OPP charge driver caught with 326 cases of beer from Quebec

Officers found 326 cases of beer in a van pulled over Wednesday on Highway 401 near Belleville, Ont. (Supplied by OPP - image credit)
Officers found 326 cases of beer in a van pulled over Wednesday on Highway 401 near Belleville, Ont. (Supplied by OPP - image credit)

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have charged the driver of a rental van with unlawfully possessing 326 cases of beer purchased in Quebec and brought into Ontario.

Officers with the OPP's Lennox and Addington detachment seized the beer after responding to reports of a disabled vehicle on Highway 401 near Belleville, Ont., shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday.

According to OPP, the officers followed rim marks left along the westbound shoulder of the highway until they located the van. The vehicle's left rear wheel had been shorn down to its hub and was beginning to smoke from the heat, police said.

The driver, a 30-year-old Toronto man, pulled over without incident, OPP said.

According to OPP, the 30-year-old driver admitted he'd purchased the beer in Quebec for a wedding and not for his personal use. (Supplied by OPP)

That's when officers noticed four cases of beer in the front passenger seat. The packaging was in French only, OPP said.

"When questioned about the beer the driver was evasive. When confronted about the transportation of the beer from Quebec the driver again became evasive," OPP wrote in a news release Thursday.

A further search of the van found the rest of the beer — 326 cases in all, both cans and bottles of various brands.

Beer bought for wedding: OPP

According to OPP, the driver admitted the beer hadn't been purchased in Ontario, and said it was for a wedding rather than his personal use.

The driver was charged with unlawfully possessing liquor, unlawfully purchasing liquor and operating an unsafe vehicle. OPP seized the beer and had the van towed.

"Liquor purchased from Quebec and transported to another province must be for personal use only. [The] driver admitted it was not for his personal use," an OPP spokesperson clarified in an email.

When officers pulled the van over, its left rear tire had blown and the rim was shorn down to the hub, OPP said. (Supplied by OPP)

In 2018, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled that Canadians do not have a constitutional right to buy and transport alcohol across provincial borders, ending a New Brunswick man's five-year legal fight for the right to stock up on cheaper beer from Quebec.

The nine-justice panel said provinces have the right to restrict the import of goods from another province, as long as the primary aim of the restriction is not to impede trade.

While Ontario removed limits the following year on the quantity of liquor, beer or wine individuals can bring into the province, it must be for personal consumption and not for resale or commercial use.