Traffic Ticket Haunts Muskegon Man 37 Years Later

Posted at 11:57 AM, Aug 31, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-31 11:57:39-04

Upsom_County_Georgia_CourthouseUPSON COUNTY, Georgia (WGXA)- When Gary Packingham of Muskegon Michigan was contacted by a collections agency recently about an unpaid traffic ticket, he didn’t know what to think. After they told him the ticket was out of Upson County Georgia, he immediately recalled back to 1976.

Packingham says he and another staffer for Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign were on their way to Plains from Atlanta to install a VCR so Carter could watch recorded national coverage of his campaign. The two were driving through Upson County when they stopped for an officer that was walking in the middle of the road.

Packingham says the officer made them pull over and show him their identification.

“We had left early in the morning, the wallet was still back in my apartment, on the top of the dresser,” Packingham said.

He was issued a citation for driving without a license and sent on his way. Packingham says he paid the ticket and forgot about it. He continued a long career working in government that required stringent background checks, an unpaid ticket never showing up on his record.

“This never materialized, I had no clue, never heard of this,” Packingham said.

That’s why it comes as a surprise to Packingham that the Probate Court of Upson County says there is now a bench warrant out for his arrest. Probate Court Clerks refused to give any more information about the ticket. Probate Judge Danielle McRae did not immediately return an e-mail sent to her.

“Even if the ticket wasn’t paid, if the money order never got there, or God knows what, isn’t there a statute of limitations on these things,” Packingham said.

The collections agency says Packingham owes $149, but he can’t pay them, he has to contact Upson County. He says he sent an e-mail to a court clerk, but never received a reply.

“I’m going to go back and try to find the right party in Upson County and see if they can resolve this situation, it just can’t go on,” Packingham said.
WGXA reached out to the Upson County District Attorney’s Office. While nobody in the office would comment, on the record, Assistant District Attorney Michael Rogers chuckled at the thought of prosecuting a traffic violation from 1976.