Ever since McDonald’s decided to break into the breakfast market, fast food has become part and parcel of rush hour. If you time your journey correctly, it’s possible to spy car loads of bleary-eyed commuters sleepily scoffing foods that, until a few years ago, would have been about as breakfasty as a roast leg of lamb. How times have changed. However, a recent episode have proved that Maccies breakfasts haven’t just transformed mornings, but also potentially our legal system.
Last Friday, a man in Connecticut had his conviction for a driving offence overturned when his lawyer successfully argued that he had not, as the prosecution had alleged, been using his mobile while behind the wheel, but had actually been eating a McDonald’s hash brown. Jason Stiber, 45, had been originally charged in April 2018, but has spent the last 12 months fighting to get his $300 fine dismissed. Now, finally, he has been successful.
The original charge was brought after an officer spotted Stiber raising his hand towards his head whilst moving his mouth. Though it was impossible to work out what exactly he may have been holding, the arresting officer put two and two together and decided to slap Stiber with a hefty bill, despite his protestations of innocence. That, it seemed, was that.
Stiber, however, was not giving up without a scrap. Having already picked up a similar conviction a few years earlier, according to The Washington Post, he decided to fight tooth and nail to keep the bogus offence off his record. Having unsuccessfully attempted to rebuff the charges himself at a court in Norwalk, Stiber decided to hire attorney John Thygerson, who helped create a compelling defense.
Thygerson revealed that the officer involved had been on the 15th hour of a double shift at the time, and so may have been slightly impaired, also adding that, "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 also provided phone records to prove that Stiber wasn’t actually on the phone at the time and pointed out that his car was equipped with hands-free equipment, telling NBC news, "He's fighting this because he didn't do anything wrong."
After weighing up all the evidence, and listening to the persuasive testimony of Stiber’s shiny new lawyer, Judge Maureen Dennis ruled that the state had failed to meet its burden of proof and totally dismissed the citation against him. Speaking afterwards to reporters, Thygerson said, “I just think this is a classic example of the truism that cops make mistakes. They’re human beings like everyone else and sometimes they get things wrong.” According to Fox News, Stiber himself simply stated that he “hoped his case would set a precedent that would help others avoid the costly and time-consuming legal process” that he had just experienced. The power of McDonald’s has never been in any doubt, but if this case proves anything, it’s that it may extend further than we ever imagined.