LOWELL -- A 41-year-old city woman pleaded not guilty to assault after a road-rage incident last year in which police allege she scared a woman and her three children to tears.
Michelle L. Chouinard, 41, of 2510 Skyline Drive, apt. 8, Lowell, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Lowell District Court to an assault charge in connection with the May 15, 2013 incident on Mammoth Road in Dracut. Judge Daniel Crane released Chouinard on personal recognizance with the condition that she stay away and have no contact with the alleged victim.
Court documents say Dracut police were dispatched at 10:15 a.m. to the corners of Donahue and Mammoth roads to investigate numerous reports of road rage. Police saw that a black BMW, driven by Chouinard, was parked, blocking both the left and right lanes. Chouinard and her passenger, Nicole Bouthiller, were both outside the car.
Chouinard, who appeared angry, repeatedly told police she was an Afghanistan war veteran recovering from numerous injuries, documents state.
Chouinard told police she was driving on Textile Avenue in Dracut being followed by a yellow Nissan SUV. The SUV tried passing Chouinard's BMW numerous times, with the SUV backing off when cars approached from the opposite direction. This continued onto Donahue Road with the Nissan's driver blowing her horn and attempting to pass the BMW.
As the BMW arrived at the end of Donahue Road, Chouinard stopped her BMW at angle, blocking both lanes of traffic. Chouinard said she got out of her car and approached the Nissan's driver's side door. Heated words were exchanged between the two drivers. The Nissan then drove off, nearly hitting Chouinard with her car.
Police then spoke to the driver of the SUV, who said she left a dentist's office in Lowell and was heading back to Tyngsboro to take her three children to school when she came upon a black BMW with an Afghanistan veteran sticker in the back window.
The BMW driver would slow down to 5 mph and then speed up, only to slow down again, the alleged victim told police. As Paulauskas tried to pass, Chouinard allegedly drove faster and into the opposite lane to block Paulauskas' path. At one point a cigarette, was thrown at Paulauskas' vehicle.
When Chouinard stopped and blocked both lanes, the alleged victim said her car was pinned by traffic. Paulauskas alleges that Chouinard walked up to the driver's side door and began yelling at her, causing her children to cry.
The alleged victim told police that when she said she wanted to leave, Chouinard allegedly laughed and ran into the side of the SUV. Paulauskas was able to go around the BMW and drive to a spot where she called police.
Witnesses at the scene told police they saw two cars with people yelling at each other.
Police issued Chouinard a summons for allegedly placing the alleged victim and her children in fear by blocking the SUV's escape and approaching the victim's car in a threatening manner.
Chouinard's next court date is April 22 for a pretrial conference.
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