Jersey City councilwoman loses driver’s license, pays $5K fine for hit-and-run

Critics have demanded Amy DeGise’s resignation, but she said she will not step down

By: - January 24, 2023 4:04 pm

Jersey City Councilwoman Amy DeGise admitted that she left the scene of an accident in July after striking a cyclist with her SUV. (Photo courtesy of Hudson County View)

Six months after Jersey City Councilwoman Amy DeGise was caught on camera hitting a cyclist with her SUV and then fleeing, DeGise admitted in court Tuesday that she left the scene of an accident.

DeGise was sentenced to pay a $5,000 fine and to a one-year driver’s license suspension after pleading guilty in an Essex County courtroom. Prosecutors dropped the other charge of failure to report an accident.

DeGise, a Democrat elected to the city’s council in 2021, didn’t speak during the hearing except to answer simple questions from Judge Chandra R. Cole in the Newark courtroom. She was represented by Brian Neary, who asked for a $2,500 fine. The judge declined.

In a statement released after the hearing, DeGise called the July 19 collision a “mistake that I will regret for the rest of my life” and apologized for the “negative attention” she brought to her city. She also apologized to the cyclist, who video shows was running a red light when DeGise struck him. 

“As someone who grew up here and has seen how much Jersey City has grown and progressed, the last thing I would ever want to do is damage our city’s reputation and undermine the work that is happening every day in local government to make it an even better place to live, work and raise a family,” DeGise said.

DeGise faced calls for her resignation when the video surfaced last year of her colliding with the cyclist — and not stopping — at the intersection of Martin Luther King Drive and Forrest Street in Jersey City. The cyclist went flying in the air but reported no serious injuries. DeGise reported the crash six hours later to the Jersey City police. 

In Tuesday’s statement, DeGise said she will not resign from her post and will serve the remainder of her term through 2025. She said she accepts the legal consequences and will work to regain the trust of Jersey City residents. 

“Public service is in my blood and is my calling. Helping people and building solutions in my home city means everything to me. I have tried to focus since that day on continuing to serve my community with humility and a genuine desire to give back through meaningful work and fighting to make a difference in my constituents’ lives,” she said. 

In the weeks following the crash, DeGise remained largely silent, even as The Jersey Journal uncovered dozens of parking tickets she didn’t pay and Hudson County View obtained video of her appearing to use her political connections to prevent a Hoboken cop from ordering her unregistered car towed.

The July 19 crash drew national attention, and hundreds showed up at an August council meeting to demand she step down.

Only two of her fellow council members, James Solomon and Frank Gillmore, have called on her to resign. Residents considered an effort to recall DeGise, but would need to collect over 42,000 signatures — an uphill battle they never waged.  

DeGise’s hearing took place in Essex County because of her connections to Hudson County. Not only is she a councilwoman at large for Jersey City, but she also is the daughter of Hudson County Executive Thomas DeGise and was previously chair of the Hudson County Democratic Party.

Spokespeople for Gov. Phil Murphy and Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop — who both said to let the legal process play out before jumping to conclusions about whether she should resign — did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Critics of DeGise who have sought her resignation plan to rally outside City Hall in Jersey City on Monday, Feb. 6 at 5:30 p.m.

An earlier version of this story should have said DeGise appeared in municipal court in Newark.

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Sophie Nieto-Munoz
Sophie Nieto-Munoz

Sophie Nieto-Muñoz, a New Jersey native and former Trenton statehouse reporter for NJ.com, shined a spotlight on the state’s crumbling unemployment system and won several awards for investigative reporting from the New Jersey Press Association. She was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for her report on PetSmart's grooming practices, which was also recognized by the New York Press Club. Sophie speaks Spanish and is proud to connect to the Latinx community through her reporting.

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