Oregon Dram Shop Law Hangs Over Head of Convicted Portland Drunk Driver

A Multnomah County man convicted in a drunk driving incident that seriously injured two pedestrians has already been sentenced to nearly six years in prison, but faces additional time behind bars if he refuses to cooperate with a related Oregon dram shop law case pending in civil court, according to The Oregonian.

The newspaper reports that Dallas Lawrence, now 25, struck two women after he left a bar while clearly drunk last February. His Oregon drunk driving conviction in the criminal case growing out of the incident is separate from the potential Portland dram shop law case focused on the bar that allegedly continued to serve Lawrence. That case turns on the allegation that the bar allowed Lawrence to get into his car and drive off into the night despite being so drunk that, according to The Oregonian, he “fell off his bar stool” before heading out to the parking lot.

The paper reports that Lawrence’s two victims have not yet filed suit against the bar where he spent the evening drinking. Lawrence faces an additional 2-1/2 years in prison if he does not cooperate, should a suit go forward.

Dram shop cases focus on the responsibility of bars or other alcohol vendors for the damage done by visibly intoxicated people whom they continue to serve. As The Oregonian notes, such cases “are relatively rare in Oregon, often because it’s difficult to prove in court that bar employees served a visibly intoxicated person.”
Lawrence’s case, however, would appear to offer proof that an experienced Oregon personal injury attorney well-versed in the specialized area of dram shop cases, can help accident victims get the justice they deserve. One of the women Lawrence hit was hurled 60 feet before hitting a parked car, according to The Oregonian. Conventional Portland drunk driving laws, especially those focused on criminal conduct alone, cannot make situations like these right. That is why Oregon’s dram shop laws, and the specialized Portland, Salem and Eugene lawyers who help enforce them, are so important.

The Oregonian: Portland man sentenced to six years for running down two pedestrians after night of heavy drinking