Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Cellphone ticket, but no cellphone

Couple suspects officers trying to fill quota

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Laszlo and Margaret Piszker go out for lunch every Friday, but last week the retired Crestview couple had a run-in with the law over a non-existent cellphone.

The Piszkers were returning home from lunch at the Olive Garden when they were pulled over by a police cruiser on Portage Avenue.

"I got out to see what was wrong and the officers said that they'd both seen me talking on a cellphone," Laszlo Piszker, 74, said. "I was dumbfounded. I told him, 'Cellphone -- what cellphone? I don't own a cellphone. I never have."

Laszlo said the police officers -- there were two of them in the cruiser -- ignored his pleas.

"I invited them to look inside the car and I turned out my pockets," Laszlo, a retired machinist, said. "I mean, if I had a cellphone and I was using it, I wouldn't have said a thing and just accepted the ticket, but this really annoyed me. I don't own a cellphone."

Laszlo said he at first refused to take the ticket from the officer, but then the officer said he'd be arrested if he refused.

"So I took it, but I'm going to fight it."

Margaret Piszker, 72, said she'd heard on the news that police were going to be issuing more tickets to motorists, particularly those illegally using cellphones while driving, but she said she just doesn't understand why the two young officers targeted her husband.

"I don't want to have to pay it," Margaret said of the ticket for $199.80.

"Everyone knows that Laszlo just doesn't understand electronics," Margaret said. "If he had a cellphone, he wouldn't know how to use it. He's only just learned to get the DVD to work with the TV."

Margaret said the couple are technophobes. "We don't have a computer or the Internet. The land-line phone is the only phone we have. We don't even have an answer phone."

The Piszkers said that after accepting the ticket, they drove to their neighbourhood community police centre, where they explained the situation to the two duty officers behind the desk.

"One of them chuckled and the other said he knew somebody was trying to build his quota," Laszlo said.

"I think that's what they were doing -- they saw two old people and they thought they would give them a ticket."

Margaret said she's concerned how they're going to defend the case in court.

"We could bring our best friends, Joan and Bruce -- if anyone knew Laszlo had a cellphone it would be Joan and Bruce, and they know Laszlo has never had a cellphone.

"We could get our daughter, who lives in Pennsylvania, to write a letter. She's always asked us when we were going to get a cellphone. If we had a cellphone number, our daughter would know it, and she knows we've never had a cellphone," said Margaret

"I'm the stupidest person you'd ever meet when it comes to electronics," Laszlo said.

"When I tell our friends what happened, they're laughing.

"This is just annoying," Laszlo said. "I'm not going to take it. I'm going to fight it."

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 5, 2012 A5

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