Feb 05, 2015 - BUS TO HELP BUST IMPAIRED DRIVERS [Alexa Middelaer]

North District RCMP traffic service Staff Sgt. Al Steinhauser opens the door to one of the bays inside Alexa's bus, a 33-foot long mobile impaired driving testing unit that will be out on area highways until March 2.

North District RCMP on the lookout for drunk drivers on the region's highways stand to save plenty of time processing their suspects for the next few weeks, thanks to the recent arrival of Alexa's Bus.

Named after Alexa Middelaer, the four-year-old who was killed in 2008 by an impaired driver while feeding a horse at the side of a road in Delta, the 33-foot long RV will be deployed at roadblocks along Highway 16 and 97 until March 2.

Made distinctive by its bright purple colour, decals identifying it as a police vehicle, and a "4 Alexa" licence plate on the back, its interior is equipped with all police need to deal with drivers suspected of being impaired not only by alcohol but also other types of drugs.

There are even privacy rooms with cellphones where a suspect can call a lawyer prior to going through the two breathalyzer test required under the law. And it comes with exterior jacks to make sure the RV is level when suspects are asked to show sobriety by walking in a straight line.

Other features include a dark room for checking the reactiveness of the pupils of drivers suspected to be on drugs even in the middle of the day, an on-board computer system to deal with the paperwork, and a close-circuit video camera system that allows all arrests to be recorded for court purposes.

Those found to be over the limit will be taken away while police can continue to man the roadblock, rather than having to drive a suspect back into Prince George before formal testing can even begin.

"Now, we can stay out there and make a difference," Cpl. John Graham said.

Before the immediate roadside prohibition process was introduced, Graham said the RCMP would set up a roadblock at the Bobtail forest service road and their night would be over after apprehending four or five suspects.

Alexa's Bus will be out on area highways for the duration of the Canada Winter Games.

"We won't be targeting venues or anything like that, but we know there are areas where we have a problem," said Graham. "Highway 16 West has a huge crash picture, so there will be evenings where this will be deployed out on the highway at a roadblock between Vanderhoof and Prince George or other communities."

Since Middelaer's death, her parents have become strong anti-drunk driving advocates and are known for Alexa's Team, which acknowledges police efforts to reduce driving under the influence.

In all, the rig cost $440,000 to purchase and equip, with $300,000 raised by the Middelaers, $100,000 contributed by the federal government and $40,000 by the provincial government.

The bus was first deployed in December during the Counterattack campaign in the Lower Mainland and it is the first time it has come up to northern B.C. More visits are expected to follow.

Source: Prince George Citizen


Last updated on: 2015-04-06 | Link to this post