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Did you know that this week is Operation Southern Shield? It started on July 20 and ends on the 26th. During Operation Southern Shield, law enforcement officers will be working to crack down on motorists in Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, and South Carolina who are engaging in dangerous driving behaviors. This includes driving under the influence, distracted driving, and of course, driving over the speed limit. This is especially important right now – while traffic has dropped due to COVID-19, traffic deaths have not, as more motorists are driving above the speed limit. Although officers will be working hard to reduce traffic accidents this week, you should be aware of what to do if you are in a collision with a speeding motorist. If you are injured in an auto accident due to the careless behavior of another driver, contact the Don Turner Legal Team and see how we can help you.

Although it might be common to see drivers traveling above the speed limit, it’s nothing to take lightly. In 2018, one in five traffic-related fatalities in Georgia was caused by speeding. And according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding is a factor in almost one third of all motor vehicle fatalities in the United States. 9,718 people across the country died in speeding-related collisions in 2018 alone – that is not a number for you to take lightly.

Law enforcement officials in the southeastern United States aren’t taking that number lightly either, especially now, when people are treating the COVID-19 induced drop in traffic as an invitation to put the pedal to the metal. This week, you can expect to see more state troopers, police officers, and deputies enforcing traffic laws across Georgia. The goal is not to write extra traffic tickets but instead to show Georgia motorists that respecting the speed limit, refraining from driving under the influence, and keeping your focus on the road can save lives. It works too – in 2019, Operation Southern Shield led to a 29 percent drop in the number of traffic deaths.

Children-get-on-a-school-bus-592x331-1We are well into July, which means most parents in the state of Georgia are well into taking care of their back to school shopping needs. Even if the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 is still a concern, it is equally important that kids get back into the classroom. At the time of this writing, Georgia school districts are making plans to reopen safely, while addressing the safety concerns raised by the novel coronavirus. Like or follow the Don Turner Legal Team on Facebook for further updates on Georgia school districts reopening as they occur.

How and When Will My Child’s School Reopen?

 The Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Department of Public Health has cooperated to complete a set of guidelines to support school districts, depending on the number of reported coronavirus cases in the individual district. These guidelines are meant to allow Georgia schools to reopen, while ensuring students can enjoy a safe 2020-2021 school year. They are not state-mandated, and school districts will be allowed to use their discretion on how and when to reopen.

decriminalize-marijuana-2_waifu2x_art_noise2_scale_tta_1-300x166Georgia has always had strict laws when it comes to the use of cannabis. However, the Peach State has made noticeable strides with cannabis laws in the past few years. In 2015, it became legal for Georgia citizens with Low THC Registry Cards to possess medical marijuana oil, while hemp and CBD products with less than 3% THC are legal to sell and possess as of 2019. Now a bill has been introduced to the Senate which includes a proposal to decriminalize marijuana throughout Georgia. Contact the Don Turner Legal Team if you have any questions about Georgia’s cannabis laws.

What is Marijuana Decriminalization?

Marijuana decriminalization is not to be confused with marijuana legalization. Decriminalization occurs when a state repeals or amends laws so that certain acts, while still considered criminal, are no longer subject to prosecution. As of this writing, recreational cannabis is not legal anywhere in Georgia, although possession of small amounts has been decriminalized in select cities and counties. You will still face some penalties if you are caught with a small amount of marijuana in these cities and counties. However, the consequences are less severe than they would be in the rest of Georgia.

cannabis-card-300x192Georgia has been historically resistant to any kind of marijuana legalization. However, recent laws could make it easier to obtain low THC cannabis oil for medical use, in response to a steadily growing demand in Georgia. At this writing, over 14,000 Georgians have permission to purchase low THC cannabis products – that is a 50 percent increase from last year. Although medical marijuana oil is becoming more prevalent in Georgia, registering to possess it can be tricky, and there are legal issues you need to be aware of. Contact the Don Turner Legal Team today if you have any questions about how to register for a medical marijuana card or the status of Georgia’s medical marijuana laws.

Hemp vs. Medical Marijuana – What’s the Difference?

Georgia’s Hemp Farming Act has made it legal to purchase products containing cannabidiol or CBD, a chemical which has a number of purported health effects, as long as they contain less than 3% tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical responsible for the “high” caused by smoking cannabis. Medical marijuana is sometimes confused with hemp since they have similar health benefits. However, they are not interchangeable, and it is important to know the difference.

ezgif-300x199On March 14, 2020 Chief Justice Harold D. Melton signed a judicial emergency order suspending all non-essential court functions due to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19 pandemic. This order was recently extended through July 12, although judges are allowed to use their discretion on how to proceed when it comes to resuming in-person operations. This judicial emergency order has not stopped courts and law firms from successfully conducting their operations remotely, which could lead to permanent changes in our legal system. Our law office is no exception to this rule. Contact the Don Turner Legal Team today and see what kind of virtual accommodations we can offer our clients.

Attending Court from Your Living Room

Although businesses in Georgia are gradually opening back up, many Americans remain concerned about possible exposure to COVID-19. But while you have the option of getting your hair cut at home or ordering takeout instead of going to a restaurant, attending court is an entirely different story. You must show up for your court hearing or face consequences. At the same time, social distancing remains a concern for clients and court staff alike. So, how do you make sure the justice system proceeds smoothly while continuing to adhere to social distancing measures?

IMG_13331-1-179x300Today is the start of Memorial Day Weekend, a time many Americans have been looking forward to. Many of us will be returning to the roads after weeks spent in lockdown due to COVID-19. Unfortunately, many people engaging in Memorial Day festivities will be consuming plenty of alcohol, which means plenty of people driving under the influence. Police are counting on plenty of intoxicated drivers this weekend and are ready to make DUI-related arrests. If you are stopped by law enforcement while driving under the influence, you could end up paying a very steep price, even if this is just your first DUI. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, contact the Don Turner Legal Team for a free virtual consultation.

Police are advising people who plan to celebrate with alcohol this Memorial Day Weekend to plan a sober ride home or take advantage of rideshares, such as Lyft or Uber. This is advice you need to listen to, even if you do not think you are too impaired to operate your motor vehicle. The National Safety Council estimates that 366 people will die on the roads this Memorial Day Weekend. Many of these deaths will be caused by drunk driving, one of the leading causes of fatal accidents in the United States.

In fact, of the 397 people who died over Memorial Day Weekend in 2010, 40 percent of these fatalities were alcohol related. In fact, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is considered the “100 deadliest days of driving”. This period of time is especially deadly for teen motorists, who have been consuming alcohol earlier and earlier in recent years.

Screen-Sh1-300x201It has been several months since the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19 first surfaced in America and multiple states issued stay at home orders. While these lockdown measures were meant to protect people, they have endangered many victims of domestic violence by forcing them to shelter with their abuser. Fortunately, victims can petition the courts for a total protective order, and courts will still hold TPO hearings, despite being closed for most matters until June 12. If you are facing domestic violence, contact the Don Turner Legal Team to confidentially discuss your case.

Americans have been encouraged to practice various social distancing measures in order to halt the spread of COVID-19. This has included encouraging citizens to remain in their homes whenever possible. Sadly, this has made homes a more dangerous place for many victims of domestic abuse. The stress caused by the pandemic has increased tensions in abusive households. Stay at home orders have left victims with less privacy, making them reluctant to contact domestic abuse hotlines. Abusers may further discourage their victims seeking help through the abuse of technology.

Anxieties caused by COVID-19 have left many victims more willing to remain with their abuser than live in a shelter, where they and their children may be exposed to COVID-19. Many shelters are facing health and economic concerns that make it more difficult to take in victims. The pandemic is also a time of widespread unemployment and economic uncertainty for many American. If the abuser is the primary breadwinner, the victim might be more willing to tolerate their abuse than risk the financial consequences of leaving.

judicial-building_001-300x225As you likely know, on March 14, 2020, Chief Justice Harold D. Melton signed an order declaring a judicial state of emergency due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Although this judicial order was originally set to expire on April 13, it was extended to May 13 due to concern about COVID-19’s ongoing spread. Now that order will be further extended to June 12. Like or follow the Don Turner Legal Team on Facebook for updates on the coronavirus pandemic as it unfolds.

All hearings that do not entail an immediate liberty or safety concern that requires the court’s full attention are considered non-essential. You can read a detailed explanation of what is considered to be an essential hearing here. Essential hearings are still on the calendar, although you may have the option to conduct them virtually. Contact your court to see if you have this option.

Justice Melton made this announcement on Monday, in the wake of mounting reports of COVID-19 cases in the state of Georgia. As of May 4, 2020, there are 29,045 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Georgia, 5,429 hospitalizations and 1,192 deaths. You can view an up-to-date status report on the number of confirmed coronavirus cases on the Georgia Department of Public Health’s website. Justice Melton intends to sign an order codifying his announcement later this week.

Georgia-Supreme-Court-Building-Article-201903071846-300x180It has been several months since the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19 in the United States. Since that time, multiple non-essential businesses have shut their doors to the public and multiple essential businesses adopted measures to limit the virus’ spread. The Georgia courts are no exception – until May 13, all courts throughout Georgia will only be hearing essential matters. But what is considered an essential matter, and what should you expect if you have an essential hearing on the calendar? Contact the Don Turner Legal Team today if you are facing an essential court matter.

Chief Justice Harold D. Melton declared a statewide judicial emergency on March 14, hereby closing all courts for non-essential matters, in order to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Although this order was originally set to expire by April 13, the mounting number of COVID-19 cases across the United States led to this order being extended into May 13. As of this writing, Georgia courts are still set to reopen by May 13; however, there is a chance that the order could be extended another 30 days.

The rules for what is considered an essential hearing are clearly laid out in Justice Melton’s emergency judicial order. To put it simply, if you have an immediate liberty or safety concern that requires the full attention of the court, then your hearing is still on the calendar. Any other hearing has been rescheduled and may be rescheduled further, depending on the needs of the court. Specifically, the following hearings are named as essential, per the emergency order:

NQAU6AYRP5EQFEMGZ5VILHA63U-300x150Georgia, much like the rest of the United States, has been doing its best to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. This has meant closing schools and non-essential businesses, enacting social distancing measures, and ordering Americans to shelter in place at their homes. However, Georgia citizens’ days of sheltering in place might soon be coming to an end. On Monday, April 20, 2020, Governor Brian Kemp announced he will be gradually allowing businesses to reopen starting Friday, April 24, 2020. How do you feel about this decision, and if you are a small business owner, how are you planning to handle this? Let the Don Turner Legal Team know on our Facebook page!

On April 24, select businesses in Georgia, including gyms, bowling alleys, tattoo parlors, and barber shops will be allowed to reopen under this new measure. By April 27, theaters and dine-in restaurants will be allowed to reopen their doors to the public. However, these businesses will still have to abide by social distancing guidelines. This means screening workers for respiratory symptoms, maintaining proper workplace sanitation, and staggering shifts to minimize the number of people in contact with each other. Other businesses , such as bars and nightclubs, will still remain closed until further notice.

While Governor Kemp’s decision allows select businesses to reopen their doors, that does not mean every business owner is planning to do this. In fact, the reaction among Georgia business owners has been decisively mixed. Some business owners are grateful to reopen their doors and avoid having to lay off their employees. Others are uncertain whether or not they can run their business properly while abiding by Governor Kemp’s guidelines, as many of the businesses being allowed to reopen involve close contact with customers. Some businesses have chosen to remain closed altogether for the time being, despite having the green light to reopen.

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