The Province and its road safety partners honoured the life and legacy of Alexa Middelaer today with the unveiling of a new mobile road safety unit - Alexa’s bus - to be used as a tool in the fight against drinking and driving.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton joined the Middelaer family, RCMP and municipal police members, Alexa’s Team members, partners, and more than 40 students from Southridge School in Surrey for the unveiling at the Justice Institute of British Columbia. Most of the Southridge students are in Grade 6, the grade Alexa would be in today if she had not been tragically killed by a drunk driver in 2008.
Alexa’s story inspired a turning point in B.C.’s history. Her legacy includes the Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) program, enacted in 2010 to get tough on drinking and driving, protect British Columbians, and save lives. The Province set a goal at that time to reduce drinking and driving fatalities by 35% by the end of 2013 in honour of Alexa. That goal was far surpassed, with an unprecedented 52% fewer deaths three years after the IRP program was launched.
Today, Anton announced that, as of June 30, 2014, the IRP program has contributed to an estimated 227 lives saved and a 54% reduction in alcohol-related fatalities.
British Columbians will soon see Alexa’s Bus at major public events and on roads in their communities. While it will be used to educate people about the dangers of drinking and driving, it will also help police take drivers who have been drinking and using drugs off the road. Alexa’s Bus houses criminal evidentiary breath testing equipment and mobile work stations to enable Criminal Code impaired driving cases to be processed at the roadside. There is also private space on board for accused drivers to consult with lawyers.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton -
“This is an important day in our fight against drinking and driving in British Columbia, and I would like to express our gratitude to the Middelaer family who have been tremendous advocates for positive change in B.C. Their willingness to share Alexa’s story with British Columbians has led to 227 more people making it home to their families since 2010.
“The Middelaer family inspired B.C. to get tough on drinking and driving, and we continue to lead the way nationally with our Immediate Roadside Prohibition program. Alexa’s Bus is a legacy in her memory that will allow police to do even more to protect road users across the province.”
Laurel Middelaer, road safety advocate -
“As Alexa’s family, we have been honoured to collaborate with friends, police and government to find positive in the midst of loss - and to honour our amazing daughter in a meaningful and lasting way. As such, today is an important marker of progress in that journey. With the launch of Alexa’s Bus, we are deeply pleased that many talented and committed hands and minds have come together to deliver a truly innovative platform that will help ensure that B.C.’s roads become the safest in Canada. British Columbians should be confident and proud to have the most advanced road safety technology in their communities that will both educate drivers and enhance enforcement efforts.
“Choice, action and partnership can bring much change and goodness. We thank the many in B.C., who, through working together, have accomplished much for the benefit of many. Alexa must be proud of the difference that has been made.”
Chief Neil Dubord, BC Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee chair -
“Alexa’s story hits home for police officers across B.C. who are committed to protecting families from the devastating effects of drinking drivers. The new mobile road safety unit, named in Alexa’s memory, will help us do more to enforce the laws of the road, directly at the roadside. It is really about community and how we can all work together to reduce the dangers and tragic consequences of drinking and driving.”
- Alexa’s Bus cost an estimated $300,000. Funds were raised by the Province, ICBC, BCAA, the business community, Southridge School students, and other private donors.
- Alexa’s Team is a program that recognizes RCMP and municipal police officers who make extraordinary contributions to reducing the number of impaired drivers on B.C. roads.
- Since 2008, Alexa’s Team members have processed more than 50,000 impaired driving charges and administrative penalties.
- Under the IRP program, the penalties for a “warn” IRP (0.05 blood alcohol content (BAC) and above) include the immediate seizure of a driver’s licence for at least three days, a possible three-day vehicle impoundment, and $200 administrative penalty.
- For a “fail” IRP (0.08 BAC and above), the penalties include the immediate seizure of a driver’s licence for 90 days, a 30-day vehicle impoundment, and $500 administrative penalty.
- As of July 31, 2014:
- More than 72,200 IRPs have been issued since the program’s inception in September 2010.
- Of the total number of IRPs issued, over 25,700 drivers blew in the “warn” range and over 46,500 blew in the “fail” range, or refused to provide a breath sample.
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Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice