Town of Smithtown, NY
Suffolk County
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Smithtown as Ch. 41 of the 1964 Code; amended in its entirety 5-4-1993. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]

§ 281-1 Title.

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Tow Truck Ordinance of the Town of Smithtown."

§ 281-2 Purpose.

It is, therefore, the purpose and intent of this chapter to establish an orderly system for the safe and expeditious removal of damaged and/or disabled motor vehicles from the roads of the Town of Smithtown, to supervise and control the operation of towing businesses within the Town, to ensure that, when towing services are selected from a rotating list maintained at the behest of the Town, motor vehicles damaged or disabled are towed to convenient and certain locations and to protect the public from frauds, overcharges and similar abuses.

§ 281-3 Definitions.

Unless otherwise expressly provided, the following words for the purposes of this chapter shall have the meanings herein indicated:
ACCIDENT
Any incident or occurrence in which one or more motor vehicles come in contact with each other or other objects, thereby causing the vehicles to be inoperable.
APPLICANT
A person who is applying for a towing business license.
BODY SHOP
A motor vehicle repair shop as defined in, and holding a license as required by, the State of New York Motor Vehicle Repair Shop Registration Act.[1]
CONTAINMENT AREA
Any place where tow trucks and/or motor vehicles are stored and shall be in compliance with § 281-12E of this chapter.
DRIVER
Any person operating a tow truck upon the roads within the Town.
DUTY OPERATOR
A licensed tower called from the duty roster.
FOR HIRE
Includes any incident where a fee, charge or other consideration is directly or indirectly imposed for towing, and it shall include any case where any person makes repairs on a towed vehicle for a consideration and no charge is expressly imposed for the towing of such vehicle.
GARAGE
Any place where mechanical repairs of motor vehicles are conducted.
HEAVY-DUTY TOW TRUCK
A tow truck capable of righting and towing a motor vehicle over four tons, with a minimum sixteen-ton boom capacity.
OPERATE
Includes the control and direction for the use of a motor vehicle and the use of a vehicle for towing from places within the Town.
PERMIT
A certificate issued by the Town Clerk.
PERMITTEE
A person who is the holder of a valid towing permit.
TOWER
Includes a person owning or controlling one or more tow trucks and driving or operating or causing any such vehicle to be operated upon the public highways for hire.
TOWING
The carrying, lifting or moving of a motor vehicle by another motor vehicle.
TOWING BUSINESS
The operation of one or more tow trucks for hire.
TOWN
The unincorporated area of the Town of Smithtown outside the incorporated villages located within the Town of Smithtown, whether on private property or on the roads of the Town.
TOW TRUCK
A motor vehicle which is designed or equipped for carrying, lifting or moving another motor vehicle.
WINCHING
To hoist, haul or push, by a winch not connected with a boom or not connected to the operation of towing, upon a flatbed.
[Added 2-12-2002]
YARD FEE
Includes any fee, charge or other consideration directly or indirectly imposed by the tower on the owner of a towed vehicle other than towing, storage or repair of the vehicle.
[1]:
Editor's Note: See Vehicle and Traffic Law § 398 et seq.

§ 281-4 Permit required.

[Amended 7-22-2003; 4-4-2006; 6-10-2008]
No person, firm or corporation shall operate a tow truck or other motor vehicle designed for or capable of towing other motor vehicles for hire within the Town of Smithtown unless such operator shall have obtained a permit therefor from the Town Clerk as hereinafter provided, except that such operators whose businesses are principally housed and/or situated outside the Town of Smithtown may enter the Town to remove any motor vehicles from any body and fender repair shop, gasoline service station with facilities for auto repairs or specialized automobile repair facility or private residence or to travel through the Town without such permit.

§ 281-5 Requirements for permit issuance; application.

[Amended 7-22-2003; 4-4-2006; 6-10-2008]
A. 
No permit shall be issued to any person, firm or corporation unless the same is actually engaged in the operation of a body and fender repair shop, gasoline service station with facilities for automotive repairs or specialized automobile repair facility, which business is principally housed and/or situated within the Town of Smithtown and is not in violation of any of the provisions of the Code of the Town of Smithtown.
B. 
Application for permit. To procure a permit pursuant to § 281-4 or any renewal thereof, a verified application shall be made to the Department of Public Safety setting forth the following information:
(1) 
The name, residence address and business address of the applicant. If the applicant is a corporation, partnership or other business entity, the applicant shall also provide the name and address thereof and the names and residence addresses for all principals, officers, directors, partners and members.
(2) 
The registration number, vehicle identification number and the make, model and year of each vehicle to be operated and the equipment on each vehicle and its lifting and towing capacity.
(3) 
The applicant shall furnish the Department of Public Safety with a full set of the applicant's fingerprints.
[Amended 2-26-2009]
(a) 
The applicant shall be charged a fee of $140, which fee shall include the cost for a full search and retain from the Division of Criminal Justice Service. Said fee shall be collected by the Town of Smithtown.
[Amended 12-17-2009]
(b) 
The Department of Public Safety shall take the applicant's fingerprints and forward said prints to the Division of Criminal Justice Service for a complete criminal background and investigation upon receipt of the appropriate fee.
(c) 
The Director of the Department of Public Safety shall review all information provided by the Division of Criminal Justice Service in connection with the applicant's criminal background and investigation.
(4) 
If the applicant is a corporation, partnership or other business entity, the applicant shall furnish the name, address, and date of birth of each and every principal, officer, director, partner, and member, as well as the percent of ownership interest of each such person, and an affidavit from each such person describing his or her duties and responsibilities.
(5) 
The applicant shall provide a record of a prior conviction or convictions of any crime for which the applicant plead or was found guilty. If the applicant is a corporation, partnership or other business entity, it shall also provide a record of a prior conviction or convictions of any crime for which it plead or was found guilty.
(6) 
The applicant shall provide a list of any and all pending lawsuits to which it is a party and an explanation of each pending lawsuit, including any civil, criminal or administrative proceeding.
(7) 
The applicant shall provide a statement affirming that any premises utilized for the storage or repair of any vehicle is in full compliance with all applicable law, rules or regulations and has full site plan approval. No permit shall be issued unless the applicant demonstrates that any storage is permissible in the zoning district in which said vehicles or equipment is located and all permits have been obtained.
(8) 
The applicant shall provide a statement of the location of the storage area of the listed vehicles.
(9) 
The applicant shall provide any other information or documentation required by the Town Clerk and/or Department of Public Safety for the purpose of implementing the intent of this chapter.
(10) 
Each vehicle operated by the permittee shall be insured for a minimum $100,000/$300,000 bodily injury and $15,000 property damage automobile liability insurance; and the business shall be insured with general liability insurance by an insurance company duly authorized by the New York State Insurance Department to do business in the State of New York.
(11) 
The following shall accompany all applications for a tow truck permit:
(a) 
Department of Public Safety Inspection Report of Vehicle(s).
(b) 
Copies of insurance identification cards and policies indicating coverage and limits as required under this chapter.
(c) 
Proof of workers' compensation insurance; or workers' compensation insurance waiver if the applicant is a sole proprietor.
(d) 
Copies of New York State registrations for all vehicles, which shall be in the applicant's and/or business's name.
(e) 
A certificate of occupancy for the premises.
(f) 
A New York State motor vehicle repair shop certificate and number.
(g) 
A New York State sales tax certificate of authority.
(h) 
A site inspection report from the Department of Public Safety Investigation Division.
(i) 
Day, evening and emergency telephone numbers.
(j) 
Copy of rental/lease agreement if premises not owned by applicant.
(k) 
Individual photographs (three of each principal, each two inches by two inches).
(l) 
Business certificate (UCC verification if required).
(m) 
Business seal and notarized statements of acceptance and compliance.
C. 
All applications and documentation shall be submitted to the Department of Public Safety by December 30 of each year preceding the year for which the applicant seeks a permit. Upon receipt of any such application and documentation, the Department of Public Safety shall review same and shall verify the truth and accuracy of said application and documentation. The Department of Public Safety, in order to establish the truth or accuracy of the information contained in the application, may request any information pertinent to the processing of said application and may, as necessary, request any additional information during the application process and for the entire term of said permit. If the Department of Public Safety cannot confirm the truth or accuracy of said material contained in the application; or if it determines that a material misrepresentation is contained therein; or if the applicant shall have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony which is determined to render the applicant unfit to carry on the aforesaid operation; provided, however, that proper consideration is given to New York State Correction Law §§ 701 through 703-b and §§ 751 through 753 in making any such determination; or if it determines the applicant to be unfit or incapable of properly conducting the aforesaid operation, it shall issue a report to the Town Clerk, who shall deny said application. The Town Clerk shall notify the applicant within 30 days after receipt of a completed application as to whether the application shall be approved or denied. If the application is denied and the applicant has been operating within the Town prior to the denial, then the applicant shall discontinue all operations within the Town of Smithtown within 30 days of such notification. An applicant who is denied a permit hereunder may request a review by the Town Board, which shall, upon such request, review the basis for such denial and shall determine whether such denial shall be affirmed or reversed.
[Amended 2-26-2009]
D. 
Prior to receiving any permit issued pursuant to the provisions of this chapter, the recipient of said permit shall sign a sworn statement that said permittee has:
(1) 
Read all terms, conditions, requirements and provisions of this chapter;
(2) 
Understands the terms, conditions, requirements and provisions of this chapter;
(3) 
Agrees to abide by all terms, conditions, requirements and provisions set forth in this chapter; and
(4) 
Understands and agrees that any violation of any term, condition, requirement or provision of this chapter may result in an immediate suspension of all permits issued under this chapter to the permittee, until such time as a permit revocation hearing can be held and determination is made thereon.

§ 281-6 Permit fee.

A. 
No permit shall be issued unless a permit fee of $50 per vehicle listed on the application is paid to the Town Clerk.
B. 
If the applicant wishes to be placed upon the duty rotation list at the Fourth Precinct, he/she shall pay an additional fee of $150 to the Town Clerk.

§ 281-7 Identification on trucks.

Each vehicle for which a permit has been issued shall have a medallion securely affixed to or printed on its driver's side and shall have legibly inscribed permanently on its side and printed in letters not less than three inches high the name and business address of the permittee and the permit number assigned to the vehicle.

§ 281-8 Expiration of permits.

Every permit issued pursuant to this chapter shall expire on the first day of February following the issuance thereof.

§ 281-9 Soliciting work prohibited.

It shall be unlawful for any vehicle for which a permit has been issued to be operated on any public or private street or highway within the Town of Smithtown for the purpose of soliciting towing and/or repair work at the scene of any motor vehicle accident or breakdown on private property or on a public or private street or highway.

§ 281-10 Towing lists.

[Amended 6-10-2008]
A list of all persons, firms and corporations operating vehicles for which permits have been issued shall be provided to the Fourth Precinct of the Suffolk County Police Department by the Department of Public Safety for the purpose of allowing the equitable distribution of all towing operations, including responses to accidents and mechanical breakdowns causing the obstruction of traffic.

§ 281-11 Approved lists of responding vehicles.

A. 
Any permittee that meets the requirements set forth in § 281-12 shall be placed upon an approved list of responding vehicles at the Fourth Precinct of the Suffolk County Police Department. That permittee may be called upon to remove disabled motor vehicles from public highways within the Town of Smithtown, called the "accident roster." At the permittee's option, he/she may be placed on the non-accident roster at the Suffolk County Police Department. From such list the permittee may be called to remove motor vehicles, which are obstructing traffic as a result of mechanical breakdowns, from the public highways within the Town of Smithtown. The applicant may notify the Fourth Precinct that he/she does not wish to be placed on one or more of the various rosters.
B. 
Any permittee that has been placed on the accident and/or non-accident roster and that operates one or more vehicles with a lifting and towing capacity in excess of four tons shall be placed on an additional approved list of responding vehicles at the Fourth Precinct of the Suffolk County Police Department. That permittee may be called to remove vehicles from the public highways within the Town of Smithtown which are involved in accidents and/or mechanical breakdowns and which the police officer at the scene has determined to require heavy towing equipment, which list shall hereinafter be referred to as the "heavy-duty roster."
C. 
Any permittee that has been placed on the accident, nonaccident or heavy-duty roster and that operates a vehicle capable of a flatbed tow shall be placed on an additional approved list of responding vehicles at the Fourth Precinct of the Suffolk County Police Department. That permittee may be called to remove vehicles from the public highways within the Town of Smithtown which are involved in accidents and/or mechanical breakdowns and which the police officer at the scene has determined to require a vehicle capable of flatbed towing, which list shall hereinafter be referred to as the "flatbed roster."
[Added 4-10-2001]

§ 281-12 Requirements for approved list placement.

No permittee shall be placed upon an approved list of responding vehicles by the Fourth Precinct unless the following requirements are met:
A. 
The permittee shall maintain a twenty-four-hour towing service to respond to emergency calls.
B. 
Each vehicle operated by the permittee shall be equipped with a crowbar, a shovel, emergency flashing red lights affixed to said tow truck, a working broom, a hacksaw, an axe, a CO2 foam fire extinguisher, a carton containing at least one dozen red railroad-type flares, dual rear wheels or four-wheel drive, a push bar, a tow bar, a lifting boom, a power-operated winch with a four-ton minimum lifting capacity, dolly wheels or flatbed carrier, flashing hazard lights (a minimum of two red facing the rear of the truck and a minimum of two amber facing the front of the truck), an emergency first-aid kit, safety chains, a minimum of 100 feet of three-eighths-inch steel cable and jumper cables.
C. 
Each vehicle operated by the permittee shall be insured for a minimum $100,000/$300,000 bodily injury and $15,000 property damage automobile liability insurance; and the business shall be insured with general liability insurance by an insurance company duly authorized by the New York State Insurance Department to do business in the State of New York.
[Amended 6-10-2008]
D. 
Rates and charges.
(1) 
The permittee shall agree to charge not more than the following maximum rates for towing, regardless of the distance, within the Town of Smithtown when called by the Suffolk County Police Department, Fourth Precinct.
[Amended 2-12-2002; 3-26-2002; 4-4-2006; 12-14-2010]
(a) 
Passenger cars.
[1] 
For all passenger cars, regardless of weight, and all other motor vehicles with a weight of not more than two tons: $100 per tow at all times.
[2] 
For all dolly tows: $60 in addition to the normal charge.
[3] 
For all flatbed tows: $160 only when a vehicle is incapable of being towed by a conventional tow truck and the police officer at the scene deems the necessity of a flatbed tow.
[4] 
For winching: A flat fee of $45.
(b) 
Other.
[1] 
For trucks, buses and all other motor vehicles with a weight of two tons or more: $225 per tow, heavy-duty.
[2] 
A reasonable extra charge may be made of $75 per half hour for labor and services to right an overturned truck or automobile or motor vehicle or to remove from the highway any motor vehicle incapable of being towed, at any time of the day or night.
(c) 
For storage: $20 per day or any part thereof and $25 per day after seven days.
(d) 
The charging of yard fees is prohibited.
(2) 
The permittee shall not solicit or receive any consideration, commission or other endorsement from any source, other than the above charges, for the delivery of any vehicle to any location and/or body shop, repair shop or specialty garage. The charging of a fee to clean up an accident scene is prohibited.
E. 
The permittee shall maintain on its premises a six-foot-high fenced containment area of not less than 2,500 square feet with a locked gate for the storage of disabled, damaged or wrecked vehicles removed from public property under the provisions of this chapter. This containment area shall be used by one permittee only, and there shall be only one containment area per site.
F. 
The permittee shall agree to respond to all emergency calls of the Fourth Precinct Desk Officer, Suffolk County Police Department, regardless of the hour of the day or the distance to the scene of the call, provided that its equipment is not otherwise employed or deployed and provided that the designated point is within the Town of Smithtown.
G. 
Any person removing a wrecked or damaged vehicle from a highway shall remove any glass or other injurious substance dropped upon the highway from such vehicle pursuant to the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1219(c).
H. 
No permittee shall refuse or fail to remove a wrecked, damaged or disabled vehicle from a road, street or highway after having agreed to respond to an emergency call for the purpose of removing said vehicle.
[Added 3-11-1997]

§ 281-13 Rotation of duty operators.

A. 
The Precinct Commander of the Fourth Precinct, Suffolk County Police Department, shall cause to be placed upon each roster, by name, principal, location and telephone number, each permittee that has complied with the requirements set forth in § 281-12.
B. 
Permittees shall be placed on each roster in the order in which they are approved, and each permittee shall be entered only once regardless of how many vehicles for which it holds permits or how many locations it operates from.
C. 
The Precinct Commander of the Fourth Precinct, Suffolk County Police Department, shall require that a copy of each roster be on file at the communication desk at the Fourth Precinct.
D. 
The Suffolk County Police Department is hereby authorized to designate one permittee at a time from each roster on a call-to-call basis in the order in which they appear on the roster to receive emergency calls from the Fourth Precinct, and each such permittee in turn shall be known as the "duty operator."
E. 
Should more than one tow truck be deemed necessary by the police officer in charge at the scene, the duty operators shall be sent to the scene in rotation and shall have their choice of vehicles according to that rotation. The first to arrive, however, shall assist the police officer or officers in clearing vehicles and debris from the public highway, regardless of their place in the rotation.
F. 
In any case where a duty operator has not arrived at the scene within 30 minutes from the dispatch time, to be recorded by the Fourth Precinct of the Suffolk County Police Department, or has arrived with equipment not adequate to perform the requested services, he shall lose his turn in the rotation and shall not be entitled to receive any compensation for responding.

§ 281-14 Requests for other towers.

Any owner or operator of a vehicle involved in an accident or a mechanical breakdown causing obstruction of traffic may request a permittee other than the duty operator, provided that the permittee is on one or more rosters and the request is made to the police officer in charge at the scene before an emergency call is made.

§ 281-15 Requests for alternate destinations.

Any owner or operator of a vehicle involved in an accident or a mechanical breakdown causing obstruction of traffic may request the duty operator to remove the vehicle to a body and fender shop, gasoline service station with facilities for auto repairs or specialized automobile repair facility or private residence located in the Town of Smithtown other than the duty operator's premises, provided that the request is made, in writing, on an approved form which shall be supplied by the duty operator.

§ 281-16 Written records.

A. 
Each permittee on a roster must maintain a written record of all tow and service calls within the Town of Smithtown. These records will include the name and address of the vehicle owner, the time and date of the call, the location of the disablement, the location of the destination of the tow and the amount charged.
B. 
These written records will be made available to any investigating authority for a period of six months from this date.

§ 281-17 Removal from approved lists.

[Amended 9-7-1993]
The Town of Smithtown may request that the Suffolk County Police Department, Fourth Precinct, remove from one or more rosters any permittee whom the Department of Public Safety Investigation Division has determined, after investigation, has failed to abide by any one or more of the requirements set forth in this chapter.

§ 281-18 Suspension or revocation of permits; other penalties.

A. 
Permits issued under the provisions of this chapter may be suspended or revoked by the Town Board of the Town of Smithtown after notice and hearing for any violation of the provisions of this chapter.
B. 
Notice of the hearing for revocation of a permit shall be given in writing, setting forth specifically the grounds of the complaint and the time and place of said hearing. Such notice shall be mailed, postage prepaid, to the permittee at his last known address at least 10 days prior to the date set for hearing. Said hearing shall be conducted in a manner wherein the accused permittee is afforded due process of law.
C. 
At the conclusion of said hearing and as a result of the evidence adduced therein, the Town Board may, in its discretion, revoke said permit or, in lieu thereof, suspend the subject permit for a specified period of time and/or censure the permittee and/or impose a fine not to exceed $5,000.

§ 281-19 Hearing procedure.

A. 
The Town Clerk shall publish notice of the time and place of any hearing provided for herein, which shall be previously set by the Town Board. The notice shall contain the subject matter of the hearing and the date, place and hour designated therefor. In addition, if the hearing is for revocation or suspension of a permit, the Town Clerk shall mail a copy of said notice to the permittee concerned at the business address shown upon the most recent application of such permit, not less than 10 days nor more than 20 days from the date fixed for the public hearing.
B. 
The notice required herein shall be published at least once in a newspaper of general circulation in the Town of Smithtown, no less than 10 days nor more than 20 days from the fixed date.
C. 
Upon any hearing for the suspension or revocation of a permit, the permittee involved shall be entitled to be represented by legal counsel and to present such testimony or other evidence in his own behalf as may be relevant to the subject matter of the hearing.

§ 281-20 Penalties for offenses.

Any person, firm, association or corporation violating any of the above-mentioned provisions of any ordinances of the Town of Smithtown shall be guilty of an offense punishable by a fine or imprisonment, or both. However, for the purpose of conferring jurisdiction upon the courts, such violations shall be deemed misdemeanors. Equipment violations shall be subject to a mandatory sum of $50 and any subsequent equipment violation not to exceed $200. Notwithstanding the foregoing, any person, firm, association or corporation violating any other provision of this chapter shall be subject to a penalty in a sum not exceeding $2,500 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 15 days; and a separate offense shall be deemed committed on each day during or on which a violation occurs or continues. A conviction under this chapter is a violation of the law. In addition to such fine, the defendant shall pay all costs and expenses incurred by the Town in determining such violation. The foregoing shall be in addition to all remedies available under the law to the Town of Smithtown.

§ 281-21 When effective.

This chapter shall take effect immediately upon its adoption and publication in accordance with the provisions of the Town Law.