Dane County judge dismisses charges against motorist who confronted cyclists

A Dane County Circuit Court judge has dismissed felony charges issued against a Madison-area man accused of knocking two bicyclists off the road in a confrontation on Fitchburg Road in August.

John Dohm Jr., 61, remains under conditions of his bond while prosecutors in the Dane County District Attorney’s office decide whether to re-issue the charges.

Max Ackermann racing for the University of Wisconsin – Madison cycling team.

In court Wednesday, Judge William C. Foust found the prosecution failed to provide enough evidence to support the case against Dohm, who was accused of recklessly endangering the safety of Joseph Maloney and Maxwell Ackermann. Both suffered head injuries in the crash.

Maloney and Ackerman told police that Dohm swerved into them as they pedaled south on Fitchburg Road on Aug. 26. According to their account, Dohm first honked at the cyclists as he approached from behind. He then passed, but stopped his car and tried to confront them. After they went by him, Dohm allegedly returned to his car and knocked both men into the ditch with his Jaguar.

Dohm contended that Maloney and Ackermann swerved into his car and caused the collision that sent them off the road.

His attorney produced a diagram showing that Dohm swerved to avoid the bicyclists, and the prosecutors failed to introduce evidence to refute that evidence. Neither Maloney nor Ackermann testified during the preliminary hearing.

While the felony charges were dismissed, the marks on Dohm’s car show that he and at least one of the cyclists collided. He clearly failed to provide three feet of distance between the car and the bicyclists while passing, as required by state law.

In addition, Dohm told police that he honked his car horn at the bicyclists to direct them to yield. Given the clear sight lines on the road and the lack of traffic, it does not appear that Maloney and Ackermann were impeding him, and that he had ample opportunity to pass them safely.

The rules of the road and state law are spelled out here, on the Wisconsin Bike Fed Share & Be Aware page.

We are checking with the Dane County District Attorney’s Office for word on their next action in the case.


5 thoughts on “Dane County judge dismisses charges against motorist who confronted cyclists

  1. Something seems odd here. From all that I’ve read about this case, there’s plenty of evidence to prove that this driver was at fault in this situation. I read in other articles that there are other witnesses that prove that this driver is a menace to cyclists and has been involved in numerous confrontations. You’d think that the District Attorney for one of the top cycling counties in the nation would be more inclined to help weed out this type of driver.

  2. Joe and Max should absolutely testify in court. They are both longtime bikers and have a deep respect for the rules of the road. They were both hurt and would not engage with someone in a car.

  3. What is the reason that the two cyclists (Joseph Maloney and Maxwell Ackermann) did not testify? Were they even in court?

    • I have not been able to find the answer to that question. It’s not clear from the online court record whether Maloney and Ackermann were in court. I’m continuing to check with the district attorney’s office regarding their next action.

  4. It would appear that this was a preliminary hearing and not a trial. The DA needs to provide enough information to show that a crime was committed and that the defendant most likely committed that crime. Generally the investigating officer testifies.

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