[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Trenton 7-9-2009 by Ord. No. 09-32. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Traffic — See Ch. 14.
Public contracts — See Ch. 57.
Abandoned vehicles — See Ch. 292.
Unattended vehicles — See Ch. 305.
Purpose. The purpose of this chapter is to provide for motor vehicle towing and storage contracts with the City on a rotating basis, and to set terms and conditions of such contracts, in order to ensure that the City has a method of removing motor vehicles, while protecting the owners of said vehicle from unreasonable cost of loss.
Authority. The authority of the City to regulate motor vehicle towing and storage contracts is generally set forth in N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.49. The authority of the City to enter into motor vehicle and towing storage contracts on a rotating basis is set forth in N.J.S.A. 40A:11-5(u).
Scope. The provisions of this section apply to all persons who provide towing and storage charges for motor vehicles under contracts with the City.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ADDITIONAL LABOR
- Charges for additional and/or temporary employees enlisted by the tow vehicle operator to facilitate the unloading, relocation, and/or removal of vehicles, their cargos, debris, or other obstructions impeding traffic exceeding the labor required for a basic towing service as defined by the chapter.
- ADMINISTRATIVE CHARGES
- Charges for post-towing services including, but not limited to, services such as physical inspection, mechanical inspection, etc. These charges shall not be applied to vehicle owners or their agents, but to the City and only upon the specific request and authorization of the service by the designated Police Department supervisor.
- A private passenger automobile. (For purpose of this chapter, this definition shall include light pickup trucks, vans, and sport utility vehicles.)
- BASIC TOWING SERVICES
- The removal and transportation of a motor vehicle from a highway, street, other public or private road or parking area, or from a storage facility, and other services normally incidental thereto. "Basic towing services" 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 or berm, or from an overturned position.
- Any motor vehicle designated, constructed, and used for the transportation of passengers, except passenger automobiles and station wagons.
- City of Trenton.
- Police Director of the City of Trenton.
- A building where motor vehicles are sheltered, stored, repaired, and made ready for use, and it is specifically not intended to include, within the meaning of this definition, a gasoline service station used principally for furnishing gasoline, oil-lubrication service, and minor service for motor vehicles.
- INSIDE SECURED
- A motor vehicle storage facility that is completely indoors, having one or more openings in the walls for storage and removal of motor vehicles and is secured by a locking device on each opening. To qualify in the context of this chapter, the inside secured facility must have all governmental approvals and must have a capacity for a minimum of five automobiles.
- MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
- Any occurrence in which a motor vehicle comes in contact with another object for which the motor vehicle must be towed or removed for placement in a storage facility. This includes all situations that are accidental to the vehicle owner even if they are caused by the intentional acts of a perpetrator, where the perpetrator was not the vehicle owner or not otherwise involved with the owner.
- MOTOR VEHICLES
- Any vehicle propelled otherwise than by muscular power, except such vehicles as run only upon rails or tracks, and motorized bicycles under 49 cc.
- OUTSIDE SECURED
- A motor vehicle storage facility that is outdoors and is secured by a fence, wall, or other man-made barrier that is at least six feet high and is protected by security measures approved by the Director. These security measures should include motion sensors monitored on a twenty-four-hour basis, recording video cameras capable of monitoring the entire storage facility and lighting at night for the facility. To qualify as an outdoor-secured facility, in the context of this chapter, the outside-secure facility must have all necessary government approvals and must have capacity for a minimum of 700 automobiles.
- RECOVERY WINCHING
- Recovery winching includes, but is not limited to, the recovery of a motor vehicle that is overturned, over an embankment, off the roadway and not recoverable by basic winching, in water, impaled on an object, crashed into a building, or otherwise not accessible to immediate hook-up by conventional towing equipment.
- STORAGE CHARGES FOR TWENTY-FOUR-HOUR PERIOD
- The maximum allowable amount to be charged by a storage facility for a twenty-four-hour period or fraction thereof. A new twenty-four-hour period begins at 12:01 a.m. with the exception of the first twenty-four-hour period of storage, where only one day's storage can be charged for the first twenty-four-hour period of storage. Storage is charged on a per calendar day.
- TOW VEHICLE
- Those vehicles equipped with a boom or booms, winches, slings, flat beds, wheel lifts, or under-reach equipment specifically designed by its manufacturer for removal or transport of motor vehicles.
- TOW VEHICLE'S BASE OF SERVICE
- The towing operator's principal place of business, where the tow vehicles are stationed when not in use.
- Any motor vehicle designed and used primarily for the transportation of property.
- VEHICLE REMOVAL CHARGE (YARD FEE)
- Charge for a motor vehicle towed into a storage facility of the primary tower that is not movable and must be towed out of the primary tower's storage facility to a public street for towing by a secondary tower. In the context of this chapter, a motor vehicle that is not movable is defined as motor vehicle without keys, mechanically disabled, or unable to be moved under its own power.
- VEHICLES SUBJECT TO TOWING
- When used in this chapter to describe a motor vehicle, shall mean any motor vehicle that requires removal by a tow vehicle including, but not limited to, motor vehicles damaged in an accident, motor vehicles recovered after theft, abandoned motor vehicles, confiscated motor vehicles, and vehicles that require towing service by order of the Police Department due to being unregistered, uninsured, illegally parked, or whose operators are unable to safely operate the motor vehicle without being in violation of the law of any federal, state, or local statutes or ordinances.
- The process of moving a motor vehicle by use of a cable from a position that is not accessible for direct hookup by conventional means for loading onto a tow vehicle. Winching is not pulling a vehicle onto the bed of a carrier, nor lifting a motor vehicle with a conventional tow sling.
List. The Director shall maintain a list of all tow vehicle operators willing and able to enter into contracts to provide towing and storage services for the City, consistent with the terms of this chapter.
Application fee. The application fee for tow truck operators shall be $500 per year, which is the cost of administrating, investigating and processing the annual towing contract.
Written application. A tow vehicle operator submitting an initial application who seeks to be placed on the towing list and incumbent tow vehicle operators seeking renewal to remain on the towing list may pick up an application at the Trenton Police Department commencing July 1 of each year, for the upcoming calendar year. The initial and renewal application forms must be returned fully completed and with the application fee by September 15 of that year. The Director shall render a decision by December 15 as to the tow vehicle operators that will be included on the towing list for the upcoming calendar year.
Information required. Applicants must provide information required in the Trenton Police Department Towing Application and Agreement Form, the Trenton Police Department General Order pertaining to vehicle towing as issued by the Director, and any additional information deemed appropriate by the Director.
The Director shall review the application and conduct an investigation as he/she deems necessary, including a police background check, to determine whether the applicant meets the minimum standards and qualification as defined in the general requirements section of this chapter.
A tow vehicle operator must be able to respond to any request for assistance within 20 minutes, unless such response time is prevented by extraordinary conditions of weather or circumstances resulting in obstruction of general access to the scene.
A tow truck operator shall not remove any vehicle from a scene without proper authorization from the police officer in charge.
Any towing service beyond a basic towing service that will invoke the imposition of a specialized fee by the tow vehicle operator shall not be performed without the authorization of an on-scene police supervisor and documentation of the specialized service in the Trenton Police Department Vehicle Report.
The tow vehicle operator must be able to provide twenty-four-hour service seven days per week.
For light-duty towing, the tow vehicle operator must have at least one wheel-lift vehicle and one flatbed vehicle with a GVW of 10,000 pounds, in good operating condition, and must be equipped with the following:
A valid registration and, if required, a valid inspection sticker. (Dealer registration plates are not permitted.)
A valid amber light permit.
Valid State of New Jersey tow truck sticker and certification.
Speedy dry or similar liquid absorbent.
Broom, shovel, and debris container.
A minimum of two three-eighths-inch safety chains.
One fire extinguisher.
Proof of ownership or lease by the authorized tow vehicle operator.
For heavy-duty towing, the tow vehicle operator must have at least one heavy-duty tow vehicle that is hydraulic in nature, minimum of 25 tons, twin cable, with under-reach capability that would have the capability of towing an eighty-thousand-pound vehicle. The heavy-duty-towing vehicle must have a MGVW of 33,000 pounds or better, be in good operating condition, and must be equipped with the following:
Valid registration, valid annual federal inspection, and all other required permits.
Valid amber light permit.
Valid State of New Jersey tow truck sticker and certification.
Speedy dry or similar liquid absorbent.
Broom, shovel, and debris container.
A minimum of two one-half-inch safety chains.
One fire extinguisher.
Proof of ownership or lease by the authorized tow truck operator.
Connecting air lines to supply air to the towed vehicle.
Detachable light bar with running, stop, and turn lights.
In the event a recovery of a heavy-duty vehicle (rollover, accident, etc.) is warranted, the responding tow company shall assign a recovery supervisor, who must have received training in an industry-recognized training course.
The tow vehicle operator must agree to remove all glass and other debris from the tow-away area, to the satisfaction of the police officer in charge, without any additional charge to the vehicle owner. Any extensive cleanup leading to the imposition of a clean-up fee shall require the authorization of the on-scene police supervisor.
The tow vehicle operator agrees to tow, flatbed, and provide any basic service (tire change, battery charge, etc.) for the Trenton Police Department at no charge for police vehicles with a weight of 10,000 pounds or less.
The tow vehicle operator must have an inside secured storage facility with a five-vehicle capacity and an outside storage facility with a seven-hundred-vehicle capacity within a three-mile radius of Trenton Police Department Headquarters (225 North Clinton Avenue) within the State of New Jersey and County of Mercer. The storage facility must be reasonably accessible to persons seeking to retrieve their vehicles by use of public transportation. The tow vehicle operator must provide to the Director proof of ownership or lease of the storage facility.
No satellite lots are permitted. All vehicles stored under the agreement with the City must be stored at the tow vehicle operator's primary business location.
The tow vehicle operator must agree to provide adequate security to protect vehicles being towed and stored. The storage facility must be lighted during the hours of darkness so that the entire storage area is visible. The storage area must also be surrounded by a chain link, stockade, or other such restrictive fencing, which is at least six feet in height.
The tow vehicle operator must agree to keep accurate written and electronic records of towing and storage services as set forth in this chapter, the Trenton Police Department Towing Application and Agreement, and any such directive issued by the Director. These records are subject to inspection at any time by Trenton Police Department personnel. The electronic record-keeping system maintained by the tow vehicle operator should be compatible with the Trenton Police Department records management system and all records pertaining to vehicles towed under the authority of the Trenton Police Department are subject to inspection.
The tow vehicle operator must agree that inaccurate recordkeeping may result in termination of the towing contract.
The tow vehicle operator will not release a vehicle to an owner or the owner's representative without a signed release form issued by the Trenton Police Department. The tow vehicle operator must agree to issue an itemized receipt for all services rendered to the owner or owner's representative and provide a copy to the Trenton Police Department.
The tow vehicle operator must agree that no person shall be liable for towing or storage fees in excess of those permitted by the towing and storage fee schedule set forth in this chapter.
The tow vehicle operator must agree that the City, its agents, officers, and employees shall not be liable for any towing or storage charges, unless the motor vehicle towed or stored is owned by the City, or the motor vehicle is towed or stored for the convenience of the City and for police investigation, or the motor vehicle is towed because of snow or other emergency. The tow vehicle operator shall agree to seek payment of towing and storage fees only from the owner of the motor vehicle.
The tow vehicle operator must agree to defend and indemnify the City, its agents, officers, and employees from any liability or claim arising out of the tow vehicle operator's performance of the towing and storage service contract.
A tow vehicle operator unable to respond to a request for towing or requiring assistance for large scale towing/removal services shall request the approval of a police supervisor to notify the Trenton Communications Division to summon other authorized contracted City tow vehicle operators prior to contacting any other towing contractor.
The tow vehicle operator and his/her employees that operate towing vehicles must have no criminal convictions or motor vehicle infractions that would adversely affect the safety and welfare of the public and/or the owners of the vehicles towed pursuant to the contract for the City. Convictions for violent crimes and/or crime involving moral turpitude shall serve as an automatic disqualification in the application process or if incurred during the contract period.
The tow vehicle operator must be open for business, at a minimum, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The hours of operation must be prominently posted in a conspicuous place at the operator's place of business and delivered to the Director.
The entire fee schedule for towing and storage permitted under this chapter shall be prominently posted in a conspicuous place in the tow vehicle operator's place of business.
The tow vehicle operator shall provide the Director or his designee a list of all unclaimed vehicles towed during the prior month on or before the fifth day of the next month.
All towing vehicles must be equipped with communications equipment (cellular telephone, public service band frequency radio, etc.) to facilitate a prompt response.
All tow vehicle operators must be readily available for contact by the Police Department's Communications Division. Whenever the Communications Division is unable to readily contact the authorized tow vehicle operator on call, the next on-call tow vehicle operator shall be notified.
All tow vehicle operators must have a fax machine and computer with modem capable of sharing electronic information with the Trenton Police Department computer system.
Tow vehicle operators must have a certification from the Zoning Officer that the business location is permitted pursuant to that jurisdiction's ordinances.
The Director shall include the tow vehicle operator on the towing list after the Director determines that the tow vehicle operator meets the qualifications set forth in this chapter and in the Trenton Police Department's Towing Application and Agreement, and provided the application fee is paid. The list shall remain in effect for one year, beginning on January 1 of each year, and shall rotate on a monthly basis among authorized and contracted tow vehicle operators,
The placement of the tow vehicle operator on the towing list shall be nontransferable.
The Director may terminate any contract and a tow vehicle operator's eligibility to remain on the towing list if the Director determines that the tow vehicle operator willfully or persistently violated either the terms of this chapter, the Trenton Police Department Towing Application and Agreement, directives issued by the Police Director pertaining to towing, other laws concerning the towing and storage of vehicles, or based upon evidence that the tow vehicle operator engaged in deceptive or unlawful practices. Such tow vehicle operator shall remain ineligible for the period of time the Director deems appropriate.
The tow vehicle operator shall remain on the towing list for a one-year period commencing January 1 or until his/her eligibility is terminated by the Director as set forth in this chapter.
The tow vehicle operator must carry automobile liability insurance in an amount not less than $1,000,000 combined single limits.
The tow vehicle operator must carry workmen's compensation insurance as required by law.
The tow vehicle operator must carry a garage keeper's policy in the amount of $1,000,000 combined single limit. This policy must include on-hook coverage of at least $60,000.
The tow vehicle operator must carry complete protection to the City against any and all risks of loss or liability, including comprehensive general liability insurance in an amount not less that $1,000,000 combined single limit, naming the City as an additional insured.
Each policy required shall contain an endorsement providing that 10 days' notice shall be given to the Director in the event of cancellation for any cause.
Each policy required shall be with an insurance company licensed to do business in the State of New Jersey.
The Director shall enter into a written contract with eligible tow vehicle operators that have submitted a written application and application fee to enter into such contract with the City and have been determined to meet the minimum standards and requirements set forth in this chapter and the Trenton Police Department Towing Application and Agreement.
Each contract shall be for one year beginning on January 1 and shall rotate monthly between eligible tow vehicle operators.
Each contract shall contain the terms and conditions set forth in this chapter, the Trenton Police Department Towing Application and Agreement, and may contain any additional terms and conditions as the Director deems necessary to protect the City from liability and to protect the public from unreasonable charges/loss and to protect the public safety.
The tow vehicle operator must maintain the following records in written and electronic form for each vehicle towed and/or stored.
Day, month, year, and time of service.
The year, make, and model of vehicle.
The registration plate number and state of registration.
The full vehicle identification number (VIN).
The Trenton Police Department's report number for the incident involving the tow.
The location from which the vehicle was towed.
The place to which the vehicle is towed and stored.
The authority for the towing.
An accurate description of the visible damage to the vehicle prior to towing.
The distance of towing, if applicable.
The operator of the towing vehicle.
Any and all charges to the vehicle owner to include basic tow service, storage, and any additional fees for special services as defined in this chapter.
Special services. An on-scene Trenton Police Department supervisor shall authorize all special services located herein, and those services shall be documented on the Trenton Police Department vehicle report pertaining to that towed vehicle.
Extensive cleanup: $25.
Disposable materials used for cleanup (example: speedy dry): current market value.
Administrative charges (to only be charged to the City based upon authorization from designated police officer): $25.
Winching: $150 per hour.
Recovery winching: $300 per hour per vehicle.
Additional labor: $75 per hour/per employee/ to include additional equipment as required.
Towing fees during snow removal or other emergencies. When towing services are required during snow removal, for parades or special events or during flooding or other emergencies, the towing contractor shall be paid $125 per hour per vehicle in lieu of the fees set forth in the towing and storage schedule.
Only one day's storage shall be charged for the initial twenty-four-hour period the vehicle is in storage.
There shall be a cap on storage fees for privately owned vehicles equal to the cost of 90 days of storage for that vehicle. There shall be no cap on storage fees being paid for by corporations and/or insurance carriers. There shall be a cap of $400 for storage fees charged to the City for vehicles converted via clear titles or vehicles converted to bids via City auctions regardless of the duration of the storage, except that a waiver may be granted for good cause upon the request of the municipality by the Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs. Vehicles converted to the ownership of the tow vehicle operator via clear or junk title shall have the storage fees waived.
The tow vehicle operator agrees to reimburse the City $5 per vehicle for the clerical and administrative costs associated with authorizing the release of towed vehicles.
The tow vehicle operator agrees to provide the City Police Department with a partially completed copy of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission form titled Report of Possession of Abandoned Vehicle by Public Agency for any vehicle in its possession for which it is requesting a clear or junk title. This form shall contain the following information for each vehicle: the make, year, body type, vehicle identification number, model, weight class and present odometer reading for each vehicle. Failure to provide this information shall result in an administrative fee of $50 that shall be paid to the City Police Department by the tow operator for each application for the acquisition of a clear of junk title that is not accompanied by a partially completed form.
The Director shall develop a complaint-hearing procedure that will allow any citizen to file a complaint against a tow vehicle operator, alleging violations of this chapter, any revised ordinance of the City of Trenton, the Trenton Police Department Towing Application and Agreement. The Director shall designate personnel within the Police Department to investigate the complaint, or cause the complaint to be investigated, render a decision with regard to the complaint received of the tower's business practices, and take the required action to address the complaint. The Director shall be empowered to render a final decision, and that decision shall be binding on both the tower and the owner of the vehicle.
No reward, gratuity, gift, or any type of remuneration or consideration shall be offered to any member of the Trenton Police Department, any City Official, and/or any employee of the City of Trenton by any authorized tow vehicle operator or its representatives/affiliates, prior to or during the application process and/or during the life of the contract.