Alcohol farm

Lambton County migrant farm worker caught driving work truck with booze in the system

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A Lambton County migrant farm worker has been convicted of reckless driving after he was caught driving a work truck with alcohol in the vehicle and his body.

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The court heard Sarnia Police warn Lambton OPP that a white Ford F-150 was driving erratically as it headed towards Plympton-Wyoming on August 23, 2021. An officer caught up with the van on the London Line near Oil Heritage Road on Monday and fired after seeing it swerve and change lanes frequently.

The officer checked the plates and learned that the van belonged to Roelands Plant Farms Inc.

“The officer noticed open liquor bottles in the back of the truck,” Assistant Crown Attorney Nila Mulpuru said as she read an agreed statement of facts in court.

While there was a language barrier, the officer on site – awaiting the arrival of a Spanish-speaking officer – still noticed that Juan Monzon-Cante had bright eyes. Monzon-Cante, who lives on-site at the Lambton County Vegetable Farm, was also “very” unsteady on her feet and stumbled on her way out.

Monzon-Cante failed a roadside breathalyzer test and was arrested. On Thursday, he pleaded guilty to reckless driving under the Highway Traffic Act.

Initially faced with charges under both the Criminal Code and the Highway Traffic Act, the Crown chose to pursue only one charge under the latter statute. This was due in part to the impact a criminal conviction would have on Monzon-Cante’s immigration and employment status, Mulpuru told the judge.

The court did not hear what country Monzon-Cante is from, but he had no criminal or driving record in Canada.

But Mulpuru asked for a “hefty” $2,000 fine for misbehavior and alcohol, as well as a one-year driver’s license suspension.

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Duty counsel Matt Stone said Monzon-Cante is a minimum-wage farm worker who has had an “incredibly” difficult experience with COVID-19.

“Obviously $2,000 would be a lot of money for someone with their income,” Stone said as he asked the judge to reduce the fine.

” I beg your pardon. I am very sad about what happened,” Monzon-Cante said through an interpreter.

Judge Deborah Austin agreed to reduce the fine to $1,500 and gave him a year to pay it.

“Gracious,” he replied.

His license was suspended for a year, but all other outstanding charges were dropped.

“Thank you very much for this opportunity and I promise you it won’t happen again,” he said through the interpreter.

“Very well,” replied the judge. “That’s the important message, sir.”

The owners of Roelands Plant Farms did not respond to a press request on Friday whether the sentencing would affect Monzon-Cante’s employment there.

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