When word spread last week that Ben Anderson, the 32-year-old son of former state Rep. Lee Anderson, was arrested for DUI in Columbia County, people couldn’t help but shake their heads.
Lee Anderson, the Republican candidate for Georgia State Senate’s District 24 seat, is facing Democratic opponent Brenda Jordan in the Nov. 8 election.
Of course, no one thinks for a second that Lee Anderson won’t win his race.
Lee Anderson is running in an overwhelmingly Republican district in which he has developed deep connections with the citizens his entire life.
Without a doubt, Lee Anderson will be the next state senator of District 24, a seat currently held by retiring state Sen. Bill Jackson.
But no politician wants to be forced to answer questions from the media less than three weeks prior to an election about their grown son’s inexcusable and criminal behavior.
However, the truth is both Andersons are very lucky that the situation last week wasn’t much worse.
Ben Anderson could have easily killed someone while driving under the influence. Then, it wouldn’t have been just a political embarrassment for his father. It would have been life changing for Ben Anderson, Lee Anderson and the innocent victim or victims that could have been struck and killed.
It would have forever devastated the family of that victim. The friends of that victim. Possibly even the children of that victim.
Unfortunately, such terrible tragedies happen each and every day across this country and yet it still doesn’t stop intoxicated people from getting behind the wheel of a car.
So how did Lee Anderson respond to his son’s actions?
“There’s no excuse for my son’s dangerous and reckless behavior,” Lee Anderson told The Jail Report last week. “We raised Ben better than that. He deserves the harsh punishment coming his way.”
Lee Anderson’s comments are commendable, but all of Columbia County can only hope that Ben Anderson has learned his lesson and will never drive drunk again.
Not just for his father’s reputation or his own image, but for the safety of all drivers and their families on our roadways.
That being said, Lee Anderson should not be punished or held accountable for his grown son’s actions.
Ben Anderson is 32 years old. He should have known better and now he must face the legal consequences.
And let’s just say it: Lee Anderson is no Ben Harbin.
Many Augustans will remember back in May 2007 when former state Rep. Ben Harbin, while he was still in office, was facing drunken driving charges after crashing his 2003 Nissan Maxima into a power pole in Atlanta around 1 a.m. on a Sunday.
Here is how the arresting officer described Harbin’s behavior and the crash that night in the incident report:
“Upon arrival, I observed a silver Nissan Maxima with extensive front end damage, a damaged electrical pole and an ambulance on the scene. I then made contact with the driver of the vehicle in the ambulance, identified as Benjie Harbin.”
“Mr. Harbin stated he was driving westbound on Memorial Drive, looked down at the floor and when he looked up he saw a pedestrian in the roadway, slammed on the brakes and veered into the pole,” the officer described in his report.
“While speaking with Mr. Harbin, I detected a strong odor of alcohol on Mr. Harbin’s breath. Also I observed he had slightly slurred speech and bloodshot glassy eyes.”
“I then asked Mr. Harbin to take several field sobriety tests and he submitted to the tests,” the report stated. “While speaking with Mr. Harbin, I observed Mr. Harbin having difficulty keeping balance and he seemed slightly confused.”
“Mr. Harbin was unable to keep his head straight and I had to remind him several times to follow my pen with his eyes only,” the officer stated in the report. “I next conducted the Walk-and-Turn test on Mr. Harbin. I demonstrated the test then requested Mr. Harbin to complete the test using the solid yellow line on the roadway. The road was dry, level and had a blacktop surface.”
“During the test, I observed Mr. Harbin stop walking to steady self and he was swaying greatly, he also failed to walk heel-to-toe,” the report continued. “Mr. Harbin took 12 steps on the first pass and then he turned incorrectly by not taking a series of small steps.”
The last test that was conducted on Harbin was the “One Leg Stand” test.
“Mr. Harbin swayed while balancing; used his arms to balance by raising them over six inches sporadically and put his foot down,” the police report stated. “Mr. Harbin then picked his foot up about two inches off the ground for about four seconds, lost balance and then stated he was unable to perform the test.”
“During testing, Mr. Harbin repeatedly stated, ‘I just want to go home,’” the officer stated.
The officer then informed Benjie, a.k.a. Harbin, that he had failed the tests and he was under arrest for driving under the influence.
“Once at Grady Memorial Hospital, I requested Mr. Harbin to submit to blood testing,” the officer stated. “However, Mr. Harbin refused to give a blood sample.”
You want to talk about a state legislator behaving badly? Go talk to former state Rep. Ben Harbin.