Harbin: Pedestrian to blame

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ATLANTA - Columbia County state Rep. Ben Harbin, facing drunken driving charges after a weekend traffic accident, told Atlanta police he swerved his vehicle to avoid a pedestrian, according to an incident report released Wednesday.

But the document also says two witnesses told police they saw no pedestrian or other vehicles when they arrived on the scene "seconds later."

Mr. Harbin, an Evans Republican who chairs the powerful House Appropriations Committee, slammed his 2003 Nissan into a power pole about 1 a.m. Sunday. He was released on $1,200 bond and must appear in court July 19.

Since the accident, he has not returned phone messages seeking his side of the story. He did e-mail a statement Tuesday expressing regret.

"I would also like to express my gratitude for the overwhelming support and concern I've received from my family and friends," it said. "I am thankful to God that I was not injured, and I pledge to continue my public service to my district and the people of Georgia."

Wednesday's release of the police report is the first detailed explanation of what happened. Nowhere in it does it indicate that the officer realized Mr. Harbin is a legislator.

It quotes Mr. Harbin telling the officer that he had "looked down at the floor and when he looked up he saw a pedestrian in the roadway, slammed on brakes and veered into the pole."

Officer Bryan French, who filed the report, noted, however, that he didn't find any skid marks.

According to the report, Mr. Harbin was already in an ambulance when Officer French arrived. He said he smelled alcohol on Mr. Harbin's breath, saw bloodshot eyes and heard Mr. Harbin slur his words. He said he asked the lawmaker to step into the road for sobriety tests.

Officer French wrote that on each of the three balance and coordination tests Mr. Harbin had "difficulty keeping balance and he seemed slightly confused" while asking repeatedly to go home.

Officer French said he walked Mr. Harbin back to the ambulance, arrested him and put him in handcuffs.

Once at Grady Memorial Hospital, where Mr. Harbin was given a physical and found to be uninjured by the accident, Officer French asked him to submit blood for an alcohol test. Mr. Harbin refused.

FOR THE RECORD

Read the full police report from Columbia County state Rep. Ben Harbin's DUI arrest.

Adobe Reader is required to view or print .pdf the file. Get the free Adobe Acrobat software

Comments (103)

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iletuknow
7
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iletuknow 05/24/07 - 05:58 am
0
0

Lame excuse,even for a

Lame excuse,even for a politician

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 05/24/07 - 06:03 am
0
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Geez, this is weak.

Geez, this is weak.

CHIEF
2
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CHIEF 05/24/07 - 06:09 am
0
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HAHA, Everyone of you would

HAHA, Everyone of you would do the same thing, money talks. He will pay a fine and give a little vote somewhere and its forgotten. No more than a Judge or an attoney would do. It's just a joke and we have another politician being honnest.

naugliberal
0
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naugliberal 05/24/07 - 06:38 am
0
0

The devil made him do it

The devil made him do it

masterdiver
0
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masterdiver 05/24/07 - 06:51 am
0
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Maybe there was and maybe

Maybe there was and maybe there wasn't a pedestrian. That point is irrelevant. The main fact is that this idiot should not have been drinking and driving. He could have mistaken a pink elephant for the pedestrian.

edst4
0
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edst4 05/24/07 - 06:56 am
0
0

My dog ate my

My dog ate my homework........

booger
0
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booger 05/24/07 - 07:03 am
0
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Bottom line, if he refused a

Bottom line, if he refused a blood alcohol test he should be convicted and lose his license. Should just own up to mistake and get it over with.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 05/24/07 - 07:18 am
0
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CHIEF, I would never drink

CHIEF, I would never drink and drive ( I outgrew that when I was young) Like booger said, he refused a blood alcohol test, that's an admission of guilt for anyone else. His position shouldn't exempt Harbin. Part of his job is taking responsibility for his actions.

CKB
0
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CKB 05/24/07 - 07:35 am
0
0

This is very weak, at best. A

This is very weak, at best. A pedistrian (or no pedestrian) does not change the alcohol role in this picture. What I thought interesting was when he pledged to continue his public service to his district and the people of Georgia. That is a huge assumption that he will be able to continue- should those he represents not have a say? Do we really want this type of representation? I think it is time the people in this area should be tired of having "criminal representation". He made a promise during the campaign to represent us- and look at the way he did! Geez- Augusta is the laughing stock AGAIN!

CKB
0
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CKB 05/24/07 - 07:36 am
0
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OOPS! Sorry, I had a computer

OOPS! Sorry, I had a computer glitch this morning! Sorry!!!

InChristLove
21846
Points
InChristLove 05/24/07 - 07:49 am
0
0

This sounds like a pretty

This sounds like a pretty lame excuse to me too but what surprises me is that Mr. Harbin was already in the ambulance when the officer arrived. He makes Mr. Harbin get out of the ambulance to take a sobriety test - what if Mr. Harbin had had some serious internal injuries they weren't aware of and you make him get out of an ambulance? Although it doesn't account for the blood shot eyes and the smell of alcohol - being unsteady on ones feet makes sense since the man just plowed into a power pole. I don't doubt the man had been drinking, and possibly he did see a pedestrian - I just see loop holes where he can get off being convicted.

jackfruitpaper833
41
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jackfruitpaper833 05/24/07 - 08:05 am
0
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And the lies start, Harbin

And the lies start, Harbin just should have kept his mouth SHUT, he's as good as gone if he's LYING.

bigc
1
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bigc 05/24/07 - 08:07 am
0
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I see several loopholes and a

I see several loopholes and a potential lawsuit (nice job on the redaction of the report).The case is weak and can be beat in court. I do hate it when those pesky pedestrians walk in front of an inattentive driver. Whats worse is when they have the nerve to walk on the sidewalks as the drunks are driving on them on the way home.

mycomments
303
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mycomments 05/24/07 - 08:44 am
0
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Also irrelevant is his public

Also irrelevant is his public relations representation. But, man, they should be fired! He should have made an apology immediately, BEFORE the press came calling. When he finally did 3 days later, he thanked God HE wasn't hurt. How about any innocent "pedestrians" or others driving on the road at that time? He should have thanked God that he didn't hurt anyone else OR himself. That said, he should have gotten a cab ride home.

WAG
287
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WAG 05/24/07 - 08:51 am
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I agree with mycomments. He

I agree with mycomments. He was only concerned with himself. Never mind the innocent people he could have hurt.
A pedestrian my foot....Why can't he just be honest. He is making an even bigger fool of himself.....Liar liar

NedaKlugh
0
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NedaKlugh 05/24/07 - 08:51 am
0
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"I am thankful to God that I

"I am thankful to God that I was not injured, and I pledge to continue my public service to my district and the people of Georgia." - Ben Harbin

How about being thankful the "pedestrian" was not hurt? What was your first thought? You or the pedestrian? So... you are pledging to serve... perhaps yourself? That one statement shows your true character. You do need to be thankful to God that He have mercy on you.

WAG
287
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WAG 05/24/07 - 08:52 am
0
0

Monica was to blame in the

Monica was to blame in the Clinton case too.

Augusta Mom
1
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Augusta Mom 05/24/07 - 09:04 am
0
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Humm...does Listerine make

Humm...does Listerine make you red-eyed and slur your words?
No doubt he was "woozy" and decided to be a driving drunk. Has anyone else heard the rumors around town about there being "a woman" involved in all this? What happens to these politicians when they are elected to office....they just lose their minds.

ripjones
2
Points
ripjones 05/24/07 - 09:05 am
0
0

Dirt Police - Let's get the

Dirt Police - Let's get the facts straight. He was found at 327 Memorial Drive, not Stewart Ave. 327 Memorial Drive runs parallel to Martin Luther King Blvd, towards the Capitol and Oakland Cemetery. Memorial Drive intersects Capitol Avenue. And how would you know about Stewart Avenue? Visit there before? I was born and raised in Atlanta. Don't start spreading rumors, that simply cloud up the issue.

shepster
0
Points
shepster 05/24/07 - 09:08 am
0
0

I simply CANNOT believe he

I simply CANNOT believe he isn't just standing up & telling the truth. This is starting to SMELL.

shepster
0
Points
shepster 05/24/07 - 09:10 am
0
0

helpus.., you can STEP with

helpus.., you can STEP with you outrageous claim. What you are doing is SLANDER. STOP IT.

_kpc_
22
Points
_kpc_ 05/24/07 - 09:10 am
0
0

Maybe the pedistrian was his

Maybe the pedistrian was his bartender, and the bartender forced him to drink....then forced him to get in the car and drive. I guess then it is the pedistrian's fault.

_kpc_
22
Points
_kpc_ 05/24/07 - 09:15 am
0
0

Listerine can cause a BAC

Listerine can cause a BAC reading of around .4 or .5, but in less than 5 min. the level quickly drops back to 0. I doubt this defense will stand up either.

All About Me
0
Points
All About Me 05/24/07 - 09:24 am
0
0

I agree with the others he

I agree with the others he should be grateful that he didn't kill someone's child. He was lucky to hit a telephone pole and not get hurt. As far as swishing listerine it will make you blow .08 but the officer requested a blood test. Listerine does not effect your blood levels. He should loose his license for a year on that refusal. That is the state law. If you refuse a blood alcohol test you loose your license for a year. He is a politicain I hope nobody expected him to tell the truth. He also is making Evans look really good. Guess they couldn't keep this out of the papers.

marien
28
Points
marien 05/24/07 - 09:24 am
0
0

Mr. Harbin this is a bad

Mr. Harbin this is a bad excuse, be a man and stand up to your mistake.

xqwbv2
3
Points
xqwbv2 05/24/07 - 09:25 am
0
0

I agree with rip. As a

I agree with rip. As a former Augustan, now living in metro Atlanta, I can tell you that, in general, the part of the city that Ben was found in is starting to gentrify, majorly. Hip hangouts for the young and some what moneyed (and usually white) are now in parts of the city that 10 years ago you'd never find them in, due to metro Atlanta's atrocious transportation problems/system--so many people are moving out of the burbs and into the city. So get informed, please, on the state of modern Atlanta.

jack234
676
Points
jack234 05/24/07 - 09:33 am
0
0

I just wish Ben would call

I just wish Ben would call that man Austin on the radio, he was about to have a miscarriage yesterday because his friend Ben didn't call him first and apologize. Let's all wish Ben well despite his circumstances.

bowler
3
Points
bowler 05/24/07 - 10:01 am
0
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i'm glad no one was injured,

i'm glad no one was injured, but i bet he was leaving his sunday night bowling league where he got trashed and possibly thought the light pole was a bowling pin...just a thought

jack234
676
Points
jack234 05/24/07 - 10:01 am
0
0

switching parties won't make

switching parties won't make it go away. Columbia County callers yesterday told Mr. Austin to stop talking about it so much.

jack234
676
Points
jack234 05/24/07 - 10:05 am
0
0

It is not a "party" thing.

It is not a "party" thing. But then again, it might be a "partying" thing.

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