Paradise man who drove drunk three times in 10 months admits his drinking has to stop
Dennis Harold Lawlor, who pleaded guilty to several charges in connection with three drunk driving-related incidents, was sentenced to a 4 1/2-month intermittent jail term Thursday in provincial court in St. John’s.
— Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram
Dennis Harold Lawlor knows he has a drinking problem. But it seems it’s taken three serious car accidents to make him realize he’s got to stop.
“I’ve truly learned from my mistakes. I know I’ve done wrong in the past,” Lawlor said minutes before getting sentenced in provincial court in St. John’s Thursday.
“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’ve got to overcome. It’s no life like this.”
The 39-year-old was given a 4 1/2-month jail term, with 44 days credit for the time he’s spent in custody, leaving 90 days left on his term.
In handing down her sentence, Judge Lois Skanes agreed to make it an intermittent sentence to allow Lawlor, who has a son and a job, to serve his jail time on weekends.
The sentence also included a year’s probation, with conditions that he continue with counselling for his alcohol dependency.
Lawlor is also banned from driving for five years.
“In drunk driving cases, denunciation and deterrence are important because the public is put at risk,” Skanes said.
“It’s only luck nobody was injured — other than yourself — 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, it was discovered he had an alcohol reading of almost four times the legal limit.
The second incident happened Sept. 15, 2012, when Lawlor smashed into a parked car outside Tols Timeout Lounge in Mount Pearl and took off before hitting a gas pump on Topsail Road.
On May 29 of this year, he was driving a pickup truck, when he rear-ended a dump truck.
That’s when police took him into custody.
Lawlor pleaded guilty to two counts of failing the breathalyzer and single counts of refusing the breathalyzer and leaving the scene of an accident.
He has one prior impaired driving conviction from 2009.
Crown prosecutor Dana Sullivan said straight jail time was warranted for Lawlor, whose offences put people in serious danger.
Lawlor’s lawyer, John McGrath, asked the judge to consider an intermittent sentence, since he has several responsibilities in his life.
While Skanes agreed to the intermittent sentence, she admitted “this is the very lowest I would go for all three (incidents).”
When proceedings came to an end and before Lawlor left the courtroom, Skanes said, “Good luck to you, Mr. Lawlor.”