Hash brown or cellphone? Man disputes traffic ticket

WESTPORT, Conn. — A Connecticut man is fighting a traffic ticket in court, and claiming a case of mistaken identity, saying the officer who ticketed him mistook a hash brown for a cellphone.

Jason Stiber, of Westport, was cited April 11 for distracted driving, an offense that brings with it a $300 fine.

Stiber insists, however, that he was not on his cellphone when the officer spotted him.

Stiber said he had just bought breakfast at the McDonald's in Norwalk, the Hour reported. As he crossed into neighboring Westport, a police officer pulled him over.


"I was eating a hash brown and he thought he saw a cellphone near my mouth," Stiber told the newspaper.

Stiber said he has Bluetooth on his phone and would not have had it to his ear if he were on a call.

He also provided phone records that showed he did not make or receive any calls within the hour he was given the ticket.

The Hour reported that Stiber fought the ticket before a magistrate in August but was found guilty despite the phone records. He sought a retrial, which is set for Dec. 7 in state superior court.

Stiber said he has hired a lawyer to help fight the ticket the second time.

Westport police officials stand behind the officer who ticketed Stiber.

"He was pulled over for talking on his cellphone and given an infraction," Lt. Jillian Cabana told the paper. "I'm sure his claim is different."