Paradise man who drove drunk three times in 10 months sentenced

Rosie Mullaley
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Dennis Harold Lawlor, 39, is brought into court today by a sheriff's officer. — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

A Paradise man who drove drunk three times in 10 months has been given a 4 1/2 month intermittent jail term and was banned from driving for five years.

The sentence for Dennis Harold Lawlor, 39, was handed down this morning in provincial court in St. John's.

"In drunk driving cases, denunciation and deterrence are important because the public is put at risk," Judge Lois Skanes said.

"It's only luck nobody was seriously injured or killed in this case."

Lawlor's first, and most serious incident happened July 12, 2012. While driving a dump truck for a construction company, he was exiting the Trans Canada Highway on Route 41B, just outside the city, when he went off the road and rolled the truck.

It took rescue crews two hours to get Lawlor out of the truck. He suffered cracked ribs on both sides of his body and a punctured lung.

Once his blood was checked, he had an alcohol reading of almost four times the legal amount.

The second incident happened Sept. 15, 2012, when he hit a parked car outside Tols Timeout lounge in Mount Pearl and took off before then hitting a gas pump on Topsail Road.

And on May 29 of this year, he was driving a pickup truck, when he rear-ended a dump truck.

Lawlor pleaded guilty to two counts of failing the breathalyzer and single counts of refusing the breathalyzer and leaving the scene of an accident.

When he was given the chance to speak, Lawlor admitted he had a serious drinking problem and plans to get help.

"I've truly learned from my mistakes. I know I've done wrong in the past," he said. "I am getting help and I'm going to continue with that and get my life back on track. It's important I make up for lost time with my family," added Lawlor, who has a son. "It's a problem I have to overcome."

The judge gave Lawlor 44 days credit for the time he's spent in custody, leaving 90 days left on his term.

The sentence, which will be served on weekends, also included a year's probation, with conditions that he continue with counselling for his alcohol dependency.

"Good luck to you, Mr. Lawlor," Skanes said before Lawlor left the courtroom.



Geographic location: Paradise, St. John's, Mount Pearl

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Recent comments

  • Gerri
    July 18, 2013 - 12:30

    Sadly I concur with all the below comments. We look to our elected officials and court systems to exercise their authority to keep law abiding citizens safe in this province. We are paying taxes for such a purpose but like the health care system this system too is failing us. Sadly enough, putting an alcoholic in jail without treatment is like putting a cup of water on a forest will not help the problem at all, just keep that person off the streets for a few days only re-offend when they get out and possibly end some innocent person's life. Wake up you people in positions of authority...this is the 21st century....we need you to be accountable for the safety of us citizens. We also need more treatment centers properly staffed. The sentence for such offences should be at least 6-months to one year in an accredited treatment center. Yes, this will be a cost to the taxpayers in the end but like the healthcare system...what is the point of having anything else if people are getting killed by drunk drivers and dying due to lack of health care....we're all tax payers and I don't know about anyone else but I would rather see my taxes increase if it would ensure better services that may help all of us have a better qualtiy and duration of life!! What else is there??

  • Paradise Parrent
    July 16, 2013 - 06:59

    Shame on you Judge Lois Skanes, you should loose your position for this joke of a sentance. This is no mesage to be sending to the drunk drivers of this province. Tripple offenses and all you did was take away his license and weekends? Big whoop! People who drink and drive don't give a d@nm if they are breaking the law. They just don't care. Do you think that if they dont have a plastic card (license) in their wallet/purse that that is going to stop them from driving too? Tell me, does it rain gum drops in your world, Lois? I'll call you Lois cause there is nothing "honorable" about the sentance you passed.

  • Parent
    July 12, 2013 - 06:07

    The judge got this one wrong. This man should be behind bars for years and never be allowed behind the wheel of a vehicle again. He had three separate charges that were treated as one? Each charge should have been dealt with separately, with the penalty escalating for each progressive charge. He'll be back on the streets driving drunk. I only pray that he doesn't kill someone in the meantime. Our judicial and legal systems are failing us, the law-abiding citizens.

  • David
    July 11, 2013 - 21:46

    I have a son also.Mr Lawlor.Hope he's not the unfortunate one that you hurt or kill on the highway thru your stupidity.of drinking and driving.Hope your son don't follow in your footsteps..How many times were you on the road intoxicated.that you weren't caught...When you get out of jail,you and judge Lois Skanes should go have a round of drink's and talk about what you learned while you were SOBER...

  • dump truck
    July 11, 2013 - 18:55

    Scumbag!! Leave em in jail!! Too many innocient kids in Paradise at risk!!

  • Mark
    July 11, 2013 - 18:04

    There obviously needs to be stiffer punishment for people who drink and drive, ESPECIALLY repeat offenders. This man should have received 2 years less a day, not to make an example out of him, but it should be the norm for a multiple offender who obviously never learned his lesson. He'll keep doing it and keep getting caught until he hurts someone. Only then will he get the punishment he deserves and this sort of behavior be taken a little more seriously.

  • Bob
    July 11, 2013 - 15:12

    Thank heaven this nuisance belongs to Paradise and not here in CBS. But I question the wisdom of the judge. Who's to say this clown won't reoffend Monday to Friday? She needs a stiff drink.

    • maxine
      July 11, 2013 - 18:33

      hey bob do not count your chickens before they are hatched this is a on going thing in c bs so you should eat your words

  • sc
    July 11, 2013 - 13:54

    The police catch drunk drivers who risk the lives of everyone around them, and then the courts let these people off, even those with multiple convictions, with a mere slap on the wrist. One must wonder why the police, frequently aided by concerned citizens, even bother trying to get these drunks off the roads when the courts obviously don't take drunk driving seriously. Apparently all it takes here in NL to get such a ridiculously light sentence is to say 'sorry'. This is absolutely disgusting.

    • rosena
      July 11, 2013 - 16:16

      I agree with you 150%,the courts are too easy dui's.

  • david
    July 11, 2013 - 13:01

    Drunk driving is an epidemic, a scourge in Newfoundland. It isn't a crime, it's a hobby. As many times as people are caught, you can rest assured they have done it twenty times more often. This place is a socially backward dive, where your chances of dying behind the wheel are egregiously high....people need to suffer much stiffer sentences for a first offense, and the government should be held accountable with a giant, class-action lawsuit.

  • Calvin
    July 11, 2013 - 12:40

    Hahaha, unless he is kept behind bars he'll be at it again. Our magnificient justice system hard at work folks *sarcastic applause*.

  • Kim
    July 11, 2013 - 12:35

    Oh my god..!!! The court system is in need of a overhaul...Just like our pathetic government..Next time it could be someone belonging to the judge who is killed or hurt by this man..Who gave him a slap on the wrist,,Then has the GALL to say GOOD luck to him....

  • sparky
    July 11, 2013 - 12:22

    When this goof kills a child playing on the street, THEN I guess we`ll see some real justice!

  • Again
    July 11, 2013 - 10:54

    He'll be back again. A few years ago I was in the lineup at the dump behind a garbage truck, not a city truck, about 3 pm. Beside the driver was an open case of beer.