Getting drunks off the roads in the dead of winter or in the wee hours of the night isn’t a task for the faint of heart, but local Mounties have found ample cause to keep going.
“The motivation is to prevent fatalities and injuries,” said Const. Brad Smith, who specializes in impaired driving enforcement.
“You only have to have been to a few crash sites, and that sets the tone for the work.”
Smith was among 19 Kelowna officers from the Central Okanagan honoured Tuesday by the BCAA Road Safety Foundation and named to Alexa’s Team for getting a significant amount of drinking drivers off the road.
Their combined efforts amounted to 952 fewer impaired drivers on the roads, and Smith’s contribution to that bounty was most significant, at 149.
His success, he said, is largely attributable to the province’s Immediate Roadside Prohibition legislation.
“With the IRP program I was able to get eight (drinking drivers) a night,” he said. “When the IRP fail provision was suspended, the most I can get now is three.”
Paperwork associated with arresting an impaired driver and pressing a criminal charge is onerous, he explained, and that diverts his time from enforcement efforts.
The other negative impact from the recent court ordered pause on the IRP fail provision, is that there’s a change in mindset.
“We noticed there were less impaired drivers when we had the fail provision, and more after it went on hold,” he said. “I don’t know that for sure… I have no figures.”
Alexa’s Team is a project started by Laurel and Michael Middelaer following the tragic death of their four-year-old daughter Alexa in May 2008.
The woman convicted in 2010 of drunk driving causing the four year old’s death, appealed her conviction and is awaiting a decision, but the family has continued to lobby for changes in impaired driving enforcement regardless.
This year rewards from those efforts are tangible said Laurel Middelaer. Provincial statistics showed a marked decrease in drinking driving fatalities.
“I feel safer by having you on the roads,” she told the room of police officers gathered, Tuesday.
“Because of you, 45 families, communities and schools didn’t have to face what I did.”
The program is in its fourth year and has grown from 26 members in the Lower Mainland to 355 Mounties provincewide. Since its early days, Alexa Team members must have processed 32,743 impaired riving charges or penalties against drivers in violation of B.C.’s impaired driving laws.
To be nominated for Alexa’s Team, police officers must have removed at least 12 impaired drivers from the road in the previous calendar year through Criminal Charge investigation of the Immediate Roadside Prohibition administrative process.
- Const. Chad Lucash
- Const. Brad Smith
- Const. Micha Yakonowsky
- Cpl. Mike McVicar
- Const. Sheldon Herman
- Const. Troy LaPlante
- Const. Kyle Boffy
- Const. Vince Cesarone
- Const. Jon Leroux
- Const. Beth Paetz
- Const. Ryan Bennett
- Const. Chris Neid
- Const. Bob Charron
- Const. Tibor Baldauf
- Const. Gevan Dale
- Const. Gabi Prommer
- Const. Cory Schneider
- Cpl. Jayson Lucash
- Const. Kent Hall