Not-guilty plea to road rage charge

Tim EdmundsAlbany Advertiser

A driver accused of hitting a cyclist in an alleged road rage attack in Albany will defend a charge she drove recklessly and deliberately struck the cyclist.

Nicole Marsland, 21, appeared in Albany Magistrate’s Court last Thursday facing charges of reckless driving and common assault from the incident on Ulster Road on October 3. The court heard Ms Marsland allegedly abused the cyclist before a verbal altercation.

Police then allege she approached the cyclist from behind and clipped his handlebars with her side mirror, resulting in the rider almost losing control and falling onto the road before gaining control on the footpath.

It is then alleged she tried to punch and kick the cyclist several times.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Carl Fjastad told the court the incident happened at 1.25pm when Ulster Road was busy and the consequences could have been far worse if the cyclist had fallen towards the road.

“Road rage is a very serious situation in society today ...there needs to be a strong general deterrence that those who have strong thoughts about committing these types of offences have strong second thoughts,” he said.

After being charged a week later, Sgt Fjastad said Ms Marsland gave the explanation the cyclist “was all over the road and needed to be told”. Initially representing herself, Ms Marsland said she did not purposely drive into the cyclist but questioned why he was not using the footpath.

Ms Marsland had pleaded guilty to the charge of reckless driving before deciding to change her plea to not guilty after receiving legal advice, with the application to change plea objected to by Sgt Fjastad.

Motorists are now required to keep a minimum of 1m clear of a cyclist on roads with a posted speed limit of up to 60km/h, rising to 1.5m clear for roads with a higher speed limit.

The new laws came into effect on November 30, with the penalty a $400 fine and loss of four demerit points. Marsland will appear in court again on January 11.

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