The man accused of killing disability advocate Sue Salthouse has admitted to driving with methamphetamine in his system, but he will fight a far more serious charge that carries a potential 14-year jail sentence.
Ngunnawal resident Mitchell Ryan Laidlaw, 33, pleaded guilty in the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday morning to a charge of drug-driving as a repeat offender.
However, defence lawyer Toni Tu'ulakitau entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf to a charge of culpable driving causing death.
Both charges relate to a July 2020 crash that claimed the life of Ms Salthouse, who was the Senior ACT Australian of the Year at the time.
Mr Tu'ulakitau said on Thursday that the culpable driving charge was strictly indictable, meaning the case would ultimately have to be committed to the ACT Supreme Court.
Should Laidlaw maintain his not guilty plea in that court, he would be required to stand trial and could face a maximum of 14 years behind bars for that offence if convicted.
The drug-driving charge Laidlaw has pleaded guilty to, meanwhile, carries a maximum penalty of three months in jail.
Magistrate Glenn Theakston on Thursday adjourned the matter until April 29, allowing the prosecution time to prepare a brief of evidence.
Police charged Laidlaw and issued him with a summons to face court in November last year, following nearly four months of investigations into the fatal crash.
Superintendent Corey Heldon, of ACT Policing, told media then that it appeared Laidlaw's utility had hit the back of Ms Salthouse's wheelchair-accessible motorcycle as the vehicles travelled across Commonwealth Avenue Bridge.
Tributes flowed for Ms Salthouse, 71, in the wake of the crash.
The respected disability advocate and former teacher won a raft of awards for her work, through which she had been well-known in the Canberra community for decades.