Local officers named to Alexa’s Team

Prince George RCMP Cst. Bryan Dunnett went through some mixed emotions Wednesday when he was named to Alexa's All-Stars for his work in getting drivers too impaired to be behind the wheel off the road.

"It's one of those things that brings tears to your eyes," Dunnett said. "It's one thing to get recognition for doing a good job but the (reason) that we're there is because the Middelaars lost a daughter."

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The award is named after Alexa Middelaar, who was just four years old when, in May 2008, she was killed by an impaired driver who plowed into her and her aunt while they were feeding a horse by the side of Ladner road.

Carol Berner, 57, was subsequently convicted of impaired driving causing bodily harm and death and was sentenced to 30 months in jail.

Middelaar's mother, Laurel, was in Prince George to present awards to northern B.C. officers who snagged at least a dozen impaired drivers during 2014.

Those who make that grade are named to Alexa's Team and the 25 most productive officers in that respect are named Alexa's All-Stars.

Dunnett, who removed 84 such drivers, and Cst. Brian Davis, also of the Prince George RCMP and who removed 76, were among them. It was the second year in a row that Dunnett was named to the team and the fourth year in a row for Davis.

Dunnett said the introduction of immediate roadside prohibitions have made a major difference.

"It's a way quicker process to go through than a Criminal Code," Dunnett said. "It helps us wrap one up in a couple of hours and get onto the next one."

But he said the number of impaired drivers he's come across since the roadside prohibitions have come into force has not declined although the vast majority learn their lesson the first time around.

The penalty for a first-time offender who blows more than 0.5 per cent is a three-day driving prohibition and a $200 fine.

A second offence within five years draws a seven-day prohibition and a $500 fine and a third offence within five years carries a 30-day prohibition and a $400 fine and a potential referral to a remedial program.

Those who blow over .08 or refuse to provide a breath sample are issued a 90-day prohibition, a 30-day vehicle impoundment and a potential referral to a remedial program.

"The reality is we deal with impaired drivers who crash their vehicles, and there are fatalities and they're very violent," Dunnett said.

"That's why it's our number one objective - to take impaired drivers off the road, so that doesn't happen."

Several other officers were named to Alexa's Team for taking at least a dozen impaired drivers off the road in 2014: Cst. Bill Brown, Cst. Patrick Kennedy and Cst. Dan Turner of Prince George City Traffic Services; Cst. Michael Collis and Cst. Mattew Schick of Prince George Regional Traffic Services; Cst. Serge Bruneau and Cpl. John Graham of the Prince George Integrated Road Safety Unit.

In all, they accounted for 389 impaired drivers removed from area roads in 2014.

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