the United States. Last year, President Donald Trump declared the prevalence of opioid addiction a national emergency. The over-prescription of opioids for disproportionately mild injuries contributed to the crisis. In response, many doctors—including over 1,000 in North Carolina alone—say that they have stopped prescribing opioids altogether.

Curbing the opioid epidemic, one doctor at a time

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