As of Tuesday, March 14, 2017
The liquor license renewal of the Dufur Pastime was put on hold during an investigation following a fatal crash involving patrons of the Pastime, but the state found no violations by the Pastime and its license was renewed last month.
The hold was lifted Feb. 7. The Pastime was fully operational while the renewal hold was in place, and the renewal is now considered effective as of Oct. 1, 2016, said a spokeswoman for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
The renewal process was put on hold last fall after Wasco County Sheriff Lane Magill recommended against renewing it following the crash, which killed two people. They had been drinking at the Pastime and crashed shortly after they left.
Magill argued that the crash, plus six drunk driving arrests stretching back to 2010 of drivers who admitted to drinking at the Pastime, constituted a “serious and persistent history of problems.”
The “serious and persistent history” standard is difficult to meet, and OLCC investigators did not find that the events presented rose to that level, said Christie Scott of the OLCC.
The OLCC did provide education to the Pastime staff on over-service of alcohol, she said.
“They’re continuing to work with them and the sheriff’s office, just to try to stay on top of things, and they say the licensee is cooperating,” Scott said.
In a statement through his attorney, Tom Peachey, Pastime owner Cliff Wirtz said, “The Dufur Pastime Restaurant is pleased that the OLCC has granted a full renewal of its service privileges. We make and have made every effort to conduct our business and serve our customers not only in compliance with Oregon law but also out of respect to all of our patrons and the community of Dufur. We look forward to working with local law enforcement and the city to foster a working and cooperative relationship. We are excited and anticipate a future of serving quality meals and beverages to the fine citizens of Dufur and Wasco County and hope to see you soon.”
Magill said, “I realize this isn't the news I wanted to hear and I made it very clear if I didn't think the results were satisfactory I would be moving it to the next level. During my conversation with OLCC I asked a lot of questions about compliance and quite frankly the attitude of the owner. To put it in a nutshell, OLCC advised Cliff he was treading on "thin" ice and was under a microscope, and according to OLCC he gets it.”
Magill added, “Like I stated, this isn't the outcome I really wanted to hear, however after speaking with OLCC I'm willing to let them move forward without taking the extra step with the OLCC at this time. I made it very clear that we would be ramping up patrols in the area and watching for any activity in case they decided to not follow the rules. And if this happens I will be contacting OLCC. So every time there is an incident directly or indirectly related to the Pastime, this information will be passed along to OLCC.”
Scott said it can be hard to prove over-service of alcohol, which is defined as selling alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person. The threshold is proving the server knew the person was visibly intoxicated and made a decision to continue to serve.
Without an admission or video showing a person falling off a bar stool, for example, it’s difficult to prove, she said.
“The criminal threshold is actually lower than our administrative threshold, so police would actually have a better chance of maintaining that ticket than we would as an administrative violation,” Scott said.
As part of the investigation of the crash, which killed driver Tamara Kucher and Hunter Spears, one of her three passengers, toxicology reports were done.
They showed Kucher’s blood-alcohol concentration was .10, above the legal limit of .08. She also had in her system trazadone, a prescription sleep aid, and an anti-depressant.
Spears had a blood-alcohol concentration of .03, well below the legal limit.