Education and enforcement was the order of business for Alexa’s Bus during its two-day visit to Penticton this week.
The police Mobile Road Safety Unit made stops at Penticton Secondary and Princess Margaret schools Wednesday and was on the road checking for impaired drivers Thursday afternoon and evening.
The bus is named after Alexa Renee Middelaer, the four-year-old Lower Mainland girl who was struck and killed by an impaired driver in 2008.
Alexa had been feeding a horse on the side of the road when she was hit and the image on the back of the bus, which contains holding cells, a breathalyzer and other enforcement tools, is of a little girl feeding a horse with a Mountie in the saddle.
Her story resulted in a turning point in the way impaired drivers are now dealt with in B.C.
Her legacy includes the Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) which began in 2010 giving police the authority to automatically suspend licenses and the $300,000 mobile unit which Alexa’s parents helped generate support for.
Initially the goal of the mobile unit was to reduce related fatalities by 35 per cent in three years however that figure was far surpassed with the actual number being 52 per cent.
This was the second time the vehicle has been in this area, having been here last June.
Quick facts about the mobile unit:
• Under the IRP program, the penalties for a “warn” IRP (0.05 blood alcohol content 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.