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Traffic ticket in historic Whitesburg Whitesville, Georgia

UPDATE: Well, my memory must be going with age. As pointed out in the comments, it was Whitesburg, not Whitesville!

Somehow things happen to me that don’t seem to happen to others, and a friend recently suggested I start documenting some of my past and future stories on my weblog. This is the first installment, about a traffic ticket I once received, in historic Whitesville Whitesburg, deep south Georgia.

I worked my way through Georgia Tech as a coop student, initially spending alternate quarters at the Georgia Power Company’s power generation plant, Plant Yates, in lovely Newnan, Georgia. It was an interesting experience, some of which I’ll be documenting in future stories. (Like the time me and the other coop got stuck at the top of the 800 ft tall smoke stack.) Just to set the mood, on my first day at Plant Yates, I was told by the lead engineer that “coop” is the sound horse crap makes when it hits the ground. Welcome to your new job.

But today’s story deals with a speeding ticket that I recieved, when returning to my dorm room at West Georgia University, where I stayed while working at Plant Yates.

It was around two in the morning, and I was returning home in my 1982 diesel Volkswagen Rabbit along the highway towards Carrollton (the home of West Georgia University). The highway speed limit was something like 50 mph, and that’s about what I was doing. What I didn’t realize, though, was that once you enter the city limits of tiny little Whitesville Whitesburg — and you need to understand, you could, back then, enter and exit Whitesville Whitesburg in about 15 seconds — the speed limit drops to 30 mph.

Just as I exited Whitesville Whitesburg (in fact, I didn’t even realized I’d passed a town), I saw a police car pull out of the forest on the outskirts of town, and fire up the lights and sirens, in hot pursuit of my little Rabbit. I pulled over, and a somewhat overweight Officer Buford (or something like that like) came moseying up alongside the driver’s window, hand on his gun. He looks in, chompin’ on a wad of chewing tobacco, and we have the following conversation:

Officer: Boy, I don’t know about Gwinnett county (spit) but down here in Whitesville Whitesburg we have traffic laws. You know how fast you just drove through town? 70 MILES-AN-HOUR!

Me: Sir, that’s kinda hard to believe, since my diesel Rabbit only has 42 horsepower. I actually don’t think I’ve ever exceeded 65 mph in this car.

Officer: Don’t go gittin’ smart with me, BOY! (Hand tightens up on the gun. Spit.) You wanna come look at the screen of my radar?

Me: No, no.. that’s ok, sir.

So Officer Buford proceeds to write me out a $50 speeding ticket, and sends me on my way.

Now, 50 bucks was quite a lot for a struggling coop student. I got to thinking on the way back home, that (a) he was perpendicular to the road on a secluded forest path when he scanned me, (b) I may have been going above 30 mph, but my diesel Rabbit really wasn’t capable of going 70, and (c) this just wasn’t right! Talking to a friend who said he knew something about police radars, I was later told that often the radar’s calibration speed is 70 mph — meaning, if he was right, that Office Buford could make his radar read 70 mph anytime he wants.

So, I decided to fight the ticket in court.

Well, turns out court in Whitesville Whitesburg only happens every now and then, when the traveling Judge makes his rounds, and so my date was scheduled for a month into the future, when I’d already be back in Atlanta at school.

I carefully prepared my case, with charts, diagrams, analysis and references, explaining how radar doesn’t work on a perpendicular vector, how Buford’s calibration frequency needs to be checked to see if it was a coincidental 70 mph, how my little car doesn’t go 70 mph, and, for good measure, how it was my first offense. With that all ready, I was convinced I’d win.

So, on a Thursday afternoon, I confidently headed back down to Whitesville Whitesburg. As at the time, there was no courthouse in Whitesville Whitesburg, court was held in the basement of a Miss Dorothy’s lovely colonial house. Miss Dorothy even had chocolate cookies ready for the occassion. All us accused sat in little metal folding chairs, and the Honorable Judge behind a fake wood-grain folding table.

Court began, and there were about 27 other cases to be heard, — half of which were DUI’s and the other half, wife beatings. Somehow, mine was the last case to be heard, and the Judge woke up when I was the first person to plead, “Not Guilty.”

So after painstakingly walking through my presentation and analysis, the judge, with furrowed brow, looks at me over the top if his spectacles and thoughtfully says, “Mister Henderson, I’m pretty sure you didn’t mean to be traveling 70 mph. (long pause) But, Officer Buford here says you were traveling 70 mph, and I do believe him. Now, son, since this is your first offense, I’m gonna go easy on you. Plaintiff to pay a fee of $50. [gavel slams down on table] See you all next month.”

Published inLife


  1. Narayan Narayan

    The cop probably would have just shot me and called it justice.

    Ahhh, the south.

  2. snowbag snowbag

    Pretty good story: I understand why your friend suggested you share it.

  3. Todd Stover Todd Stover

    I’m not sure I ever saw that rabbit go over 55.

  4. William William

    My family and I have lived in Whitesville, Georgia since 1959. We have never had a police department or held court in our small town. If you received a ticket in Whitesville it would have been given to you by a Harris County Sheriff Deputy and you would have gone to court at the County Court House in Hamilton. The road that goes through Whitesville is HWY 219 and the speed limit is 45 miles an hour from the time you leave Columbus till you arrive in LaGrange. The speed does not and has never lowered when entering Whitesville. I find your story to be factually false. In fact Whitesville is not even located where your story points it out to be – between Newnan and Carrollton. Whitesville is south of both locations. You would have had to travel 50 miles in the opposite directions to reach Whitesville. Also I don’t like the fact that you stole a picture off my dad’s website to use in this fairytale.

  5. Randy J. Houlahan BSc. Randy J. Houlahan BSc.

    Wow, the judge did not give you a reason for not accepting your evidence?

    Randy J. Houlahan BSc.

  6. mhenders mhenders

    William, this happened almost 20 years ago. While some of the details might be sketchy, the story was so memorable for me that it seems like it was almost yesterday, and the above is my recollection of how things happened. What more can I say? I can certainly tell you I wouldn’t make something like this up!

  7. T. F. McCarley T. F. McCarley

    Hey Matt
    I worked at Plant Yates during your time there as I & C Supv.
    It wasn’t horse crap, it was cow crap and its not Whitesville, its Whitesburg, Ga.

  8. Shayla Shayla

    This same exact thing just happened to me two months ago!!!!! The cop stopped me trying to say i was speeding 55 in a 30. Well my sister was in the car with me and she as well said sister theres no way you were going that fast! He stopped me right in front of a school for gods sake! I know I was not going 55mph. and right when you enter whitesburg the speed drops from like 45 to 30. and maybe i was going a little over 30, but theres no way in hell i was speeding 55mph! I am still overly pissed about this! Just because your a cop doesnt mean its okay to lie to people and write them tickets!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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