[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Township of Florence 5-1-2002 by Ord. No. 2002-12. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 130, Towing and Storage of Motor Vehicles, adopted 11-28-2001 by Ord. No. 2001-27.
The purposes of this chapter are:
To establish a requirement and procedure for the licensing of individuals and entities providing towing and storage services to the Florence Township Police Department.
To establish, in the interest of public safety, a uniform policy for the towing and storage of motor vehicles towed and stored at the request of the Florence Township Police Department; and
To establish uniform fees for towing and storage services.
This chapter shall apply to all motor vehicle towing and storage operations performed at the request of the Florence Township Police Department.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- A private passenger motor vehicle, station wagon or sport-utility-type vehicle that is owned or hired, and is neither used as a public livery conveyance for passengers nor rented to others with a driver; and a motor vehicle with a pickup body, or delivery sedan, a van, or a panel truck or camper-type vehicle used for recreational purposes owned by an individual, not customarily used in the occupation, profession or business of the owner(s); and solely for the purposes of this chapter, a motorcycle.
- 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. Basic towing service does not include recovery of vehicles from a position outside the right-of-way or berm, or recovery from resting, impaled upon, adhered or otherwise attached to, any other object within the right-of-way or berm.
- HEAVY DUTY
- Used to tow and recover commercial-type vehicles over 26,000
pounds GVW, as well as passenger vehicles unable to be recovered by
other means.[Added 12-17-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-25]
- New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Day, President's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
- LIGHT DUTY
- Used to tow and recover small light-duty vehicles up to 10,000
pounds.[Added 12-17-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-25]
- MEDIUM DUTY
- Used to tow and recover small commercial-type vehicles up
to 26,000 pounds GVW (gross vehicle weight) or passenger vehicles
unable to be recovered with a light-duty tow truck or flatbed.[Added 12-17-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-25]
- MOTOR VEHICLE
- Includes all vehicles propelled otherwise than by muscular power, except such vehicles as run only upon rails or tracks, or motorized bicycles.
- When the tow operator applies his knowledge in a skillful
manner to preserve the condition of the motor vehicle while winching
and/or lifting the damaged vehicle back to a normal towing or loading
position.[Added 12-17-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-25]
- The Township of Florence.
- 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 VEHICLES 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 and trailers, 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 charge or fee is extracted. All vehicles to be used pursuant to this chapter shall be adequately designed and maintained by the tow operator to transport this disabled vehicle safely and without damage.
- VEHICLE ACCESS FEE
- Insurance representative or any interested person (excluding
vehicle owner or family member trying to retrieve personal belongings)
must be accompanied into the secured storage yard facility to inspect,
adjust or take photographs of a vehicle or when the tow operator removes
a vehicle out of the indoor/outdoor storage area so that it may be
towed by another towing company. Documentation such as business card
or driver's license must be photocopied and time-stamped when this
additional auxiliary service is performed.[Added 12-17-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-25]
- Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
- A Saturday or a Sunday.
- WEEKNIGHT or NIGHT
- Monday through Friday between the hours of 4:30 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.
- The process of moving a motor vehicle by use of additional
chains, nylon slings and additional lengths of winch cable for a position
that is not accessible for direct hook-up by conventional means for
towing and/or loading onto a tow vehicle. Winching is not pulling
a vehicle onto a flatbed carrier or lifting a motor vehicle by conventional
means (tow sling, wheel lift, etc.).[Added 12-17-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-25]
No person shall engage in the business of towing or storing motor vehicles at the direction of the Florence Township Police Department without first obtaining a tow operator's license therefor. Nothing herein shall require licensing for the rendering of road service or for the provision of towing and storage services within the Township other than at the request of the Township Police Department.
Applicants for a license under this chapter shall file with the Township Clerk a sworn application on a form to be furnished by the Clerk, which shall include the following information and certification:
The full name and address of the applicant. If the application is made for a corporation, it shall state the names and addresses of the officers and directors thereof, its registered agent, and the names and residential addresses of every stockholder owning more than ten percent of the issued stock.
The year, make and type of each tow vehicle used in said business, its serial number, registration number and registered owner.
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 name, address, and telephone number of an emergency contact for the applicant. In addition, the operator shall maintain, available for inspection by the Township, a list of active drivers containing their names, addresses, New Jersey Driver's License number and Commercial Driver's License number (if applicable).
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 as either "inside secured storage," "outside secured storage," or "mixed inside and outside secured storage." These terms are defined as follows:
Inside secured storage: 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 sturdy locking device, and is locked and secure except when open for transport of vehicles in the presence of the tow vehicle operator, suitable for twenty-four-hour, seven-day-per-week storage.
Outside secured storage: A vehicle storage facility that is not indoors and is secured by a fence, walls or other manmade barrier that is at least six feet high, having one or more gates or openings that is secured by a sturdy locking device, and is locked and secure except when open for the transport of vehicles in the presence of the tow vehicle operator, suitable for twenty-four-hour, seven-day-per-week storage. The facility is to be lighted at night so that all vehicles may be plainly visible.
Mixed inside and outside secured storage: A vehicle storage facility having both inside secured storage and outside secured storage as herein defined.
The name and address of the insurance carriers, and the policy numbers of all insurance policies as required by § 130-9 of this chapter.
A copy of the operator's current fee schedule for towing and storage services, separately listing towing and storage fees for automobiles and other motor vehicles.
A certification that on-call towing and storage services will be available 24 hours per day, every day of the year.
A certification that the fees and procedures required by this chapter will be paid and followed at all times.
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 or licensee for the purpose of determining compliance with this chapter.
A certification that neither the applicant nor any tow vehicle operator shall have any criminal convictions for crimes involving fraud, dishonesty, or moral turpitude, or prior motor vehicle infractions related to the towing, licensing, repairing, registration, or titling of motor vehicles or motor vehicle towing operations which might adversely affect public safety or welfare.
An agreement to abide by and accept the terms and conditions of this chapter and the rules and policies adopted pursuant to this chapter.
Satisfactory proof that any and all applicable business and or trade licenses have been obtained.
A statement of hours during which the facility is open and available for the retrieval of vehicles or the transaction of business by members of the public. The hours of business shall be not less than six hours per day weekdays and at least four hours on Saturday.
Such other information as the Township Administrator or Chief of Police may reasonably prescribe.
All applications for tow operator's licenses shall be accompanied by a fee of $100 to cover the Township's costs in processing the application. The fee of $100 shall be a yearly fee which is due to the Township of Florence. All fees are nonrefundable whether or not the license is denied or revoked for any reason.
The Township Clerk shall forward all complete applications to the Chief of Police, who 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 performance standards:
The applicant has the ability to respond to the scene in response to a request for basic towing service within 15 minutes after notification.
The applicant can provide on-call towing services 24 hours per day, every day of the year.
The tow trucks and equipment are in safe and sound condition and in compliance with all applicable laws, rules and regulations, capable of transporting disabled vehicles safely and without damage. All applicants must meet minimum standards of operator performance, including but not limited to standards concerning the adequacy of the applicant's equipment and storage facilities and availability.
The applicant owns or has a valid lease to a storage facility within five miles of the Township, in an area legally zoned for such use, and such storage facility shall have a minimum of 10 spaces for passenger automobiles and will be either an inside secured storage, outside secured storage, or mixed inside and outside secured storage facility as defined in § 130-4A(4) above for storage of all vehicles towed or impounded.
The tow operator shall prominently display his license as set forth in § 130-C.
The applicant is in compliance with and/or has the ability to comply with all other requirements and standards set forth herein.
In addition to the minimum standards of performance referred to in the preceding paragraph, all applicants are subject to disqualification if found deficient in any one of the following areas:
Provided false or inaccurate information on the application form.
Lacks experience and/or does not have good references from prior customers of the applicant's towing and storage services.
Fails to maintain the facilities, information, or status, to qualify as a tow operator as set forth in § 130-4 for licensing.
The Chief of Police shall make his recommendation on the application to the Township Clerk within 60 days of receipt by him. The Township Clerk shall make the final decision regarding all new and/or renewal applications for towing. If the application is disapproved, the reasons therefor shall be set forth in writing. The Township Clerk shall notify the applicant in writing that the application has been granted or denied. If the application is denied, the reasons for such denial shall be set forth in the notice, along with the applicant's right to appeal the denial to Township Council pursuant to § 130-8.
A tow operator's license shall be issued by the Township Clerk to an approved applicant upon provision of insurance certification pursuant to § 130-9. The Township Clerk shall send a copy of the license to the Police Department for filing and shall keep a permanent record of all licenses issued.
All licenses issued under this chapter shall expire at the end of the calendar year in which issued. Applications for renewal, certifying any changes to the original application or certifying no change, shall be filed with the Clerk at least 30 days before expiration, on forms provided by the Clerk. Renewal applications will be forwarded to the Chief of Police for review and any necessary investigation in accordance with the procedures and standards set forth in § 130-5. Results of the Chief of Police's investigation shall be forwarded to the Township Clerk for the Clerk's consideration when reviewing an application. If approved, a renewal license shall be issued upon payment of the license fee and provision of required insurance certifications.
All licenses issued under this chapter, or certified copies thereof, shall be displayed prominently on all tow vehicles and at the tow operator's principal place of business.
All licenses issued under this chapter are nontransferable.
Licenses issued under this chapter may be suspended or revoked by the Township Clerk after reasonable notice and opportunity for a hearing pursuant to § 130-8 for any of the following reasons:
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.
Failure to comply with any of the requirements of this chapter, any additional regulations promulgated by the Township Council, or any state, federal or local law relating to motor vehicle operation or storage.
Unsatisfactory service which jeopardizes public safety. By way of example and not of limitation, 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 prima facia grounds for suspension and/or revocation.
Response to a tow situation without being called pursuant to the rules established by and under this chapter unless a direct call is made to the tow operator by the vehicle owner or operator. In lieu of revocation, the Clerk may drop the offending operator to the bottom of the on-call list for a first offense under this provision.
Notice of suspension and/or revocation shall be in writing and shall include the reasons therefor and notice of the licensee's right to appeal to Township Council pursuant to § 130-8.
License fees shall in all cases be nonrefundable regardless of revocation or suspension of the license.
Any person aggrieved by the action of the Township Clerk in the denial of an application for a license, or in revocation thereof, or in the suspension from the Township's on-call towing list, may appeal to the Township Council by filing with 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 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 Council's determination shall be made by resolution and shall become effective immediately, unless otherwise set forth in writing in the resolution.
The Council may, for good cause shown and in its sole discretion, stay a suspension or revocation by the Clerk pending the holding of a hearing pursuant to this section.
Every licensee shall carry insurance as follows:
Comprehensive automobile liability in an amount not less than $1,000,000 combined single limits;
Worker's compensation coverage as required by state law;
Garage keeper's liability in an amount not less than $60,000 per location;
Garage liability in an amount not less than $1,000,000 combined single limits;
Comprehensive general liability coverage in an amount not less than $1,000,000 for each person and $3,000,000 for each accident;
Endorsements providing for collision coverage for vehicles in tow;
Endorsement naming the Township as an additional insured in all insurance policies (except workers' compensation policies) for licensees on the Township's on-call towing list.
All licensees shall hold harmless and indemnify the Township, 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 Township shall be named as an additional insured on the tow operators liability policies as set forth in § 130-9A above.
All insurance policies shall be written by insurance companies acceptable to the Township and authorized to do business in the State of New Jersey with a best rating of not less than AAA.
No license shall be issued or renewed until the applicant has filed with the Township Clerk certificates of insurance evidencing the insurance coverage and endorsements required in § 130-9A. All certificates must provide for 30 days' prior written notice to the Township of policy cancellation or material change.
The Chief of Police shall maintain a list of those tow operators licensed by the Township to respond to calls from the Township Police Department. In order to be included on the on-call towing list, an applicant must meet all of the requirements of this chapter and shall enter into an agreement with the Township for a term of one year, said agreement to be prepared by the Township Attorney.
Calls to tow operators on the on-call list shall be made on a nondiscriminatory rotating basis, pursuant to procedures established by the Chief of Police. Nothing herein shall prohibit the Chief of Police or his designee from calling a tow operator out of sequence or seeking the services of a tow operator not on the on-call list if the circumstances require specialized equipment or if the interests of public safety so require. If the tow operator selected does not respond to the scene within the 15 minutes after notification, the Chief of Police or his designee shall be permitted to summon the next available tow operator. When any unusual situation occurs which may be dangerous to the safety of the public, such as a spill of toxic material or other dangerous cargo, the Township Police Department may select any qualified tow operator.
The fees to be charged for the towing and storage services of automobiles shall be as set forth in § 130-11. The Township shall not be liable for the cost of any towing and/or storage services unless those services are performed on a municipal vehicle. This means, by way of example and not limitation, if a tow operator is called to provide a service and the owner is able to get his/her vehicle started and operating in the interim, then neither the Township nor the owner shall be responsible for the tow operator's costs. Further, the tow operator will not lose his position on the towing list.
Inclusion on the on-call towing list shall be automatically revoked upon expiration or revocation of the tow operator's license. The Township Council may also suspend a licensed tow operator's inclusion on the on-call towing list for such period of time as they consider appropriate for violations of this chapter, after a hearing on such violations. Suspensions may be appealed pursuant to the procedures set forth in § 130-8.
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 Township 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.
All vehicles towed at the request of the Township Police Department must be removed to an approved storage facility unless the owner or operator of the vehicle specifically requests that it be towed to another destination. Any Township police officer at the scene shall be responsible for making the final determination as to the towing destination.
Vehicles that are being towed and held by the Florence Township Police Department shall not be released until the owner or his/her agent provides a release form from the Police Department.
All vehicles towed at the request of the Township Police Department must be stored together at the approved storage facility and not scattered throughout the premises.
No tow operator shall dispose of, destroy, remove, sell or otherwise transfer any vehicle towed at the request of the Township Police Department without first complying with all applicable laws of the State of New Jersey and notifying the Township Police Department of its intention to do so in writing at least 14 days prior to effectuating same.
Upon request by the Township Police Department, the tow operator shall store a motor vehicle in an inside building as defined in § 130-4A(4). Vehicles designated by the police as being suspected as being used in criminal activity shall be stored in a separate space for the exclusive use of the Police Department, and shall not be released without the written permission of the Chief of Police, Acting Chief of Police or his designee.
In addition to any requirements set forth elsewhere in this chapter, all approved towing services must provide in writing an employment nondiscrimination statement prior to the issuance of said approval, and must agree to comply with all state and federal laws and regulations concerning wages, hours and terms of employment.
Employees of an approved towing service shall in no way be deemed to represent or be employed by this municipality, and all such towing services shall be responsible for the conduct of their employees.
All towing and storage fees shall be disclosed in an appropriate notice on the front or top page of all invoices and receipts. Additionally, adequate public posting of such fees must be made at the storage area, in easy view of the public.
Tow operators shall advise members of the public with complaints regarding their services rendered pursuant to this chapter or their right to file a complaint with the Township Clerk. The Township Clerk shall evaluate all such written complaints in determining whether action is required under § 130-7. Tow operators shall maintain a detailed list of all complaints received for inspection by the Township which shall include, at least, the name and address of the complaining party; the date, time, and place of the tow; the nature of the complaint, and the disposition of the complaint.
[Amended 2-1-2006 by Ord. No. 2006-4; 12-17-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-25]
No person shall be liable to any tow operator who tows or stores an automobile, including but not limited to any automobile that was damaged in an accident or recovered after being reported stolen, for any fees in excess of the following.
All weights shall be based upon the manufacturer's stated gross vehicle weight.
Day rates shall apply between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The night/weekend/holiday rate shall apply from 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 a.m., Monday through Friday, and for the entire twenty-four-hour day on weekends and holidays. All rates shall be based upon the time of the call to the tow operator.
Storage fees are for each twenty-four-hour day or portion thereof. A new day commences at 12:01 a.m.
Basic towing service fees are maximum rates for up to one hour of service at the scene, and include mileage for the first five miles of tow. Each additional mile shall be at the rate of $2 per mile or portion of a mile.
The tow operator shall submit annually, as part of its application or renewal thereof, its fee schedule for the towing and storage of automobiles, which shall be subject to the review and approval of the Township Council Clerk.
If a tow operator impounds a vehicle from a public street, right-of-way or other location at the direct request of the Florence Township Police Department, the basic fee for towing and storage shall be as noted above.
For all motor vehicles other than those set forth above, the tow operator shall set reasonable and customary fees for the Burlington County area for the towing and storage of such vehicles. The tow operator shall submit annually, as part of its application or renewal thereof, its fee schedule for the towing and storage of all motor vehicles other than automobiles, which shall be subject to the review and approval of the Township Clerk.
A current fee schedule shall be submitted for approval on an annual basis at the time of application for license renewal.
When basic towing services are rendered for any automobile, there shall be no additional charges other than those provided for in Subsection B above, including but not limited to flatbedding, waiting time, winching, cleanup costs and additional labor.
Tow vehicles transporting multiple vehicles at one time may charge the applicable fee for each vehicle transported.
`Prior to hookup or flatbedding of a motor vehicle, the tow operator shall present a copy of its fee schedule to the owner or operator of the vehicle. The fee schedule shall also contain the name, address and telephone number of the tow operator and a statement of the hours when and location where the motor vehicle may be claimed.
The Township Council 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 licensed 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 license.
The Chief of Police is hereby designated to enforce the provisions of this chapter and any applicable rules and regulations.