Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
MADD's new execs to bring personal experience to the job
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 26 Apr 2006, p. 14

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MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Halton-Peel has received a much-needed boost with the appointment of two police officers as president and vice-president. Toronto Police Sgt. Larry Zimmerman, a life-long Burlington resident and a married father of five, now heads up the agency. Halton Regional Police Const. Andy Dennis, a married father of one also living in Burlington, is his right hand. Together, they've seen the impaired driving issue from the streets to the courtrooms and armed with this experience-- some of it eye-opening, much of it tragic-- the chapter can't help but benefit. After all, MADD Halton-Peel has been struggling against financial pressures and a dearth of volunteers and has had difficulty delivering all the programs and services that staff feel the community deserves. In short, it needs money and volunteers if it is to survive as an effective defense against the horrors of impaired driving-- not an easy task, considering the chapter serves two regions with a combined population of roughly 1.6 million people. As a result, both Zimmerman and Dennis say that, in addition to continuing to get the anti-drunk driving message out to the public, their immediate focus will be on attracting board members and volunteers plus raising funds so the chapter can carry out its mandate. Both officers have simply seen too much not to try: twisted wreckage, shattered lives and a court system that is often too lenient considering the horrific damage involved. Both men have also heard every excuse in the book and wish they could get across to every driver that being drunk and being impaired are not the same thing. Both are chargeable offenses. "No one thinks they're drunk, but even if you don't blow over 80, you can still be impaired," said Dennis, adding that marijuana is another growing problem affecting the safe operation of vehicles. "That's a new one ... that makes reaction time slower." Another sore spot with Zimmerman is that some judges don't take impaired driving as seriously as they should, especially when no one has been injured and they see it as a "victimless crime." The sad part, says Dennis, is that drunk driving is entirely preventable. Both he and Zimmerman recall stories of attending collision scenes and smelling the alcohol-tainted blood amidst the crushed metal. They have also attended autopsies of people who are literally dead drunk and smelled the booze. "As soon as they cut the chest open, boom," said Dennis, who added that one drink is too many if you plan on driving. Zimmerman joined MADD Halton-Peel in June 2005 after reading a story in the local press about the agency's dire need for board members and volunteers. He hopes to bring all his experience -- from police officers to victims-- to bear on impaired driving in the regions. Dennis decided to join MADD last year for several reasons: his wife's friend was killed by a drunk driver in Calgary and in his role as police officer he's laid far too many drunk driving and impaired charges-- with no end in sight. "Complacency is a huge problem," he said, explaining that he and Zimmerman volunteered for the executive positions with MADD and encourages other community-minded individuals to think likewise. "People have to step up. It's a great organization." Also welcome are high school students who can apply time spent with MADD to their community service hours. For more information or to volunteer, contact MADD Halton-Peel at 9055-844-0096 or e-mail info@maddhalton.ca., www.maddhalton.ca. or drop by the MADD office at 466 Speers Rd. Suite 5B Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Mozel, Howard; Kortmann-Dennis, Liesa
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Date of Publication:
26 Apr 2006
Personal Name(s):
Zimmerman, Larry ; Dennis, Andy
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MADD ; Mothers Against Drunk Driving ; Halton Regional Police
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MADD's new execs to bring personal experience to the job