Town of Clinton, NJ
Hunterdon County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Town of Clinton 6-8-2004 by Ord. No. 04-04. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Vehicles and traffic — See Ch. 135.
Inoperable vehicles — See Ch. 138.

§ 129-1 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
AUTOMOBILE
A private passenger motor vehicle, or any vehicle included in the definition of "automobile" under N.J.A.C. 11:3-38.2.
BASIC TOWING SERVICE
The removal and transportation of an automobile from a highway, street or other public or private road, or a parking area, or from a storage facility, and other services normally incident thereto, but does not include recovery of an automobile from a position beyond the right-of-way or berm, or from being impaled upon any other object within the right-of-way berm.
MOTOR VEHICLE
All vehicles propelled otherwise than by muscular power, except such vehicles as run only upon rails or tracks, or motorized bicycles.
TOW OPERATOR
A person engaged in the business of towing and storing motor vehicles or offering the services of a tow vehicle or tow truck and storage services.
TOW VEHICLE or TOW TRUCK
Those vehicles equipped with a boom or booms, winches, slings, tilt beds, wheel lifts or under-reach equipment specifically designed by their manufacturer for the removal or transport of motor vehicles, including flatbed vehicles, employed for the purpose of towing, transporting, conveying and/or removing motor vehicles which are unable to be operated under their own power from one place to another, for which a fee is charged.
TOWN
The Town of Clinton.

§ 129-2 Approval required.

No person shall engage in the business of towing or storage of motor vehicles at the direction of the Town of Clinton without first obtaining approval and licensing therefor from the Town of Clinton. Nothing herein shall require the rendering of road services or the provision of towing and storage services within the Town other than at the request of the Town.

§ 129-3 Services to be provided.

A. 
Tow operators shall furnish adequate and proper wrecking, towing, storage and minimal or minor emergency repair services to motor vehicles damaged or disabled within the limits of the Town, when requested to do so by the Chief of Police or his authorized designee.
B. 
No tow operator shall subcontract any work to be performed pursuant to this chapter without having first obtained prior written approval from the Chief of Police. Any tow operator to whom approval to subcontract work has been given shall be responsible for the services performed by the subcontractor and shall remain liable for any violations of this chapter by the subcontractor.

§ 129-4 Application for approval.

Applicants for approval under this chapter shall file with the Chief of Police an application on a form to be furnished by the Chief of Police which shall include the following information and certification.
A. 
The full name and address of the applicant and/or owner(s) of the towing service. The application must state the type of business entity that is operating the business, i.e., sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation. If the application is made for a corporation, it shall state the name and addresses of the officers and directors thereof, its registered agent, and the names and residential addresses of every stockholder owning more than 10% of the issued stock. If the application is made on behalf of a sole proprietorship or partnership, all parties having an equity interest in the towing service shall be listed.
B. 
The year, make and type of each tow vehicle used in said business, its serial number, registration number and registered owner(s) and licenses held by each owner, application or operators.
C. 
The address where the tow vehicle or vehicles shall be regularly garaged, the telephone number or numbers and the hours during which service is available at those numbers, and the names, addresses and New Jersey driver license numbers of all operators.
D. 
The location, size and security features of the storage lot or space in which towed vehicles will be stored, including the number of spaces available. The storage lot shall be designated either as:
(1) 
Inside building: a vehicle storage facility that is completely indoors, having one or more openings in the walls for storage and removal of vehicles that is secured by a locking device on each opening;
(2) 
Outside secured: a vehicle storage facility that is not indoors and is secured by a fence, walls, or other man-made barrier that is at least six feet high and is installed with a passive alarm system or a similar on-site security measure. This facility is to be lighted at night.
(3) 
Outside unsecured: a vehicle storage facility that is not indoors and is not secured by fence, wall or other man-made barrier, and all other storage facilities not defined above as "inside building" or "outside secured."
E. 
The name and address of the insurance carriers, and the policy numbers of all insurance policies as required by this chapter.
F. 
A copy of the operator's current fee schedule for towing and storage services.
G. 
A statement that on-call towing and storage services will be available 24 hours per day, every day of the year.
H. 
A statement that the procedures required by this chapter shall be complied with at all times.
I. 
A statement that all tow vehicles are equipped with two-way radios or cellular phones.
J. 
A statement that the Chief of Police or his designee may at any reasonable time conduct an inspection of the tow vehicles or storage facility of any applicant for the purpose of determining compliance with this chapter.
K. 
Whether the tow operator wishes to be designated as a "light-duty tower" or "heavy-duty tower," or both.
L. 
Such other information as the Chief of Police may prescribe.

§ 129-5 Classification standards of tow operators.

The following minimum standards must be met for each class of towers.
A. 
Light-duty. A light-duty tower shall be abler to handle all makes of passenger cars and small trucks up to two tons, such as pickup and small panel trucks. The garage from which a light-duty tower originates must be equipped with a portable car dolly. Each light-duty tower shall be equipped with the following:
[Amended 9-9-2008 by Ord. No. 08-13]
(1) 
Dual rear wheel or equivalent.
(2) 
Power take-off controlled winch with a minimum cable thickness of 3/8 inch or equivalent.
(3) 
Comparable weight equal to the vehicles to be towed, with a minimum of 10,000 pounds.
(4) 
A three-eighths-inch safety chain. The lift chain and safety chain shall not be attached in any form or manner to the same part of the wrecker.
(5) 
Two double-faced rear flashing amber fights mounted high enough to be seen over the towed vehicle.
(6) 
A three-hundred-sixty-degree rotating amber beacon fight mounted over the cab.
(7) 
All lights shall be of such candlepower and intensity as to be visible 1/4 of a mile away.
(8) 
Tow operator shall own at least one flatbed truck for the removal of vehicles from roadways. A flatbed truck will be used when, in the opinion of the tower and the police officer on the scene, towing of the vehicle by conventional means would result in further damage.
B. 
Heavy-duty. All towers classified as "heavy-duty" shall be equipped with the following:
(1) 
Dual rear wheels.
(2) 
Manufacturer rating: gross vehicle weight of 32,000 pounds. Manufacturer rating may be obtained from the factory where the truck originated. Other written evidence of gross vehicle weight may be accepted by the Town, if verified.
(3) 
Power take-off controlled winch with a minimum cable thickness of five-eights-inch.
(4) 
Two double-faced rear flashing amber lights mounted high enough to be seen over the towed vehicle.
(5) 
All lights shall be of such candle power and intensity as to be visible 1/4 of a mile.
(6) 
A one-half-inch safety chain. The lift chain and safety chain shall not be attached in any form or manner to the same part of the wrecker.
(7) 
Air brakes.
(8) 
Connecting air lines for connection with the compressor and air brake lines of the towed vehicles.
(9) 
Detachable amber flashing lights attached to the rear of the towed vehicle.
(10) 
Two-speed rear axle and differential and dual transmission or-five-speed transmission.
C. 
In order to be qualified for application approval, the tower must have at least the following number of trucks:
(1) 
Light-duty towing: one truck and one flat bed.
(2) 
Heavy-duty towing: one truck.

§ 129-6 Application review.

A. 
The Chief of Police shall conduct or cause to be conducted such investigation as he deems necessary to determine the truth and accuracy of the information contained in the application and whether the applicant meets the following minimum standards:
(1) 
Neither the applicant nor any tow vehicle operator has any criminal convictions or prior motor vehicle infractions that might adversely affect public safety or welfare.
(2) 
The applicant has the ability to respond to any request for assistance within 20 minutes.
(3) 
The applicant can provide on-call towing services 24 hours per day, every day of the year.
(4) 
The tow trucks and equipment are in safe and sound condition and in compliance with all applicable law, rules and regulations.
(5) 
The applicant has the ability to perform mechanical inspections of and minor repairs to disabled vehicles.
(6) 
The applicant owns or has a valid lease to a storage facility within or within five miles of the Town in an area legally zoned for such use, and such storage facility includes a minimum of 10 outside spaces and a secured facility for storage of impounded vehicles.
(7) 
The applicant is in compliance with and/or has the ability to comply with all other requirements and standards set forth herein.
B. 
The Chief of Police shall conduct his review and render a written decision on the application, within 20 days of receipt of the application. An applicant may file a written appeal of the decision of the Chief of Police within 14 days of notice of the decision in accordance with § 129-8 of this chapter.

§ 129-7 Revocation.

A. 
Approvals issued under this chapter may be revoked by the Chief of Police after reasonable notice and hearing pursuant to § 129-7 for any of the following reasons:
(1) 
False or materially inaccurate information in the application, or a change of circumstances which would have caused disapproval of the application if existing at the time of approval.
(2) 
Failure to comply with any of the requirements of this chapter, any additional regulations promulgated by the Chief of Police, or any state, federal or local law relating to motor vehicle operation.
(3) 
Unsatisfactory service that jeopardizes public safety. More than three unexcused failures to respond and/or valid complaints (as determined by the Chief of Police after investigation) within a twelve-month period shall be considered grounds for revocation.
B. 
Notice of revocation shall be in writing and shall state the reason therefor and notice of the licensee's right to appeal to the Mayor and Council.

§ 129-8 Appeals.

Any person aggrieved by the action of the Chief of Police in denial of an application, or in revocation thereof, or in the suspension from the tow operators' on-call towing list, may appeal to the Town Council by filing with the Office of the Clerk, within 14 days after notice of the action complained of has been mailed to such person's last known address, a written request for a hearing, setting forth fully the grounds for the appeal. The Mayor and Council will set a time and place for a hearing on such appeal, and notice shall be served on or mailed to the applicant or licensee at least five days prior to the hearing. The applicant, or its representative, shall be permitted to appear and be heard at that time. Written notice of the approval or denial of the appeal shall be provided to the applicant within seven days of the decision of the Town Council.

§ 129-9 Insurance requirements.

A. 
Every operator shall carry insurance as follows:
(1) 
Comprehensive automobile liability in an amount not less than $1,000,000 combined single limits;
(2) 
Workers' compensation coverage as required by state law;
(3) 
Garage keeper's liability in an amount not lets than $60,000;
(4) 
Garage liability in an amount not less than $1,000,000 combined single limits;
(5) 
Comprehensive general liability coverage in an amount not less than $1,000,000 for each person and $2,000,000 for each accident;
(6) 
Endorsements providing for collision coverage for vehicles in tow;
(7) 
Endorsements incorporating the indemnification provision as set forth herein;
(8) 
Endorsements naming the Town as an additional insured in all insurance policies (except workers' compensation policies).
B. 
All tow operators shall hold harmless and indemnify the Town, its officers, employees and agents, from any and all liability claims, losses or damage arising or alleged to arise from the performance of the towing services requested of or rendered by the licensee. The foregoing indemnification language shall be incorporated in the required general comprehensive liability policy.
C. 
All insurance policies shall be written by insurance companies acceptable to the Town and authorized to do business in the State of New Jersey.
D. 
No approval shall be issued until the applicant has submitted the certificates of insurance evidencing the insurance coverage and endorsements required. All certificates must provide for 30 days' prior written notice to the Town of policy cancellation or material change.
E. 
Any approval issued under this chapter will be automatically revoked upon expiration or cancellation of the required insurance, or material change in coverage that renders that coverage not in compliance with the requirements of this chapter.

§ 129-10 On-call towing list.

A. 
The Chief of Police shall maintain a list of those approved tow operators to respond to calls from the Town Police Department. In order to be included on the on-call list, an applicant must meet all of the requirements of this chapter.
B. 
Calls to tow operators on the on-call list shall be made on a nondiscriminatory basis pursuant to procedures established by the Chief of Police. The Chief of Police or his designee may call a tow operator out of sequence or seek the services of a tow operator not on the on-call list if circumstances require specialized equipment or if the interests of public safety so require.
C. 
The fees to be charged for towing and storage services shall be as set forth in this chapter. The Town shall not be liable for the cost of any towing and/or storage services unless those services are performed on a municipal vehicle.
D. 
Inclusion on the on-call towing list shall be automatically revoked upon revocation of approval. The Chief of Police may also suspend a tow operator's inclusion on the on-call towing list for such period of time as the Chief considers appropriate for violations of this chapter, after a hearing on such violations. Suspensions may be appealed pursuant to the procedures set forth in § 129-8.
E. 
Nothing in this section shall prohibit a motorist or motor vehicle owner from summoning a tow operator of his or her own choosing, except that any Town police officer at the scene of an incident requiring towing services shall be responsible for making the final determination as to when towing shall take place and which tow operator shall be called.
F. 
All vehicles towed at the request of the Town must be removed to an approved storage facility in the State of New Jersey unless the owner or operator of the vehicle specifically requests that it be towed to another destination. Any Town police officer at the scene shall be responsible for making the final determination as to the towing destination.

§ 129-11 Issuance of license.

A. 
Upon receipt of notice by the Clerk that an application has been approved and classified and upon the payment of the license fee designated herein, the Municipal Clerk shall issue a license, designated "light-duty" or "heavy-duty," or both. The term of a license shall be for two year(s).
B. 
The fee for a license, for each light-duty operation only, shall be $100 per year.
C. 
The fee for a license, for a heavy-duty operation only, shall be $100 per year.
D. 
The fee for a license, for a combination light-duty and heavy-duty operation, shall be $150 per year.

§ 129-12 Fee schedule.

[Amended 9-9-2008 by Ord. No. 08-13]
A. 
Towing rate schedules. The Chief of Police shall recommend to the Mayor and Council rate schedules for towing fees to be charged by a tow operator in the Town of Clinton pursuant to this chapter based on the usual, customary and reasonable rates of operators towing motor vehicles in the Town. The Mayor and Council may accept such recommendation by adopting a resolution establishing those rates.
B. 
Storage rate schedules. The Chief of Police shall recommend to the Mayor and Council rate schedules for storage fees to be charged by a tow operator in the Town of Clinton for the storage of towed vehicles pursuant to this chapter based on the usual, customary and reasonable rates of operators storing towed motor vehicles in the Town. The Mayor and Council may accept such recommendation by adopting a resolution establishing those rates.
C. 
Availability of fee schedules to the public. All fee schedules shall be made available to the public during normal business hours in the office of the Town Clerk, and posted conspicuously at the tow operator's storage area and any repair garage operated by the tow operator. Prior to commencing any tow service, the police shall present to the owner or operator of the disabled vehicle a document clearly and concisely setting forth the tow operator's name, telephone number, location of its storage area and a towing and storage fee schedule in plain language.
D. 
Pursuant to law, the fee schedule set by resolution as provided in Subsections A and B above shall be reviewed by the New Jersey Commissioner of Insurance on an annual basis. In the event the fee schedules are revised by the Commissioner, the revised fees shall be the maximum fees that may be charged by official tow operators, and the revised fee schedules shall be posted as provided in Subsection C above.
E. 
Fees charged by a tow operator which is called to the scene by the Police Department of the Town shall be the same as those set forth by resolution pursuant to Subsections A and B above. Any other towing services to motor vehicles when requested privately by individuals shall be at the rates as agreed to between the individual and the tow operator.

§ 129-13 Miscellaneous provisions.

A. 
Copies of this chapter and the schedule of fees that may be charged by tow operators shall be made available to the public during normal business hours at the Town Municipal Building and Police Department. Copies shall also be made available to the public at each tow operator's place of business.
B. 
All tow operators shall post, in a prominent place at each storage area clearly visible to the public, a schedule of the fees that may be charged for all services provided pursuant to this chapter.
C. 
The Town reserves the right to make periodic unannounced inspections of the personnel, vehicles, equipment and storage areas of all tow operators.
D. 
The relationship between the tow operator and the Town is one of an independent contractor. Neither party shall be construed in any manner whatsoever to be an employee of the other, nor shall any employee or agent of the other party. Inclusion on the towers list shall not be construed or considered as a joint venture, partnership, association, contract of employment or profit-sharing agreement.
E. 
The municipality shall not be liable or responsible for compensating the tow operators for any of the services performed under this chapter unless those services are performed for the Town vehicles. Compensation shall be the responsibility of the owner of the towed motor vehicle and the tow operator shall proceed directly against the owner.
F. 
The tow operator shall, at all times, be solely responsible for the conduct of its employees. No licensee shall discriminate as to hiring or employment practices. Licensees shall be required to sign a nondiscrimination statement.
G. 
Each tow operator shall keep and maintain adequate and complete records showing all vehicles towed, stored and released, all services rendered and all fees charged and collected. All records shall be available for inspection by the Town at any time during normal business hours. Records shall be kept and maintained by the tow operator at one central location and shall be retained for a period of seven years. Records may be written, printed or computerized as long as the requirements of this subsection are met.
H. 
The tow operator shall comply with all state and federal laws and regulations concerning wages, hours, and terms of employment.

§ 129-14 Dispute resolution and license suspension or revocation.

A. 
In the event a complaint is received by the Town involving the improper or unsatisfactory performance of services by a tow operator in violation of this chapter, excessive charges or damage to a motor vehicle while in custody of the tow operator, written notice of same shall be provided by the Town Administrator to the tow operator involved. The tow operator shall have the opportunity to respond, in writing, within seven days.
B. 
Within 14 days of receipt of the tow operator's response, or within 21 days of receipt of the complaint if no response is received, the matter shall be presented by the Town Administrator to the Mayor and Council.
C. 
The Mayor and Council shall, thereafter, consider the matter at a regular public meeting and may request that the complainant and the tow operator involved appear and give testimony regarding the complaint.
D. 
After considering the matter and the evidence presented, the Mayor and Council shall make certain findings and conclusions relative to the complaint, which shall constitute their decision. If The Council finds in favor of the complainant and against the tow operator, the Council may consider and impose the following penalties:
(1) 
Suspension of the tow operator's license;
(2) 
Revocation of such license for a fixed period or duration;
(3) 
Permanent revocation of the official tower's license;
(4) 
Such other penalty as the Mayor and Council deems just and appropriate under the circumstances. In considering the imposition of a suspension, revocation or other penalty, the Council shall take into account factors, including but not limited to any prior violations of the tow operator, the nature and seriousness of the complaint, the danger to the health, safety and welfare of the public.
E. 
Failure to surrender the license upon revocation shall constitute a violation of this chapter.
F. 
Nothing contained herein shall prevent or limit the right of any person to commence or maintain an action for damages or any other relief directly against a tow operator in a court of competent jurisdiction.

§ 129-15 Regulations and procedures.

The Chief of Police shall promulgate such rules, regulations and procedures, not inconsistent with this chapter, as may be reasonable and necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter. Copies thereof shall be provided to all approved tow operators and shall be made available to the public, along with copies of current fee schedules, during normal business hours. Failure to comply with applicable rules, regulations and procedures may be cause for revocation of a tow operator's approval.

§ 129-16 Violations and penalties.

A. 
Any person who shall violate any of the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000, and each violation of any of the provisions of this chapter and each day the same is violated shall be deemed and taken to be a separate and distinct offense.
B. 
In addition to the fine provided above, a violation of any of the provisions of this chapter shall be cause for suspension or revocation of the tow operator's license.
C. 
The Town Police Department or any member thereof is hereby declared to be the enforcement agency of this chapter, in accordance with due process of law, as well as any applicable rules and regulations.