Giz UK's Hero of the Day award goes to Connecticut's Jason Stiber, who's paid "significant" legal fees out of his own pocket to prove he was eating a hash brown as he drove, and not talking on his phone.
Stiber got pulled over in April last year because Police Corporal Shawn Wong Won of Westport Police said he'd seen him "holding an illuminated object the size of a cellphone up to his face while moving his lips." He received a $300 (about £232) ticket for driving while distracted, but instead of just taking the loss and paying it, decided to contest the citation and attempt to prove his innocence in court.
It took a year, four days off work and whatever the legal fees came to (this happened in America, so we're assuming enough to buy several bajillion hash browns), as well as providing proof that the balance of probabilities was in his favour.
To do that, he filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out details of the policeman's shift, finding that at the time he pulled Stiber over, he was in his fifteenth hour of a gruelling sixteen-hour double shift. His lawyer used that as evidence that Wong Won might not have been in the clearest frame of mind when he saw the "phone."
Stiber's lawyer also argued that his lip movements were "consistent with chewing" the hash brown, which he'd just picked up at McDonald's, and used phone records to prove he wasn't on a call at the time. He added that Stiber's car has Bluetooth call functionality, so there'd be no need for him to hold a phone up to his face.
The judge concluded that the police hadn't submitted enough evidence to prove that Stiber was in fact on his phone, and thus found the defendant not guilty.
Explaining that it was more than just a funny mix-up with a fried potato, Stiber commented that "distracted driving violations go on your record, and they never come off," and "a lot of people don’t realise your insurance rates go up [as a result]."
While his lawyer John Thygerson called it "the case of the century," Stiber seems less thrilled about the whole thing, saying he doesn't eat as many hash browns anymore because he'd "rather avoid trouble in the future." [Washington Post via Android Police]
Main image: McDonald's, who we reckon should give this guy free hash browns for life.