Over the past decade, a program called Alexa’s Team has emerged to help combat influenced driving by recognizing RCMP and police officers who see driving under the influence as a major issue. The program was initiated after a hit and run in Delta that resulted in the death of a young girl.
“Over the last 10 years, there has been something developed called Alexa’s Team. There was an impaired driver who hit a little girl. The driver fled and left the girl at the scene and she died,” said Sgt. Will Thien of the Elk Valley RCMP.
It took a lot of resources to catch the driver who struck and killed Alexa Middelaer.
“The lady fled the scene. It took Delta police a very long time to find who the person may be,” said Thien. “They ended up having to do an undercover operation to find her. It was all over the media, yeah, she got convicted for it, but it took a lot of resources to do it.”
This unfortunate event moved lawmakers into taking a more aggressive stance on driving under the influence and the regulation of influencing substances.
“I think that prompted lawmakers and the legislative assembly who were looking at driving under the influence to say this has got to stop. The current government talks about legalizing marijuana; if it is legal you won’t get a peep from the police,” said Thien. “Alcohol is legal too, but it is regulated. Impaired driving has always been an issue, I think we need to swallow our pride and admit that alcohol impaired driving is an issue for everybody.”
Alexa’s Team uses the same principles and techniques to fight influenced driving. Breath administrations, or breathalyzers tests do give some flexibility to officers. If a drive blows over the legal blood alcohol content amount, what Thien refers to as 80, or 0.8, there are automatic punishments in place.
“If someone gets hurt we will go with a criminal charge for sure. If you blow a fail immediately, that means you’re over 100. If you blow an 80 then you’ll get a warrant instead of a fail. The instrument has been calibrated to allow leeway,” said Thien. “When the officer administers one on the side of the highway and you breathe into it, we have the option to do a second test to make sure that the first instrument is not out of wack. If you fail both the first and the second that tells us that you are well over 100mg per cent in your body, that’s 20 per cent over the legal limit. By 81 per cent, you are legally drunk. “
Alexa’s Team is another way to help combat intoxicated driving, specifically driving under the influence of alcohol. While the program may not have specifically evoked any new laws against driving under the influence, it helps officers be more aggressive against this sort of dangerous behaviour.
“They are encouraged to see impaired driving as a big issue and be proactive. A lot has come out of that program, there is an award now where you can get on Alexa’s Team,” said Thien. “It determines how proactive you are with stopping impaired drivers. Quite a few of the local [Elk Valley] RCMP officers have been on the team for the past few years.”