Pleas likely to end Harbin DUI case

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ATLANTA -- State Rep. Ben Harbin intends to enter pleas on Sept. 16 to resolve drunken-driving charges that have dogged him for 15 months.

Atlanta Assistant City Solicitor Warren Atkinson on Tuesday told an Atlanta Municipal Court judge he was close to reaching a deal with Harbin that would dismiss one misdemeanor charge in exchange for pleas on others.

Harbin, 44, is charged with driving under the influence, failure to maintain a lane and failure to report striking a fixed object, the result of a late-night crash near the capitol in May 2007.

Atkinson would not disclose which charge would be dismissed, but said Harbin’s pleas would finally resolve the case.

Neither Harbin nor his attorney, Robert Highsmith, attended this morning’s court session.

Highsmith replied by e-mail to a reporter’s questions but also declined to elaborate on which charges his client would enter pleas. Harbin previously pleaded not guilty to the three charges.

The trial of the powerful House Appropriations Committee chairman has been delayed five times since his arrest as the prosecution searched for a witness who was difficult to locate and Harbin worked with prosecutors toward a resolution of the charges.

Jake Armstrong can be reached at (404) 589-8424 or jake.armstrong@morris.com.

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