Articles Posted in Car

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traffic.JPGGood Georgia Lawyer is very concerned about the Governor’s new plan to turn the emergency lane on the Ga. 400 into a travel lane. Governor Nathan Deal announced this new project to convert the highway shoulder that is typically used for an emergency lane as an additional lane for traffic. The emergency shoulder is currently used for ambulances, firetrucks, and police cars who need a speedy bypass for getting through congested traffic to reach an emergency or get a patient to the hospital in time.

Emergency services operators are all expressing their alarm. Even those who simply need to use the emergency lane in the event of a car break down now will not have an option to do so, thus increasing the dangers on this particular freeway significantly. Firefighters, police officers, and ambulance drivers are against the new plan believing it will put the public at risk.

Ga. 400 rush-hour commuters know how difficult this freeway can be as it has been recently ranked as one of the nations most unreliable commutes. Nevertheless, experts say that converting the emergency lane into a traffic lane will not ease the traffic that significantly and critics contend that the heavy price tag made up of safety losses make it not worth it.

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GA state patrol.jpgThe second fatal collision occurred last week in Moultrie, Georgia this time involving a motorcycle and truck. The Georgia State Patrol investigators reported that a 1996 Toyota Tacoma, driven by an 81 year old man named James Henry Smith, failed to yield when crossing a road, hitting a motorcycle that was driven by 30 year old Randy Larry Harris.

Very sadly, Mr. Harris was ejected from his motorcycle and died at the scene. Mr. Harris, a young man at age 30, tragically left behind a loving wife, children, and large extended family from West Berrien. He was a diesel mechanic and shop supervisor at the Berrien County Bus Shop, and a member of Ebenezer Baptist Church. The elderly driver who hit him was given a citation for failing to yield.

Very sadly, motor vehicle crashes such as this one are the leading cause of injury and death in the United States. The most recent 2010 report put out by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) reports that motor vehicle crashes are the leading in fact the cause of death among those age 5-34 in the U.S. The financial impact is also significant: the lifetime costs of automobile crash deaths and injuries among Americans was listed at $70 billion a year just a few years ago.

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Thumbnail image for Baroda-Lake_Civil_Forfeiture.JPGWilliams Oinonen LLC often receives phone calls from Georgia citizens, innocent owners of vehicles, homes, and/or cash who have had their property taken by law enforcement agents because, supposedly, their property is related to a drug offense. The process of taking property in this manner is called forfeiture. And Georgia Code 16-13-49 primarily governs forfeitures related to alleged drug sales/transactions. What’s important for you to know is that you can fight to regain your property. But you must act quickly, because forfeiture laws and rules are complicated, and very time sensitive.

For example, Georgia Code 16-13-49 requires you to respond within thirty (30) days of receiving notice that your property is subject to forfeiture. If you don’t respond within thirty (30) days, then, “all right, title, and interest in the property is forfeited to the state and the district attorney shall dispose of the property as provided” by Georgia law.

Furthermore, your claim (response to notice of forfeiture) must be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested or staturory overnight delivery. And your claim must:

1. Be signed by the owner or interest holder of the property under penalty of perjury;

2. Be sent specifically to both the law enforcement agency that took your property and the relevant District Attorney; and

3. Contain specific details such as (a) the nature and extent of your interest in the property; (b) the specific provision of O.C.G.A. § 16-13-49 relied on in asserting that your property is not subject to forfeiture; and (c) all essential facts supporting each assertion, amongst other specific details required by law.

You must comply with the above-mentioned, and more, in order to have a mere “opportunity” at getting your property back. Then, if you do comply with the requirements of Georgia law to challenge what is called an administrative forfeiture proceeding, you still must challenge a potential judicial forfeiture proceeding. Simply put, the state agency will first attempt to take your property through an administrative proceeding, which is discussed above. If you meet those deadlines and other legal requirements, the state will most likely file a “judicial action” (complaint for forfeiture) in an attempt to take your property through a judicial forfeiture proceeding. You then must comply with more strict guidelines, rules, and laws!

If all that was not enough (and I’ve only touched on a few aspects of this complicated area of law) the state may turn your case over to the federal government in what is commonly referred to as adoptive forfeiture. The federal government will then file a judicial forfeiture action in an attempt to take your property.

You must have an attorney who understands both federal forfeiture law and Georgia forfeiture law in order to adequatley protect your rights.

Significantly, state and federal agencies attempting to take your property must comply with strict procedural timelines and laws, too, meaning you may be able to get your property back by demonstrating that the government failed to comply with mandated, legal requirements. And there are many defenses that may apply to your case such as an “innocent owner” defense or a due process defense. However, as I’ve stated, you need a good attorney who understands this area of the law.
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