City Firefighter Remains On The Job After Drunk Driving Arrest in NY

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—A New Brunswick firefighter is still on the job despite an out-of-state arrest for driving while intoxicated with two young children in his vehicle.

The incident was first reported by a TV station in New York state, but weeks later City Hall confirmed that, even though the man arrested is the same Carmine Luizza who has been on the New Brunswick Fire Department (NBFD) since 2002, he's still working there.

"The man in the article and the employee of the same name are the same person," confirmed City Hall spokesperson Jennifer Bradshaw. "He is not currently suspended."

According to public records from 2014, Luizza was paid an annual salary of $92,735, a number that has increased with the recent approval of a new contract between the city and its firefighters union.

According to News10.com, police responded to a report of a vehicle "driving erratically" on I-87 in Clifton Park, New York, at about 6:50pm on Sunday, March 6:

Police found the vehicle at a gas station off the interstate and interviewed the operator identified as 40-year-old Carmine Luizza.

Police claim a strong odor of alcohol was detected from his breath. Following field sobriety tests, police said Luizza was arrested for DWI. There were also two children, both under the age of 16, in the vehicle at the time, according to NYSP.

Luizza was taken to the station where he blew a breath sample of .09 percent BAC.

He was charged with felony Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated with a Child Less than 16 in the vehicle. He was processed and released to a third party and ordered to appear in court at a later date.

Last year, Liuzza forfeited a shift's pay as punishment for an undisclosed infraction, according to city officials.

As we reported, he was one of at least three firefighters to face discipline during 2015.

One firefighter returned to work after a three-month suspension, while another remains suspended without pay as he faces criminal charges of collecting disability payments at the same time he was working for the department.

Still, some firefighters in other departments have been known to suffer severe consequences for less dangerous crimes.

In Atlantic County, prosecutors are seeking to have a firefighter removed from office over a shoplifiting conviction where a judge found the firefighter had shoplifted $7.98 worth of merchandise from a Wawa convenience store. 

In New Jersey, drunken driving falls under motor vehicle offenses, and is not a criminal offense.  However, Liuzza's New York state DWI charge is considered a felony under "Leandra's Law," also known as the Child Passenger Protection Act.

Liuzza isn't the only member of the NBFD with a blemished driving record, and one source told NBToday that he is not the first New Brunswick firefighter to be charged with drunk driving and keep his job there.

In 2014, the NBFD's Director Robert Rawls crashed into three children who were crossing the street in a crosswalk.

Rawls was sentenced to pay $206 for careless driving, but the city is now facing litigation from the children's families.  After it was revealed it was the nineteenth crash of Rawls' driving career, his on-the-job driving priveleges were revoked.

 

Charlie is a community organizer, a Rutgers journalism graduate, and a 2018 independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick.

He can be reached at (732) 993-9697 or [email protected]