A day before the city’s school zone speed cameras went dark this summer — prompting outrage from elected officials — one of them caught Councilman Jumaane Williams’ car zooming past a school.
It wasn’t the first time.
The car belonging to Williams, who has said he intends to run for public advocate, has been issued a staggering 18 violations for being caught on a camera speeding in a school zone since March of 2016, according to public records.
One of them was on July 24 — just a day before the cameras were shut off due to inaction by the state Senate. He has received tickets as recently as last month — one on Oct. 10, and another just two days later on October 12. Both were around dismissal time — 2:58 p.m. and 2:45 p.m., respectively.
One one occasion, Williams managed to be issued two speed camera violations on the same day, mere minutes apart — at 9:22 a.m. and 9:24 a.m. on Oct. 19, 2017.
Asked about his dismal driving record, Williams implied he was the victim — of a political attack.
“I assumed the political attacks would start once the public advocate race officially began, but it’s clear that some are eager to get started early,” he said in a statement.
To get one of the tickets, a vehicle must be traveling on a street adjacent to a school entrance, and must be going more than 10 miles per hour above the speed limit during school hours. Camera violations, which are $50, are issued to the owner of the car — not necessarily the person driving, and Williams said some may have been issued when somebody else was driving his car.
“I take full ownership of these traffic tickets even though some may have occurred when I wasn’t the driver behind the wheel,” Williams said. “I took care of them, paid the fine, and have no points on my driving record to date. Still, I fully support the lower speed limit in school zones and will take extra caution moving forward.”
The two most recent tickets have not yet been paid, according to city records. Williams contested seven of the tickets. In four of those instances, he was found guilty. In three, the tickets were adjourned. Some of the tickets were contested because they were not sent to Williams with the required supporting documents, his staff said.
While Williams said he had taken care of the tickets, the vast majority of them had penalty amounts tacked on — indicating they were paid late. Some of them were paid late enough to accrue small amounts of interest. All were issued in Brooklyn.
The car belonging to Williams has been hit with so many tickets that, under proposals from Mayor de Blasio and Councilman Brad Lander, it would have been taken off the road.
Last March, de Blasio proposed a state law with escalating fines for repeated camera violations within a two-year period — leading to a suspension of a vehicle’s registration for the sixth violation in two years. Just 34,134 cars had managed to get caught six times within two years, the city said then; Williams’ car fits that bill.
“You shouldn’t be able to hide behind the fact that the car was registered to you, but maybe someone else was driving,” de Blasio said in March.
And Lander proposed in June that five red-light or speed camera violations in a year would require the owner to take a driving course or face their car being impounded or booted.
Williams has a spotty record when it comes to speeding issues — he was the only Democrat in the Council to vote against lowering the speed limit on most city streets to 25 miles per hour, a central tenet of the Vision Zero program.
He railed against that speed limit as recently as last year, getting into a Twitter tiff with transportation wonks after a Streetsblog reporter shared a comment he made calling it “impossible” to drive 25 miles per hour on some city streets.
In the ensuing back-and-forth, Williams called the 25 miles-per-hour speed limit — which is based on research showing people are much more likely to survive collisions at that speed than higher ones — “arbitrary.”
He went on to sarcastically suggest banning cars, and to note people would be safer if drivers went 5 miles per hour.
“And $50 fine for am [sic] impractical speed limit is no bueno,” he added in the May 2017 exchange.
Nonetheless, Williams voted in favor of legislation introduced late this summer to turn the speed cameras back on — and said he supports their use.
“For the past decade as an elected official, I’ve advocated for the city to increase the amount of speed cameras in school zones, and will continue working with the administration to enhance safety measures that protect pedestrians throughout the five boroughs,” he said.