April 2014

DON'T GIVE UP YOUR COAST GUARD DOCUMENT WITHOUT A FIGHT!

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Hopefully, the day will not come when a Coast Guard officer approaches a mariner advising that an investigation is underway or a complaint is about to be filed regarding allegations of misconduct. Should that occur it is generally a bad idea to "voluntarily" surrender your Coast Guard documents/license before legal counsel is retained. Once the Coast Guard gets ahold of these papers it is not easy to get them back even if you are later exonerated from the "alleged" offense. The more wise course of action is to obtain legal advice. Deferring surrender of these documents is usually the best avenue to deal with the situation. If surrender is eventually necessary it can be accomplished with arrangements to make it the shortest time possible. Retrieving documents once surrendered can be a protracted period of time due to the inherent bureaucracies within any governmental agency.

QUESTION FROM THE BRIDGE

I received a call from a Coast Guard officer asking me to come into the local office and to bring my mariner's document. They advised me that there is a complaint to be issued for a failed drug test (marijuana) and voluntary surrender is the best course of action. I have never been involved with marijuana and am hesitant to agree with them. What should I do?
Donald - Portland, OR

Answer:
Donald,
Get legal assistance immediately! It is best to have legal counsel protect your interests throughout this process. A call from the Coast Guard is not unlike a call from the IRS! You may have a legitimate defense to any allegations. Certainly, there are other things and circumstances that can produce a positive marijuana test and your attorney can pursue a proper defense.

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For more than four decades, merchant mariners, longshoremen, fishermen and harbor workers plying their trades at sea, on the docks, on our U.S. coastal waters and inland waterways have turned to the maritime law firm of Lyle C. Cavin, Jr. & Associates in Oakland. Today, we are proud to be recognized as one of the preeminent maritime law firms serving injured marine workers nationwide, as well as one of the most successful personal injury litigation firms serving victims of negligence in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the West Coast.

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