NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Robert Rawls, New Brunswick’s fire director, is back behind the wheel of a city-owned vehicle.

Rawls reportedly pleaded guilty in August 2014 to careless driving. That move stemmed from an earlier incident in which he struck three children in a crosswalk with a city-owned SUV, according to news reports.

After the crash, New Brunswick banned the veteran fire official from driving city vehicles. But officials in mid-February restored that ability, City Administrator Thomas Loughlin III said during a recent City Council meeting.

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“The mayor made that decision in consultation with Robert,” Loughlin said. “It is important to his ability to manage the department to be able to move around freely in a city vehicle.”

When questioned by a resident, Loughlin said he was “sure Mr. Rawls’ driving record was a consideration” in restoring his driving privileges.

Several news outlets have reported that Rawls has been involved in 19 car crashes.

“The fact that he also took a defensive-driving course and has a driving record deemed in good standing by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle [Commission] was also a factor,” Loughlin added.

In October, the New Brunswick City Council approved the purchase of a 2017 Chevy Tahoe for Rawls’ official use. The city paid $35,124 to Hertrich Fleet Services of Delaware.

While Rawls was present at last week’s city council meeting, he didn’t discuss his renewed approval to drive city-owned vehicles. He didn’t return messages left by TAPinto New Brunswick today with his office.