A Connecticut man claims he’s been wrongly accused of distracted driving, insisting police mistook a McDonald’s hash brown for his cellphone.
And now a Norwalk Superior Court judge is deliberating the case of Jason Stiber, who was pulled over in Westport on April 11 last year for allegedly driving while talking on his mobile phone.
Stiber, 45, contends that Westport Police Department Cpl. Shawn Wong made an honest mistake and mixed up the driver’s black cellphone with a hash brown wrapped in white McDonald’s paper he was eating.
A magistrate convicted Stiber, who represented himself, this past August. Connecticut law allows drivers, if they’re unhappy with a magistrate’s ruling, to take the matter to a trial judge.
And that’s what Stiber and his lawyer did, trying their case before Judge Maureen Dennis on Friday. Stiber has already spent $1,000 to fight this $300 ticket.
“I have done nothing but criminal defense for 21 years and I have a very sensitive nose for” lying clients, Stiber’s lawyer John Thygerson told NBC News on Tuesday. “I can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that I firmly believe my client 100 percent.”
The defense insists it has phone records to show Stiber wasn’t talking at the time he was pulled over and a receipt for the hash brown and caramel frappe purchased that morning. And Stiber’s car and phone are also hooked up to a hands-free Bluetooth, making it unnecessary for him to hold a phone even if he were chatting, according to his defense.
The officer testified last week that he’s sure Stiber was speaking into a phone and not eating breakfast.
“The cop says he saw my client’s lips moving — my client’s lips were moving because he was chewing on his hash brown,” Thygerson said. “He’s fighting this because he didn’t do anything wrong.”
Dennis — a former juvenile court judge best known for ordering, in 2001, Kennedy scion Michael Skakel to stand trial as an adult for the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley — is expected to rule in this matter by April 5.