February 23, 2019

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Police defend issuing of ticket

'Now they really make me mad,' says senior accused of using cellphone in car

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 6/3/2012 (2544 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A Winnipeg police statement issued Tuesday night in support of officers who ticketed a senior for allegedly operating a cellphone while driving has further enraged the man.

In the unusual move, the Winnipeg Police Service said it stands by the offence notice given last Friday to a man for allegedly using a cellphone while driving down Portage Avenue.

The WPS said it has reviewed the incident and "has information that is contradictory to the information that has been depicted in the local media," concerning 74-year-old Laszlo Piszker, a retired machinist.

The department said officers saw "a male driver of a vehicle with a cellphone held to his ear. Officers were seven to eight feet away from the driver when this was observed."

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 6/3/2012 (2544 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Laszlo and Margaret Piszker plan to fight the ticket.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES

Laszlo and Margaret Piszker plan to fight the ticket.

A Winnipeg police statement issued Tuesday night in support of officers who ticketed a senior for allegedly operating a cellphone while driving has further enraged the man.

In the unusual move, the Winnipeg Police Service said it stands by the offence notice given last Friday to a man for allegedly using a cellphone while driving down Portage Avenue.

The WPS said it has reviewed the incident and "has information that is contradictory to the information that has been depicted in the local media," concerning 74-year-old Laszlo Piszker, a retired machinist.

The department said officers saw "a male driver of a vehicle with a cellphone held to his ear. Officers were seven to eight feet away from the driver when this was observed."

Police also said the driver didn't stop for several blocks after police turned on their cruiser's flashing lights and attempted to pull the vehicle over. The driver was then ticketed.

Police said they will not discuss the incident again until the case goes to court.

But Piszker fired back Tuesday night.

"Now they really make me mad," Piszker responded, when told about the latest development.

Piszker was ticketed March 2 in the 2500 block of Portage Avenue while he and his wife, Margaret, 72, were returning from lunch at the Olive Garden.

Piszker has publicly stated he's never owned a cellphone and wouldn't know how to use one if he did.

"Everyone knows that Laszlo just doesn't understand electronics," his wife told the Free Press last Sunday.

"This is not about the ticket anymore," Piszker said. "They're attacking my reputation. They called me a liar. They're lying bastards...

"I don't stand for someone trying to tarnish my reputation. They can bring the chief of police, the mayor, anyone they bloody well want. This is all outright lies."

Piszker said he plans to fight the ticket in provincial court.

He said he didn't pull over right away because he hadn't done anything wrong and couldn't fathom the flashing lights were for him.

"I wasn't doing anything wrong. Why worry?" he said.

"If they're saying I'm a liar, well, we'll see about that. They're not going to hide behind the blue uniform," he said.

Meanwhile, public anger toward the WPS continues to percolate over allegations some officers are issuing unfounded tickets to innocent motorists to satisfy department quotas.

The public's reaction has been largely negative toward the men and women in blue and solidly behind Piszker.

Margaret Piszker said she's spent most of her time on the phone for the second straight day, talking to strangers who have been offering their support.

"I've had quite a few calls from people from different parts of Winnipeg... telling us to keep fighting," she said.

Piszker said no one from city hall or the WPS has contacted them about the ticket, adding she doesn't believe that will happen.

Meanwhile, Len Eastoe, a former Winnipeg police officer who advises motorists fighting Highway Traffic Act infractions, said he was surprised by the Piszkers' situation, adding public anger toward the police is justified.

Eastoe said police Chief Keith McCaskill probably will not intervene on the Piszkers' behalf because such a move would undermine the rank and file. But Eastoe said the anger rising up in the community against the police service is hurting's McCaskill's key policy move of reaching out in a positive way to the community.

"McCaskill could get involved and that would send a message to the rank and file that what's expected of them is to treat the public fairly," Eastoe said.

But the civic politician who oversees the police service's budget said she endorses the cellphone crackdown and isn't worried about public reaction.

Coun. Paula Havixbeck, chairwoman of the civic protection and community services community, said she wasn't aware of a public backlash that's erupted against Winnipeg police this week, adding mistakes are bound to happen as police crack down on motorists who use cellphones while driving.

"I think it's important that police are giving out tickets and cracking down on cellphone users who are driving," Havixbeck said.

"With that comes more chance for the odd error."

In its statement Tuesday night, the WPS said it will "continue to enforce the sections in the Highway Traffic Act related to distracted driving to ensure our roadways are safe."

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca bill.redekop@freepress.mb.ca

 

The police's statement:

IN response to media inquiries regarding a distracted driving provincial offence notice that was recently issued, the Winnipeg Police Service has the following response:

Distracted driving is a serious safety issue similar to impaired driving or speeding and numerous studies have concluded that it increases the likelihood of collisions.

The Winnipeg Police Service has conducted a review of this incident and has information that is contradictory to the information that has been depicted in the local media.

It is alleged that on March 2, 2012, officers were in a police cruiser car that was travelling on Portage Avenue when they observed a male driver of a vehicle with a cellphone held to his ear.Officers were 7 to 8 feet away from the driver when this was observed.Emergency lighting equipment was activated and it took several blocks before the vehicle pulled over.A provincial offence notice was issued to the male driver of the vehicle.

The Winnipeg Police Service will not be discussing this specific incident any further as the proper forum to contest an offence notice is in a provincial court. A judge or judicial justice of the peace will hear the evidence and render a decision.

The Winnipeg Police Service will continue to enforce the sections in the Highway Traffic Act related to distracted driving to ensure our roadways are safe.

Aldo Santin

Aldo Santin
Reporter

Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.

Read full biography

Bill Redekop

Bill Redekop
Rural Reporter

Bill Redekop has been covering rural issues since 2001.

Read full biography

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