Motorist passed out in coffee shop drive-thru had fentanyl in his blood

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A Lambton County man found passed out behind the wheel of a running vehicle in a coffee shop drive-thru had several drugs, including fentanyl, in his system.

But the August 2019 incident wasn’t enough of a wakeup call for Christian George, who was caught stoned behind the wheel again on Christmas Day.

Now, though, it seems he’s learned his lesson. George, a 27-year-old Kettle and Stony Point First Nation resident, has stayed away from drugs since spending the holidays in handcuffs.

“He is over the addiction issues which were plaguing him in the recent past,” defence lawyer Ken Marley said to a Sarnia judge. “Hopefully the court finds in that some measure of encouragement as this young man tries to move forward with his life.”

After pleading guilty this past week in Sarnia court to two counts of impaired driving and one count of refusing to give samples of bodily fluids, George told the judge he’s “doing very well” with his sobriety. Justice Deborah Austin said she hopes he can keep it up.

“Because it was very dangerous for you, and of course, for others when you were behind the wheel of a vehicle,” she said.

The court heard Anishinabek police were called about a car parked with its engine running in the Kettle Point Country Style drive-thru shortly before 2 p.m. on Aug. 1, 2019. Everyone in the beige 2004 Mitsubishi was sleeping, including George, the driver. Police woke George up and noticed he had “constricted pupils, a lost and hazy look on his face, as well as slow and deliberate movements,” assistant Crown attorney Aniko Coughlan told the court.

George was arrested and taken to Lambton OPP headquarters in Petrolia and Bluewater Health for drug testing. A toxicology report found several drugs in his blood, including fentanyl, etizolam and tetrahydrocannabinol.

Police were called again around 8 p.m. on Christmas Day about the same car driving erratically on Lakeshore Road near Kettle Point. George was driving and once again had constricted pupils and seemed “extremely nervous,” Coughlan said. Police also found drug paraphernalia in the car, the court heard.

This time he refused to go to the hospital for testing.

Marley suggested a $1,000 fine for each impaired conviction and $2,000 for the refusal. Coughlan, who pointed out it was “very concerning” that George had people with him in the car both times, suggested a $1,200 fine for the drive-thru incident and $1,500 for the poor driving along with $2,000 for the refusal.

Austin sided with the Crown, calling the fines “significant” but “appropriate,” but waived victim-fine surcharges.

The judge also imposed a two-year driving ban.