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P.E.I. man back in court on cocaine trafficking charge weeks after being convicted of impaired driving

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Driver last week fined $2,600 for driving offence

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A P.E.I. man recently sentenced to five days in custody and a $2,600 fine for impaired operation of a vehicle will be heading back to court in early February on a drug trafficking charge.

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In September of 2022, members of the Queens District RCMP responded to a complaint about an impaired driver in York, notes a police statement this week. Upon locating the driver, officers determined that he was impaired.

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“Impairment is shown by physical symptoms, such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, the smell of alcohol, unsteadiness on your feet or a lack of co-ordination. It may also be shown by the way you drive,” according to the P.E.I. government.

  1. here are currently two approved roadside drug screening devices used in Canada, SoToxa and the Dräger DrugTest 5000. /

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  2. The charges followed a Jan. 10, 2021 traffic stop related to a drug investigation. / PHOTO BY GLETI / ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS

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  3. The driver was arrested and is now facing a charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. /

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For a first offence, an impaired driving conviction (whether by alcohol or drugs) can result in cancellation of a person’s driver’s licence under P.E.I.’s Highway Traffic Act and, under the Criminal Code of Canada, a minimum one-year driving prohibition order. The minimum times “can be increased by the judge based on the severity of the offence,” the information points out.

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That said, getting a licence back requires clearing a number of hurdles, including having to reapply, paying a $750 reinstatement fee, having an ignition interlock device installed on a vehicle (after which a restricted licence or specially coded licence plate is issued) and completing a driver’s rehabilitation course.

Beyond determining that the driver was impaired, however, the police found and seized an unspecified amount of cocaine.

The law firm of Jaswal & Krueger reports someone who has an illegal substance on their person or in a place he or she controls, such as a house or car, can be charged with personal possession.

Anyone found guilty of an indictable offence for possessing a Schedule 1 drug like cocaine can face up to seven years in prison upon conviction. For a first offence punishable on summary conviction, the maximum penalties are a $1,000 fine, six months in prison or both.

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Late last week, the driver was convicted and received a sentence of five days in custody and a $2,600 fine on the impaired operation charge.

Though the driver was charged with the driving offence after the incident, he did not immediately face drug-related charges related to the cocaine.

That has now changed, with the RCMP reporting this week that its ongoing probe into the cocaine seizure unearthed additional evidence. A new charge of possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking has now been laid.

The Public Prosecution Service of Canada reports the minimum penalty for possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking — depending on whether or not, among other things, there are aggravating factors such as being for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a criminal organization, or the person was previously convicted of a designated drug offence — is one years’ incarceration upon conviction.

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The RCMP does not specify the amount of cocaine found. Addiction Center, citing the World Drug Report, notes that cocaine in the U.S. costs between US$25 ($34) and US$200 ($268) a gram, with typical prices checking in at about US$112 per gram.

The RCMP notes the accused is scheduled to appear in court on the new charge on Feb. 8.

Just last month, in advance of the holiday season, an impaired driving blitz on the Island led to charges against 10 individuals, including five drivers suspected of being under the influence of cannabis.

Still in Atlantic Canada that month, this time in Newfoundland and Labrador, police set up roadside checkpoints in at least eight locations across the province and the campaign involving 1,200-plus vehicles led to just four arrests. Two drivers were facing possible cannabis impairment charges, with officers waiting for the results of blood samples to determine if charges are appropriate.

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