Lawyer faced North Sydney Local Court after hitting L-plater and strangling him

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While road rage is something we may all internally battle, one lawyer certainly didn’t manage to contain his anger after running straight into a motorcycle rider.

The rider, 28-year-old Alex Chapman, had only been on his L-plates for less than one week.

He was riding along the Pacific Highway when hit from behind by Murray McArdle, a corporate lawyer.

After the collision, Mr McArdle got out of his car and proceeded to strangle Mr Chapman.

Fortunately, Mr Chapman was not seriously hurt, although he struggles to remember all the details of the incident.

Mr McArdle was charged with three offences: common assault, malicious damage and assault causing actual bodily harm.

Mr McArdle pleaded guilty to the first two charges and the third one – assault causing actual bodily harm – was withdrawn and dismissed.

Mr McArdle did not speak during the sentencing hearing in North Sydney local court earlier this month.

His sentence has not yet been handed down, as a mental health report needs to be completed in the meantime.

The 55 year old will be sentenced on October 1.

This is not an isolated occurrence: other recent cases nationwide have shown that many Australian motorists have a problem controlling their rage.

A survey by one Australian insurance company found that one-in-four people admitted to swearing or making rude gestures when they were frustrated by other drivers.

Even more disturbingly, 13 per cent of the drivers surveyed said they thought it was a good idea to bring a weapon to defend themselves in the event of road rage.

And it appears to not just be hotheads who are getting angry – even people who are usually patient and polite in everyday life can lose it behind the wheel.

Another NSW example involved a 25-year-old driver who didn’t want to give way when merging with incoming traffic. Instead, he followed the incoming driver all the way to her home.

He allegedly flashed his high beams, used his horn repeatedly, threw items at her car and hurled abuse as he tailgated the 21-year-old to her home three km away.

He then allegedly threatened the girl’s father with a knife and tried to run him over.

Another example involved an altercation in Canberra.

After they were allegedly cut off, a car’s male and female occupants of forced the other driver off the road, got out of their car and punched him.

The male ended-up with a prison sentence and the female got a fine.

Just what is it about getting behind the wheel that leads people to become enraged all for the sake of who has right of way?

Traffic, congestion, running late and poor road planning are all blamed, but they are of course only part of the problem.

‘Road rage’ is itself not a crime, but it certainly can make people commit them!

Tough penalties apply for aggressive and predatory driving, as well as other offences such as assault or reckless damage.

Menacing driving, is behaviour intended to threaten another driver with personal injury or damage to property.

Driving that is intended to menace others can be punished with a $3,300 fine or imprisonment of up to 18 months. The penalties for subsequent offences increase.

Hundreds of NSW motorists are charged with menacing driving each year.

It is also an offence to drive furiously, recklessly, at a speed or in a way that is dangerous to the public.

Maximum penalties start at $2,200 fines and 9 months imprisonment, and get harsher for subsequent offences, or for instances where the dangerous driving causes death or grievous bodily harm.

While we don’t yet know what punishment Mr McArdle will be facing next time he appears before the North Sydney local court, just one look at the penalties makes it quite clear that road rage is just not worth it.

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About Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Specialist Criminal Lawyer and Principal at Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Sydney’s Leading Firm of Criminal & Traffic Defence Lawyers.


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