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When it comes to drunk driving accidents in North Carolina, not all counties are created equal.

While the state as a whole has a relatively low percentage of drunk driving accidents, the actual numbers vary wildly across the state. Using data from UNC’s Highway Safety Research Center and the United States Census Bureau, we’ve constructed the following maps to help you better understand North Carolina’s drunk driving landscape.

Number of Alcohol Related Crashes in 2017

As might be expected, the most heavily populated counties have a much higher number of drunk driving accidents. Just how great the difference is may come as a surprise, however: in 2017, Mecklenburg County had 1,108 alcohol related crashes, while Hyde County had only 2.

Counties with Most Alcohol Related Crashes in 2017

  1. Mecklenburg – 1,108
  2. Wake – 993
  3. Guilford – 672

Counties with Least Alcohol Related Crashes in 2017

  1. Hyde – 2
  2. Tyrell – 5
  3. Washington – 7
Rate of Alcohol Related Crashes in 2017

Another more significant statistic is the rate of alcohol related crashes, which throws the spotlight on counties with an unusually high or low number of crashes relative to their population. For example, in Hyde County there was only one alcohol related crash for every 2,681 residents, while Martin County had a much higher rate of one for every 414 residents.

Counties with the Highest Rate of Alcohol Related Crashes in 2017

  1. Martin – 1 out of every 414 people
  2. Vance – 1 out of every 560 people
  3. Duplin – 1 out of every 568 people

Counties with the Lowest Rate of Alcohol Related Crashes 2017

  1. Hyde – 1 out of every 2681 people
  2. Yancey – 1 out of every 2217 people
  3. Macon – 1 out of every 1737 people
5 Year Difference in Alcohol Related Crashes

Identifying how counties have changed over several years can help show what policies have been effective in combating drunk driving, or what factors lead to an increase in alcohol-related crashes.

The data shows, for example, that while Jacksonville has been labeled North Carolina’s Drunkest City, the surrounding Onslow County has in fact seen the state’s largest decrease in alcohol-related crashes since 2012. Meanwhile, Cabarrus County’s alcohol-related crash count has increased seriously over the same time span.

Counties with the Greatest Decrease in Alcohol Related Crashes since 2012

  1. Onslow – a decrease of 99, from 290 to 191, bringing alcohol-related crash rate down to 1 in 1015.
  2. Cumberland – a decrease of 72, from 360 to 288, bringing alcohol-related crash rate down to 1 in 1155.
  3. Buncombe – a decrease of 31, from 323 to 292, bringing alcohol-related crash rate down to 1 in 882.

Counties with the Greatest Increase in Alcohol Related Crashes since 2012

  1. Cabarrus – an increase of 67, from 199 to 266, bringing alcohol-related crash rate up to 1 in 778.
  2. Johnston – an increase of 61, from 225 to 286, bringing alcohol-related crash rate up to 1 in 688.
  3. Iredell – an increase of 45, from 161 to 206, bringing alcohol-related crash rate up to 1 in 853.
5 Year Difference in Alcohol Related Crashes with Teen Drivers

Alcohol-related crashes are even more serious when teen drivers are involved. Some of North Carolina’s counties have seen success in combating teen drinking and driving, while others have struggled. In 2017, Beaufort County had twice as many alcohol-related crashes with teen drivers than it did in 2012, while in Catawba County, the number of such crashes had been cut in half.

Counties with the Greatest Increase in Teen Driver Alcohol Related Crashes since 2012

  1. Beaufort – from 6 to 12. Teen drivers are now involved in 1 out of every 5 of Beaufort’s alcohol related crashes, up from 1 out of every 8 in 2012.
  2. Cabarrus – from 10 to 15. Teen drivers are now involved in 1 out of every 18 of Cabarrus’ alcohol related crashes, up from 1 out of every 20 in 2012.
  3. Duplin – from 4 to 8. Teen drivers are now involved in 1 out of every 13 of Duplin’s alcohol related crashes, up from 1 out of every 23 in 2012.

Counties with the Greatest Decrease in Teen Driver Alcohol Related Crashes since 2012

  1. Wake – from 88 to 74. Teen drivers are now involved in 1 out of every 13 of Wake’s alcohol related crashes, down from 1 out of every 11 in 2012.
  2. Catawba – from 26 to 13. Teen drivers are now involved in 1 out of every 14 of Catawba’s alcohol related crashes, down from 1 out of every 8 in 2012.
  3. Mecklenburg – from 80 to 69. Teen drivers are now involved in 1 out of every 16 of Mecklenburg’s alcohol related crashes, down from 1 out of every 14 in 2012.

Population Estimates from the United States Census Bureau.

Crash Data from Highway Safety Research Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The post Drunk Driving Accidents in North Carolina: The Map appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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In the service industry, a consumer is basing his buying/hiring decision primarily on how helpful you are.

In law, where the product you are selling is information, the client expects that you know what you are supposed to know in order to achieve the desired legal outcome.

The client assumes (hopefully correctly) that you would not take his case if you don’t know what you are doing. The reason the client retains you is not therefore, your legal acumen, but the degree to which you separate yourself from the pack in one category: helpfulness.

Helpfulness separates your firm from others.

Using the evaluative criterion of helpfulness, a client begins separating your firm from the competition during the initial phone call. Your ability to answer questions, provide information and follow up is critical in converting prospective clients to paying ones. If you don’t answer the phone calls, then your most important hiring decision is your receptionist. This person is the face of your firm and the first “helper” the client meets.

That’s why at Minick Law, our front desk is known as the Help Desk.

Your front desk receptionist tells the potential client your firm is not helpful if he:

  • Is rude or short with the client (i.e. doesn’t have time for the client)
  • Goes straight to pricing (i.e. doesn’t have time for the client)
  • Can’t answer simple questions (i.e. isn’t competent to handle serious matters)
  • Doesn’t explain the next steps for the client to take

Many clients are gauging your office’s helpfulness on primarily one question during the initial phone call: do you have time for them?

If you don’t have time to speak with a client about his case prior to his paying your office money, a client will not be confident you will give him more time once he has paid your office. Many clients will go into a ten-minute breathless explanation of their case as soon as they call your office because they don’t think they will be able to get their story out otherwise.

You’ll win or lose a client on the first call.

A person with a legal problem is highly concerned that if he does not communicate every detail of his case something will go wrong. A good legal receptionist knows how to ask the right questions so that the potential client has the confidence he needs to feel like his situation will be handled correctly.

Your office wins the first impression battle by not rushing or shushing the client during the initial phone call.

You must create an atmosphere in which the client perceives that lack of personal attention will not be an additional hurdle he must face in an already frustrating and confusing legal situation.

Creating a culture of help is the cornerstone of your legal practice because there are a million ways to improve the help and service you provide to clients, i.e. the way you make a client’s life easier.

This culture of help is not some gimmick or façade; it must be genuine: make people’s lives better. Period.

6 ways you can make your client’s experience better:

There are countless ways to make your service and your client’s legal experience better. Just look at the initial phone call and examine ways to improve these areas:

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1.  How easy was the client able to get in touch with you? Did they have to leave a VM? Go through an auto-attendant? Be put on hold immediately?

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2.  How much information did the receptionist provide to the client?

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3.  Did the person answering the phone call ask the right questions to get the necessary contact info and case details?

Z

4.  What next steps was the client given? Consultation/meeting scheduled? Request for important information or documents?

Z

5.  What information was sent to the client following the initial phone call? A confirmation email with a follow up consultation? An informational video about the client’s legal dilemma?

Z

6.  What was the client’s perception of the intangibles of the receptionist? [Ex. Intelligent or confused, friendly or rude, confident or unsure, compassionate or judgmental, etc.]

 These things matter and they can be improved to the betterment of your clients. Put the microscope of helpfulness on every aspect of your client interaction and case management process. What are the solutions you can find to the problems that face your client?

While outstanding helpfulness during the initial phone call will increase your conversion ratio on new leads (i.e. prospective clients), outstanding helpfulness throughout your representation will result in client-based referrals. Create an experience that that is so focused on helping your client, that your client will not be able to keep the experience to himself. Create a client experience that needs to be shared.

Lawyers have an advantage in shattering the expectations of their clients when it comes to helpfulness: most people think lawyers are heartless, money sucking liars.

Show that you are not only more helpful, friendly, and compassionate than other lawyers, but that you also best your client’s doctor, accountant, plumber, dentist, and hair stylist in these qualities. Make your level of helpfulness unforgettable.

Here are some additional ways you can create a culture of help:

I have previously written about creating a culture of help but here are some of the ways to build such a culture: 

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Don’t complain about clients (or better yet don’t complain about anything), especially in front of your staff. A whining office will quickly deteriorate into an office incapable of being helpful.

Instead: go the extra mile for a client, especially in front of your staff.

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Ask clients regularly how you can improve your services.
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Study your craft. Being better at what you do will undoubtedly improve the ways you can help your client.
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Hire people that smile. Staff and attorneys begin the culture of help with a smile (an outward reflection of an inward YES attitude).
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Encourage your staff to be involved in making your legal business great.
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Have regular opportunities for your staff to offer suggestions on improving your services.
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Have opportunities that involve your staff giving back to the community. Incorporate a spirit of charity at the office.
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Include your staff in both forming and carrying out the mission of your business. Make every member of your team feel integral to the success of your office, because . . . they are!

The post Chapter 7: Cornerstone: A Culture of Help appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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A company’s culture is the foundation for future innovation. An entrepreneur’s job is to build the foundation.

 – Brian Chesky, Co-founder and CEO of Airbnb

Every business has a modus operandi.

This way of operating is the habitual way in which business is done. Designing or determining the modus operandi at your business puts you in the role of psychologist determining the deep-rooted basis for the actions of your office.

The modus operandi can be in regards to your systems (which we discuss in a later part of this series); but, more importantly, the business also has a cultural modus operandi.

Yes, your law firm has an attitude, a culture, an atmosphere that can be felt and perceived by everyone who comes in contact with it.

Discover the modus operandi of your firm

The cultural method of operation for a business can be seemingly more difficult to define, because most businesses do not spend time shaping and developing the culture of their business. The culture is developed by chance and chaos, not with purpose and thought.

Discovering the modus operandi of your business gives you the opportunity to conduct an attitude check on your office:

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Internally

Determining the attitude of your team working with each other.

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Externally

Determining the attitude of your team towards clients.

Professional Checkup: What is your legal team’s modus operandi?

Lawyers as a group have an ego problem when it comes to attitude.

The mindset that “you should be grateful to have me as your lawyer” needs to be replaced with “we are grateful to have you as a client.”

Attorneys that allow this entitled attitude towards clients to fester will think:

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My clients are too demanding.

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My clients never pay on time.

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My clients are a time suck.

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My clients are speed bumps on my road to success.

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My clients are my problem.

In the words of Captain Jack Sparrow: “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.”

Firms must always remember one thing: service

Lawyers seem to forget that law firms are in the service industry.

In any service industry only one thing that wins: attitude.

At the end of the day, the way you deliver your services (i.e. the process of delivery) is more important than the actual legal products you render. The value of your delivery process is grossly disproportionate to the legal work performed.

Attorneys, and their staff, occupy a unique position of trust with the client. At every turn that trust should be cultivated by outstanding service.

  • How do we greet a client?
  • What information do we provide to the client?
  • Ho do we follow up with the client after he leaves the office?
  • Do we show the client the work being performed on his behalf?
  • How do we maintain contact with the client and keep the client updated about his case?
Clients are assessing your firm’s “intangibles”

A firm’s modus operandi is comparable to sports analysts talking about the “intangibles” of a star athlete.

While the mechanics are important, questions arise about the athlete’s leadership qualities, work ethic, and will to win. These are questions about the athlete’s attitude. The danger comes in believing that such intangibles are the result of chance and not design. The athlete with strong intangibles is not lucky; he is motivated to win and has developed and refined a habitual attitude of winning.

When deciding to retain your services clients are primarily assessing your firm’s intangibles.

Let me repeat that again.

When deciding to retain your services clients are primarily assessing your firm’s intangibles.

Your firm’s intangibles provide you the greatest leverage in improving the delivery of your services because the opportunities to improve your firm’s intangibles are virtually limitless.

The creative ability to improve how your clients receive your services is as vast at the imagination of your team.

Every aspect of client interaction should be examined for ways to improve the delivery of service:

Your firm’s intangibles provide you the greatest leverage in improving the delivery of your services because the opportunities to improve your firm’s intangibles are virtually limitless.

The creative ability to improve how your clients receive your services is as vast at the imagination of your team.

Every aspect of client interaction should be examined for ways to improve the delivery of service:

Initial Phone Call
  • Is phone call answered with a smile?
  • How can we sound more welcoming and helpful on the phone?
  • How can we provide the client with the answers to the questions he has as soon as possible?
  • How can we make this phone call memorable and stand out for the client?
Greeting at the Office
  • How can we greet a client immediately? [Or better: How do we show the client that they are the most important person in our office when they walk through the door?]
  • How are we maximizing the client’s time in the office?
  • How can we make this greeting memorable and or stand out for the client?
  • Is the reception area comfortable? How can we improve comfort level? [Chairs, music, magazine, wifi, and privacy]
  • What is the atmosphere in the reception area? [What inter-workings of the firm does the client see in the reception area]
Consultation
  • How do we make sure that the client does not feel rushed?
  • How are we uncovering the life impact that the case is having on the client? Are we asking the right questions about the client’s case?
  • How can we improve our forecast of how the case will be handled and a timeline for completion?
  • How do we outline the client’s next steps?
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Client Engagement Letter
  • How can we provide better, faster and more information to the client about his case?
  • How are we explaining the means for our client to request and expect follow up about his case?
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Follow up with Client
  • How are we showing to the client the work we have performed on his case? What is the means by which we share work product with the client?
  • How can we use these follow ups as opportunities to share additional helpful information with the client or to remind the client about items needed for the case to progress?
  • How do we create better automation systems for following up with the client and providing additional information?
Courtroom Appearance
  • How can we better prepare our client for the courtroom?
  • Have we set up our client for success by providing guidance on courtroom etiquette and attire?
  • What are ways we can eliminate anxiety about the court process?
  • How can we guarantee that our client shows up at the right courtroom on the right date and at the right time?
Closing Letter
  • How are we offering future help to the client?
  • What suggestions are we making to client about additional steps they can take to finalize matters related to their case in which we are not involved?
  • How are we asking the client for referrals?

These areas for improvement are a drop in the bucket of ways to take your services to the next level.

Now is the time to work on your firm’s intangibles.

Start working on your team’s intangibles and include your team in the brainstorming for improvement. Honing in on the way your services are delivered will immediately change your business for the better.

There will be constant room for improvement because the more you start to examine the way your client’s receive your services, the more potential for improvement you will notice.

This culture of improvement is contagious because it is fun. Finding ways to make the client’s case-experience the best it can be is challenging and interesting.

Make sure your modus operandi breathes life into your clients, your team, and you.

The post Answering the Question: How Do We Do What We Do? appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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Affirmative Defense: A Guide to Affirmative DWI Defense
Automatism Defense Using Automatism and Involuntary Intoxication Defense in DWI Cases
Coercion-Duress Defense Duress Defense
in the DWI Context
Entrapment Defense Utilizing the Entrapment Defense for Successful DWI Defense
Necessity Defense The Necessity Defense in the Context of Driving While Impaired
Automatism Defense Using Automatism and Involuntary Intoxication Defense in DWI Cases

It’s not often that you’ll get a chance in court to use either the automatism defense or the involuntary intoxication defense.

This means it’s easy to forget the details of each defense! (Did you remember that you only have to prove them to the jury’s satisfaction, rather than beyond reasonable doubt?)

In this chapter, we’ll review each defense in detail.

Coercion-Duress Defense Duress Defense in the DWI Context

Another, more frequent affirmative defense against a DWI charge is the duress defense, also known as the defense of coercion. A defendant may have been forced to drive while under the influence, as for example when escaping from an assailant.

If your client finds himself in such a situation, use this chapter for a thorough overview of this defense and how to present it.

Entrapment Defense Utilizing the Entrapment Defense for Successful DWI Defense

If a defendant can show that he committed a DWI at the urging of a government official, then he can successfully employ an entrapment defense.

This chapter reviews the two elements that must be present for a successful entrapment defense, but also discusses significant court cases that have defined how this defense can or can’t be argued successfully.

Necessity Defense The Necessity Defense in the Context of Driving While Impaired

In our final chapter, we discuss the affirmative defense known as the necessity defense. This can be employed when the crime committed was in fact the most reasonable available action to avoid death or serious damage to person.

Clearly, it is important to understand the defense’s legal context and background to understand when and how it should be argued.

The post Affirmative Defense: A Guide to Affirmative DWI Defense appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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Image property of Smart Start

North Carolina lawmakers have the responsibility to enact laws to keep our roads safe.

Part of that is to eliminate the risk of drunk driving wherever possible.

One of the tools that the legislature has given the NC DMV is the ability to require certain driver’s install interlock devices in their vehicles.

What is an ignition interlock device?

The Interlock is a device that quickly tests for the presence of alcohol from the driver’s breath. The driver must blow into the device to start the vehicle.

If any alcohol is detected, the device will go into lockout mode and the driver cannot make another attempt for 5 minutes. If a second attempt detects alcohol, the device will not allow another attempt for 30 minutes. It will also record the failed attempt in its memory; any failed attempts will be transmitted to the DMV.

The interlock requires random checks while the car is driving.

A tone will sound indicating a test is required. If the test detects alcohol it will go into alarm mode, it will not stop the car but it will direct the driver to pull over and stop the vehicle. In some models, the car will begin honking its horn and flashing its lights, until the car is stopped. It will then begin the lockout sequence and require an alcohol free test within 5 minutes.

What happens when an ignition interlock device detects alcohol?

Any time the interlock detects alcohol or if it fails to register an alcohol free test after being in alarm mode, the info is transmitted to the DMV. The device itself cannot communicate with the DMV, the information stored in its memory and then transmitted to the DMV by the technicians that regularly service the device, usually monthly.

Any violations will result in a letter from the DMV stating that driving privileges are scheduled for a suspension 10 days after the letter is mailed from the DMV. The driver then has 10 days to request a hearing on the matter. The cost for the hearing is $450. Interlock violation hearings are the only DMV hearing where the driver is billed after the hearing.

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False Readings

It is possible for the mouth devices to give false readings. Usually this is due to mouth contaminants. The manufacturers warn that smoking and certain energy drinks can cause a false violation. For this reason, it is suggested that drivers keep a bottle of water handy and rinse their mouth out before each blow.

How does an ignition interlock device work?

Interlocks and similar devices work by detecting ethanol in a fuel cell.

The ethanol molecules react with a membrane treated with a substance called platinum black. The ethanol is converted to acetic acid, electrons are released and a current is generated in proportion to the amount of alcohol detected. The current released corresponds to a number, which is displayed on the display.

I would caution any tinkerers from trying to defeat the device; it will record any violations or lack of testing. Not only will it cause the driver to lose privileges, it a class one misdemeanor in NC to tamper with the device.

Requirement #1: BAC level of .15 or above

The most common requirement for an interlock device in NC is for a driver that is convicted for a DWI where the BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) is at or above a .15.

If the driver would otherwise be eligible for a post conviction driving privilege, if the breath or blood test registers at .15 or above at conviction, the driver has to surrender his license for 1 year.

After 45 days, the driver can have a privilege if an interlock is installed. Proof of the installation must be furnished to the judge issuing the privilege. This privilege will expire one year after conviction so the driver has to go to the DMV after 1 year and get a driver’s license with the interlock requirement on it to complete the year. The 45 days where no driving is allowed does not count towards the interlock one-year requirement. This causes a lot of confusion for driver’s nearing the end of their year.

Requirement #2: Conditional Restoration

The other common interlock requirement is conditional restoration.

This occurs after a driver has been suspended for a period of time and is still listed as suspended by the DMV. When the driver is eligible for a hearing, the hearing officer can place an interlock restriction on the driver as a condition of restoring driving privileges. This condition can last 3 years or more depending on the outcome of the hearing.

When an interlock requirement is placed on a driver, the DMV requires that all of the vehicles registered to that driver have an interlock device in them. The cost of the device is usually around $75.00 per month so it may be best to transfer any unnecessary vehicles to members of the family or have them registered as inoperable. The person required to have the interlock must only drive the vehicles equipped with ignition interlock.

3 Ignition Interlock Services in North Carolina

There are only three Interlock providers that are qualified and authorized to operate in North Carolina. If interlock is required to drive, it’s up to the driver to call, setup the installation, and prove to the court or the DMV that it’s installed. Most of the providers have offices in the larger NC cities.

Alcolock NC, Inc.

P: 1-855-664-0353
W: alcolockusa.com

Monitech, Inc.

P: 1-800-521-4246
W: monitechnc.com

Smart Start Inc.

P: 1-800-418-6255
W: smartstartnc.com

Smart Start Inc.

P: 1-800-418-6255
W: smartstartnc.com

The post What Is An Ignition Interlock in NC? appeared first on Minick Law, P.C..

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