Have a go, or no? Update 2

Update: So the man at the centre of this has been found not guilty of all charges. See story here.

As I said below, I still have some sympathy with the Senator who was acting in a way he thought best. However, perhaps the best course was to have called the police.


Decades  ago, a national UK newspaper, The Express, ran a ‘Have a Go’ campaign – the idea was to encourage people who saw wrongdoing to do something about it.

It was probably before the word vigilantism was invented and it was designed, as far as I understand, to take a stand against petty crime. It was where the phrase ‘have a go hero’ was originated, at least in the UK.

You could not do it now. Human rights, armed police, armed criminals etc would be allow it. The courts would probably prosecute you for denying the rights of a fellow human being ….. but that’s another story.

So, was Senator Jeff Baron being a ‘have a go hero’ when he allegedly tackled a person he believed to be too drunk to drive? Or was he overstepping the mark and doing what his former colleagues should be doing?

Senator Jeff Baron
Senator Jeff Baron

I have some sympathy with the Senator. He apparently saw a person he believed to be intoxicated get into a car and attempt to drive. Readers of this blog will know my thoughts on road safety and DUI.

Presumably, he acted out of emotion and perhaps an ingrained sense of duty (he was a police officer once.) But judging by media reports, it all got a bit ugly and very public – in the parking lot of a popular bar with local security personnel and the duty bar manager as well as the alleged drink driver all involved.

So was he right to confront someone he believed to be a drunk driver and did he set a good example? Was he right to ‘have a go’?

Reluctantly, I have to come to the conclusion that the answer is no, at least not in the way he did it. He should have called the police, reported his suspicions and let them deal with it. (And I know what the majority of the people reading this will say. Again, that is another story.)

He may also have raised his suspicions with the bar staff and asked them to stop serving the person. He might also have raised it with the security staff. He might also have put out a press release at a later date explaining what he saw and condemning it.

But above all, the Senator is there is put laws in place. He is not there to personally enforce them. While his actions may have been well-intentioned, they were misplaced. It was not a time to ‘have a go’.

Mr Baron, I know you read this blog. I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Update: A man has appeared in court in connection with this incident.

15 thoughts on “Have a go, or no? Update 2

Add yours

  1. I assume that Sen Baron acted because there was no time for other options. So I applaud him for possibly saving the man’s life and perhaps would- be victims of a drunk driver.

  2. Ethically and morally he did the right thing and if the driver didn’t resist giving up the keys he would of avoided a lot of headaches. How often have the security staff watched drunks drive home ? Good job Jeff and feel free to grab my keys anytime.

  3. We all have a moral duty to prevent drunk people from getting behind the wheel where they could kill themselves or somebody else.

    If the senator strongly suspected the person was drunk then he was right to intervene.

      1. I guess one response could be, take away his current role as a Senator and his previous career. He’s just Jeff. Regular Jeff takes it on himself to prevent a guy from driving under the influence. Is it an ill-advised gesture?

      2. Yes, I still think it is. You place yourself and potentially others in a difficult situation which could easily go horribly wrong. It is why we have police etc who are trained in dealing with this sort of thing. As a good citizen you have a requirement to report someone allegedly breaking the law, but do you have a requirement to take the law into your own hands?

    1. Unfortunately yes. But take the licence plate etc and call the cops. Yes, I know what you are thinking – but that is why we have to arm the cops with the right equipment and back them up with the right legislation so that they can take action when alleged incidents like this occur. That is the real issue here – an attitude that all too often condones DUI and a lack of legislation; enforcement etc

      1. It’s tough. Because on the other hand, you may have a gut wrenching feeling in your head that you allowed someone to go under the influence with innocent persons in the vehicle, and if the unthinkable happened and that car crashed into something (or someone),… well you get the point. Maybe that person feels that it’s worth the harassment and problems, versus the prospect of injury down the road.

      2. It is tough – but can you not reason with a person, get the bar to call a cab, or can you call someone in a position of authority, in this case security staff or the manager?

  4. I’ve read all of these comments with interest including the one from you Jeremy about politicians upholding the law in the “right” way. I don’t think that should come into play in this circumstance as these people were ready to drive off with 2 young children in the car if published reports are to be believed. There was a imminent possibility of harm to them and their parents, and I personally think that “Jeff” (rather than Senator Baron) did the right thing. However I don’t think grabbing the fellow out of the car was the way to go but I probably would have done the same thing. I also listened to the SherriJ tape and if what the security guard said was true, the couple was already in the car with it started when “Jeff” came onto the scene. I take the point that he could have taken the license plate, called the Police etc, but when they wrapped themselves around the nearest telephone pole and hurt themselves, he would be have been blamed for not acting sooner! I think the phrase “imminent danger” or similar comes into play and under these specific circumstances the right outcome was achieved. This is a thorny discussion as it is not theoretical at the end of day. We were not there. We didn’t feel the emotion of watching someone put themselves and their family in harms way due to their own actions. So when we discuss this please remember that this is not a “what if” scenario but something that happened in real life that could have been a disaster. Drunk driving costs many people their lives, and others serious and life altering injuries and is not to be taken lightly and if “Jeff’s” actions stopped this from happening I for one applaud him.

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