BHL Bogen

BHL Bogen
BridgehouseLaw LLP - Your Business Law Firm

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tobacco Companies File Lawsuit over Warning Labels

Four of the five largest tobacco producing companies of the USA, R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard, Commonwealth Brands, Liggett Group and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company are suing the U.S. federal government over a law which will require them to print government created warning labels on the package of their tobacco products.

The free speech complaint is directed towards a law created by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which requires larger and more prominent health warnings on the labels of tobacco products starting in September 2012.

The nine graphic images show among other things organs before and after the regular use of tobacco products as well an image of a dead body after a post mortem examination. Alongside the images, phrases are printed informing the reader that smoking can be deadly or that smoking harms children. Also posted on the labels is the number of a hotline that is meant to assist tobacco consumers in quitting. The warning label will take up 50% of the entire packaging and will cover the front, top and back.

The FDA argues that the images are the first change in cigarette marketing in 25 years and are therefore more than necessary to inform the modern consumer of the dangers of smoking. The images are to serve as a reminder of the great danger and health problems smoking causes. They are also a tool of the public policy of reducing the costs which smoke related diseases cause in the public health care system, as well as avoiding unnecessary smoking related deaths and prevent young people from starting to smoke. The FDA therefore believes the warnings will have a positive effect on public health.

The tobacco companies on the other side claim that the law violates their right to free speech, which according to them protects their freedom of deciding what to print on their labels. They also argue that the warnings do not simply convey the message of informing the consumer. Instead, the companies believe the labels are designed to evoke an emotional reaction and therefore are meant to “scare” consumers away from the tobacco products. Additionally, the tobacco companies claim that the organs and body on the pictures are made to look worse by sanitizing them and using actors. Furthermore, the companies complain that they will have to spent millions on altering their brand logos and change the layout of their packaging as well as invest in equipment to match the requirements of the FDA law.

Printing warning images on tobacco product packaging is already a part of public health strategies in Great Britain, Romania, Belgium and Lithuania. It remains to be seen what effect the new FDA law will have on consumers in the United States.

(c) Picture:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Moving to North Carolina with a Pet

You are moving to North Carolina and want to bring your pet? No problem! Here is some important information you need to know.

Your cat, dog or ferret older than 4 months has to be licensed within 30 days of your moving date.

For licensing, proof of a current rabies vaccination is required. “Current” means the pet has to have had a vaccine shot within the last year if moving in from out of state, the last three years if moving within the state.

Registration is administered by PetData:
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Licensing
c/o PetData
PO Box 141929
Irving, TX 75014-1929

For licensing your pet, click here to print and fill out the application. Together with the application, you must send in the required paperwork. The required paperwork consists of:
  • vaccination proof;
  • proof of whether the pet is fertile or unfertile; and
  • proof that makes your pet eligible for any exemptions, for example age discount (62 years or older) or if applying for the show dog exception.
The licensing fees vary depending on whether the pet has been made unfertile or not. An unfertile pet will cost $10 for one year, a tag valid for three years costs $25. A fertile pet costs $30 for one year, longer lasting tags are not available. The license has to be renewed annually. In case the renewal is not timely, Mecklenburg County charges a late fee.

You will also need a permit if you own three or more dogs or cats that are frequently kept outside. For more information, please click here.

For more information about all pet or animal related questions, especially about missing pets, go to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control website.

(c) Picture:

North Carolina and Guns

Want to purchase a gun in North Carolina or move into the state with one? The following provides you with information on what you need when purchasing a gun in North Carolina or moving into the state with a gun.

If you want to purchase a gun in North Carolina, you have to acquire a permit from your county sheriffs' office. In order to do so, you must:
  • be a U.S. citizen or have a similar residential status;
  • be at least 21 years of age;
  • have a certain minimum time of residence in the county (Mecklenburg County: 1 month); and
  • provide a valid drivers license or other picture ID with current address issued in North Carolina.
You will also need to get a permit if you want to carry a concealed weapon. In addition to the above outlined requirements, you will have to complete a training course.

If you are moving to North Carolina from another state, you will not have to acquire a new permit to carry your gun because North Carolina does not require gun owners to be listed.

For more information on guns in Mecklenburg County, please visit the website of the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office or contact Tamara Rhode at the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office (Phone: 704.336.8731; Fax: 704.432.5246).

(c) Picture:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

NCBA Int'l Section Event on Friday in Charlotte, NC

The North Carolina Bar Association
International Law & Practice Section

in cooperation with

The Charlotte School of Law

Invites all Members of the International Law & Practice Section to attend

on Friday, August 26, 2011
10:45 AM – 1:30 PM
a Presentation and Luncheon*

"Politics and Precedents in Germany"


Prof. Dr. Thomas Lundmark
Professor of Common Law & Comparative Jurisprudence
at University of Münster, Germany

10:45 AM – 12:10 PM Lecture (Rm. 402)

12:20 PM – 1:30 PM Luncheon (Rm. 408)

Charlotte School of Law 2145 Suttle Avenue, Charlotte, NC 28208

Thursday, August 25, 2011 by 3 PM (limited space available – first-come, first-served) or 704.333.5230

*You may attend both or either parts of the program, as your schedules permit.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

North Carolina Drivers License Requirements

Americans love cars and they heavily depend on them. Having a drivers license is therefore almost a life necessity here in the United States. Obtaining one, however, can be tricky since the requirements vary from state to state. Official sites can be difficult to navigate, especially for foreigners. In an effort to make the application for a North Carolina drivers license as easy as possible we would like to provide you with some useful information below.

When moving to North Carolina you must obtain a North Carolina drivers license before you can register a vehicle.

New residents are encouraged to become familiar with North Carolina license requirements and traffic laws. They must successfully complete the written, road sign recognition, and vision tests to obtain a North Carolina driver license. You can find detailed information regarding North Carolina drivers license testing clicking on this link.

Step 1: Apply for a Driver's License
All new residents of North Carolina who plan to operate a motor vehicle in the state must obtain a drivers license within 60 days of establishing a permanent residence. To apply, you must appear in person at one of the state’s drivers license offices and take the required tests. You can find the different drivers license office locations here.

You will need to bring 4 documents with you:

1. Proof of Residency
The proof of residency includes providing your name and current address. Listed below are examples of documents you can use:
- Military orders
- Immigration & Naturalization Service documents
- Matricula Consular issued by the Mexican consulate for North Carolina
- Correspondence from the Social Security Administration
- A pre-printed bank or other corporate statement (i.e. bank statement)
- Apartment lease (from an identifiable company), housing contract, or mortgage statement.

2. Proof of Age & Identity
You will need 2 documents from this category. One of those documents must be a Social Security Card or documentation issued by the U. S. Government indicating legal presence. If you are not eligible for a Social Security Card, you must provide documentation issued by the U. S. Government indicating your legal presence in this country.

Listed below are examples of documents you can use:
- Driver license
- Birth Certificate
- Original Social Security Card
- U.S. Military ID
- Valid, unexpired passport from any nation.

3. Proof of Liability Insurance
Your vehicle must be insured by a company licensed to do business in the State of North Carolina when registering it. This includes providing documents that show your name, the effective date of policy, the expiration date of the policy, and the date the policy was issued.

You may still apply for a license if you do not own a currently registered vehicle, but a restriction will be placed on your drivers license. It limits you to only driving “fleet vehicles.”

The following list shows examples of documents you can use:
- DMV form DL- 123
- An original liability insurance policy binder
- An insurance card with: your name, policy number, issue and expiration date.

Step 2: Vehicle Emissions and Safety Inspection
When you are moving to North Carolina from another state, you will be allowed to register your vehicle without an initial inspection. When your next annual registration renewal is due, you must have the vehicle inspected up to 90 days prior to the plate expiration date.

You can find several inspection station locations here.

Step 3: Title and Register a Vehicle
Upon moving to North Carolina from another state, you must register your motor vehicle at the expiration of the time granted by the reciprocity agreement between North Carolina and your prior state of residence (usually 30 days) or when gainful employment is accepted, whichever occurs first.

You should obtain a North Carolina drivers license prior to registering a vehicle.

When moving within North Carolina you will need to apply for a duplicate drivers license to notify the DMV of your change your address.

If you move to a county that requires “emissions inspections,” your vehicle will need to undergo a safety and emissions inspection up to 90 days prior to the next plate expiration date. Counties that require an emission inspection can be found here.

Step 1: Apply for a Duplicate License

To apply for a duplicate license you must go to a DMV Driver License Office or use the online service. The online service is only available if the DMV has your last image on file or your valid Social Security Number (SSN), Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) or a U.S. Government document indicating legal presence on file.

For requesting your Duplicate License in person you need to bring your original license and pay a Duplicate License Fee of $10.00. Payment transactions at DMV Offices are limited to cash, money order or personal checks. Debit and credit cards are not accepted.

Step 2: Emissions Inspection (see above)

An acceptable drivers license from your country of residence must be presented at the time of rental. The drivers license must be valid for the entire rental period. If the drivers license is in a language other than English and the rental is in the United States an international drivers permit is recommended.
A valid drivers license issued from your home country must always be presented, whether or not you possess an international drivers permit. You will not be allowed to rent a vehicle with only an international drivers permit.

Generally the rental car companies require also a credit card (or debit card at participating locations) in the driver’s name and a passport.

Under the United Nations Convention on Road Traffic, Geneva (1949) a German drivers license can be used to drive and/or rent a motor vehicle for up to one year while visiting the United states. The law enforcement authorities in North Carolina do not honor an International Drivers License. A valid license issued by a government agency from a home state or country is required to legally drive in North Carolina.

To simplify the procedure and avoid linguistic problems, it would be convenient to have both, a valid license issued by a government from a home state as well as an International Drivers License.

For more information, please contact one of our dedicated attorneys in the Charlotte, NC office of our firm.

(c) Picture: