Erie man who honked at cyclists pleads guilty

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Bicyclist videotapes driver honking his horn at them. Image from YouTube. Sep. 16, 2012

Bicyclist videotapes driver honking his horn at them. Image from YouTube. Sep. 16, 2012

BOULDER, Colo. — A 71-year-old Erie man who relentlessly honked his horn at two cyclists along County Line Road in Boulder County accepted a plea deal and was sentenced to 12 months in prison Thursday.

James Ernst plead guilty to two counts of harassment and two counts of improper use of a horn. The harassment charge is a misdemeanor while the other two counts are traffic offenses.

In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dropped two charges of driving too slowly.

Ernst was also ordered to undergo anger management classes and do community service.

In September the two cyclists recorded video of Ernst driving an SUV just behind them and honking his horn relentlessly.

The video was placed on YouTube and went viral, receiving thousands of comments and views. That prompted the Colorado State Patrol to investigate and eventually charges were brought against Ernst.

In January, Ernst said he wanted a plea deal and said he had been receiving threatening phone calls and mail since the incident.

In court Thursday, Ernst told the judge he did not want to pass the cyclists because of a double yellow line and that the road was narrow.

“It’s really not safe for bicyclists,” Ernst said, according to the Daily Camera.

The judge responded saying, “The issue isn’t whether the bicyclists could have taken other action or not, if they’re riding where they’re supposed to be, you have to be patient and certainly can’t be leaning on your horn.”