Driver Proves He Was Eating A Hash Brown Not Talking On The Phone
It's been labelled "the most expensive hash brown in history", but it was worth it.
Jason Stiber, 45, was hit with a US$300 fine in Connecticut last April for using his mobile behind the wheel.
Police Corporal Shawn Wong Won of Westport Police claimed to have seen Stiber "holding an illuminated object the size of a cellphone up to his face while moving his lips".
Turns out that illuminated object wasn't a phone but the golden goodness of a crunchy Macca's hash brown and it took Stiber a year, two trials, four days of court appearances, and a hefty legal bill to prove.
The accused represented himself in court last year and lost, but he dolled out a hefty chunk of cash to hire lawyer John Thygerson the second time around, to prove he wasn't on his phone.
Out of principle.
“Distracted driving violations go on your record and they never come off,” Stiber said, according to The Washington Post. “Plus, a lot of people don’t realise your insurance rates go up.”
Basically, it all came down to lip movement, phone records and one very tired police officer.
Thygerson told the court his client's lip movement was "consistent with chewing" the hash brown he'd ordered at McDonald's moments earlier, while records proved he was not having a conversation at the time he was pulled over.
The dedicated driver even made a Freedom Of Information Act request to get his hands on records that proved officer Wong Won was on the 15th hour of a 16-hour double-shift when he pulled Stiber over.
The judge concluded that the state was unable to prove its claim due to lack of evidence.
Stiber explained that he coughed up the hefty legal bill so that others won't be forced to do the same down the track.
“That’s why I did it, because I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through this,” he said. “Other people don’t have the means to defend themselves in the same way.”
As for Stibers' lawyer, Thygerson, he hailed the battle the case of the century.
"It was probably the most expensive hash brown in history, but it was worth it," he said.