Motorist wins 'hash brown' vs. cellphone trial in Connecticut

Judge declares breakfast-loving defendant is not guilty of distracted driving.
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By David K. Li

A Connecticut motorist, who claimed he was eating a hash brown when police ticketed him for distracted driving last year, was found not guilty by a judge on Friday.

Jason Stiber, 45, had refused to pay a $300 fine for the infraction and took his case to trial after a magistrate initially found him guilty.

"It was probably the most expensive hash brown in history, but it was worth it," Stiber's lawyer, John Thygerson, said on Friday, without revealing his fee. "People can take the the path of least resistance, 'OK, I'll pay the fine.' But others say, 'No, I want to pay more for the principle.' "

Stiber claimed that the Westport police corporal who pulled him over on April 11 last year mixed up his black cellphone with a McDonald's hash brown Stiber said he was eating.

Norwalk Superior Court Judge Maureen Dennis did not say whether Stiber was, in fact, eating a hash brown, but just ruled that the state failed to meet its burden of proof.

David K. Li

David K. Li is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.