We've heard of phones taking potato photos, but phones being mistaken for a potato-based breakfast food is another story — one that now exists. A man in Connecticut spent his own money and 13 months of his life to prove in court that a police officer gave him a $300 distracted-driving ticked for merely eating a McDonald's hash brown while at the wheel. On Friday, a judge found Jason Stiber not guilty, bringing an end to what the defendant's attorney called "the case of the century."
On April 11th, 2018, Stiber was pulled over by Westport Police Cpl. Shawn Wong Won, who testified that he saw Stiber moving his lips as he held an object resembling a cellphone to his face while driving. Stiber's lawyer, John Thygerson, countered by saying those lip movements were "consistent with chewing" the hash brown his client purchased at a McDonald's immediately before he was pulled over.
Stiber also made a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to acquire records showing that Wong was on the 15th hour of a 16-hour double shift and may have had less-than-ideal judgment when he pulled Stiber over. The judge concluded that the state didn't bring forth enough evidence to show that Stiber was, indeed, on his phone while driving.
In the end, this outcome took two trials and more than a year to come by, and it cost Stiber legal fees exceeding the $300 ticket and four days of missed work. But he has no regrets: "That’s why I did it, because I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through this. Other people don’t have the means to defend themselves in the same way." A true hero for anyone who wants to enjoy a hash brown on the go without fear of being pulled over.
- The Washington Post