[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Hanover 5-12-2005 by Ord. No. 17-2005. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Autowreckers — See Ch. 90.
Land use and development — See Ch. 166.
Property maintenance — See Ch. 218.
Abandoned vehicles — See Ch. 263.
Vehicles and traffic — See Ch. 267.
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 255, Towing and Road Service, adopted 10-24-1991 by Ord. No. 30-91.
For reference purposes, this chapter shall be known as the "Towing, Road Service and Storage of Vehicles Ordinance of the Township of Hanover."
The purpose and intent of this chapter is to provide criteria and standard operating procedures that are reasonably nonexclusionary and nondiscriminatory in the selection and use of towing operators, on a rotational basis, for providing towing, road services and the storage of vehicles, including but not limited to the towing of vehicles that are abandoned, disabled, illegally parked or stolen, vehicles involved in accidents and/or those vehicles suspected or identified by the Township as being involved in criminal activities.
As used in this chapter, the terms listed below shall be defined as follows:
- BASIC TOWING SERVICE
- The removal and transportation of a vehicle from a highway, street or other public or private road, parking area or storage facility. This chapter, and the definition herein, shall not include the recovery of a vehicle from a position beyond the public right-of-way or berm or from being impaled upon any other object outside of the public right-of-way or berm.
- DISABLED VEHICLE
- A vehicle which has been abandoned, impounded or rendered inoperable as a result of a mechanical failure, involvement in an accident or criminal activity. A vehicle, the location of which constitutes a hazard to the motoring public, shall be deemed "disabled" for the purposes of this chapter.
- The act of storing and confining a vehicle upon an order of the Police Department at either the towing operator's storage area or at a Township facility as a result of abandonment, involvement in an accident or suspected criminal activity.
- INSIDE BUILDING STORAGE FACILITY
- A vehicle storage facility that is completely indoors, having one or more openings or storage bins in the walls for the storage of vehicles and that is secured by a locking device on each bin or opening.
- OUTSIDE SECURED STORAGE FACILITY
- A vehicle storage facility that is not completely indoors and that is secured by a fence, wall or other man-made barrier that is at least six feet in height and is protected with on-site security or an alarm system. Outside storage facilities shall also maintain adequate lighting to protect stored vehicles from vandalism.
- OUTSIDE UNSECURED STORAGE FACILITY
- A vehicle storage facility that is not indoors and is not secured by a fence, wall or other man-made barrier, and all other storage facilities not defined above as inside a building or outside secured.
- A person, firm, corporation or partnership who owns and/or operates a vehicle on the roads and highways within the Township of Hanover, which vehicle, by reason of being disabled or abandoned on the roads and highways of the Township, requires towing and/or storage.
- TOWING OPERATOR
- A person, firm, corporation or partnership engaged in the business of providing towing, road and storage services for vehicles.
- TOWING/WRECKER VEHICLE
- A vehicle driven by mechanical power and employed for the purpose of towing, transporting, conveying or removing any and all kinds of vehicles or parts of vehicles which are unable to be operated under their own power. Such "towing vehicles" or "wreckers" means only those vehicles that are equipped with a boom or booms, winches, slings, tilt beds, wheel lifts or underreach equipment specifically designed by its manufacturer for the removal or transport of private passenger automobiles or other vehicles.
The Chief of Police and the Police Department are hereby designated to administer and enforce all provisions of this chapter.
It shall be the responsibility of the Chief of Police, or his/her designee, to approve all applications for towing operators to be utilized on a rotational basis for the purpose of providing emergency towing, road and storage services to the owners of motor vehicles utilizing Township roads when he/she determines that the following requirements have been met by the applicant. On forms prepared by the Township, and provided by the Chief of Police, or his/her designee, all towing operators shall submit written documentation that they are in compliance with the qualification requirements set forth below and those set forth by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.
Submission of certificate of insurance. All towing operators shall submit a certificate of insurance to the Chief of Police, which certificate shall name the Township as an additional insured. The certificate shall provide evidence that the towing operator carries the following insurance coverages:
Comprehensive general liability: in minimum limits of $500,000/$500,000 for bodily injury and $500,000/$500,000 for property damage.
Automobile liability: coverage in minimum limits of $500,000 per accidental occurrence and in the aggregate for bodily injury and property damage. This insurance must also include adequate coverage to protect the owners of private vehicles that are in the care, custody and control of the towing operator. Said coverages must provide at least $10,000 in minimum coverage for any damages or losses arising out of theft to vehicle contents, the vehicle itself or to losses due to fire or explosion.
Excess liability (umbrella form): a minimum of $500,000/$500,000 for bodily injury and property damage combined.
Workers' compensation: Coverage A, statutory; Coverage B, $100,000 for each accident, with a $500,000 policy limit, and $100,000 for each employee.
Indemnification. The towing operators agree that to the fullest extent permitted by law they shall defend, indemnify and hold harmless the Township from and against any and all claims, suits, judgments and demands whatsoever, including without limitation cost, litigation expenses, counsel fees and liabilities with respect to injury to or death of any person or persons whatsoever or damage to property of any kind by whomever owned arising out of or caused or claimed to have been caused, in whole or in part, by the negligent acts or omissions of the towing operators or any other person directly or indirectly employed by the towing operators while in the performance of rendering any services pursuant to the scope of this chapter.
As a safeguard to protect the personal safety of customers, all tow company owners and their employees who are engaged in towing shall be subjected to criminal background checks.
Any person, firm, corporation or partnership operating a towing and storage business shall endeavor to maintain a principal place of operation within the Township as a property taxpayer. In maintaining a principal place of operation within the Township, any person, firm, corporation or partnership operating a towing and storage business shall conform to a legally approved zoning and/or site plan and shall comply fully with all of the Township's Zoning, Land Use and Property Maintenance Codes. Failure to comply with the Township's Zoning, Land Use and Development Regulations, and Property Maintenance Codes may subject any operator to suspension from the rotational duty service list upon request to the Chief of Police from the Township's Construction Official/Zoning Officer and/or Property Maintenance Officer.
Nothing herein shall preclude a towing operator from storing his towing vehicles and equipment at another location outside the boundaries of the Township.
All towing operators shall have a storage facility which can accommodate a minimum of five medium-sized vehicles. The storage facilities shall be lighted, fenced and/or secured in order to guarantee the safe storage of all vehicles in accordance with the minimum requirements for indoor and outdoor secured and unsecured storage facilities as defined under § 255-3 above.
In addition to other equipment which is necessary for the safe performance of towing, emergency road and storage services, all towing operators must own and have available at least one conventional tow truck and/or one flatbed truck and/or one heavy-duty tow truck.
All towing operators' trucks must be equipped with either two-way radios and/or mobile telephone communications equipment with their principal places of business, including their garages and/or facilities, to ensure the proper availability of services and equipment on behalf of the Township and motorists.
All towing operators' trucks shall be equipped with brooms, shovels and any other street-sweeping equipment for the purpose of clearing debris off the roadways. The towing operator shall at the time of removing any motor vehicle in response to a police request remove from the public or private roads or highways any motor vehicle debris or material in the area surrounding the vehicle in accordance with N.J.S.A. 39:4-56.8, except for any debris or material which may be hazardous, such as oil, gasoline, kerosene or other petroleum or chemical products. The cleanup of debris, other than hazardous materials, shall be performed by the towing operator, without charge to the Township of Hanover or the vehicle owner.
The towing operator's wrecker(s) and all other vehicles shall be properly licensed and registered with the New Jersey Motor Vehicles Commission (NJMVC), in accordance with N.J.S.A. 39:3-84, including the proper display of a valid marker or license plate issued by the NJMVC.
All towing operators shall have facilities and equipment that will ensure and guarantee the furnishing of prompt and efficient services for all standard passenger automobiles.
The towing operator's company name, address and telephone number(s) shall be prominently and permanently displayed on both sides of all wreckers and other tow vehicles.
All towing operators selected to serve on a rotational basis must guarantee the availability of all services to the Police Department seven days a week, 24 hours a day. In this respect, a towing operator shall immediately respond to any type of towing, emergency road service or storage call with the appropriate vehicle and/or equipment within 20 minutes after receipt of telephone notification from the Police Department's dispatcher/desk officer. Unless heavy or unusual traffic conditions within the Township prevent a towing operator from arriving at the scene within 20 minutes, failure to respond within the time frame shall be considered a breach of this chapter. In the event that a towing operator fails to respond within 20 minutes from the time of the call, the Police Department reserves the right to contact the next available tow operator on the rotational list.
In times of emergencies and/or natural disasters, the Township of Hanover reserves the right to contact other towing service operators who may not be on the rotational list.
The owner of a vehicle in need of a tow shall have the right, if he/she so desires, to designate a towing operator of his/her choice, provided the vehicle is in a safe location and is not impeding the normal flow of traffic. The officer on scene shall make the determination as to scene safety. All such requests will be noted on the vehicle tow log by the Police Communications Desk operator.
Employees of the towing operator, in responding to a call, shall request and be afforded police assistance during the course of providing towing, emergency road service or removal of abandoned or accident vehicles, when such employees find it necessary to turn around, back up, tow in the opposite direction of traffic or cross the median.
A towing operator shall not permit a vehicle to be removed from the site of a vehicular accident, the scene of a crime or any other instance or situation without the prior approval and permission of a police officer and/or superior at the scene.
No towing company will allow the release of any impounded vehicle without first obtaining a completed copy of an approved release form provided by the Township of Hanover Police Department.
The rate schedule set forth below shall take effect on the date the notice of adoption for Ordinance No. 17-2005 is published in the Hanover Eagle and Regional Weekly News. If a new rate schedule is not adopted by the governing body on or before December 31, 2008, the rates for 2008 shall remain in full force and effect until the 2008 rate schedule is superceded and amended by ordinance. The fees described in the rate schedule for conventional and heavy-duty tows, storage, recovery/winching and road service are the maximum permitted charges that shall apply to the towing and/or storage of passenger automobiles or other vehicles. Tow operators transporting multiple passenger cars at one time shall receive the applicable fees for each vehicle transported. All the fees noted in the rate schedule shall be in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It shall be the responsibility of all towing operators to provide all motorists utilizing the towing operator's services with a written schedule of fees which lists in full all fees to be charged for towing, storage and road service within the Township of Hanover. Towing operators shall not exceed the maximum charges set forth on the fee schedule for towing and the storage of vehicles regulated under the provisions of this chapter.
The towing and storage fee schedules of all towing operators serving the Township on a rotational basis shall be filed with the Chief of Police and the Township Clerk/Administrator and shall be made available to any citizen upon request. The fee schedules shall be available at the Police Headquarters' Communications Desk, located at 1000 Route 10 in Whippany, seven days per week, 24 hours per day.
In addition, the Chief of Police and the Business Administrator/Township Clerk shall be informed, in writing, at least 10 business days prior to the amendment of any tow operator's towing and storage fee charges. Under no circumstances shall any amendments exceed the maximum amounts for towing and storage as described below.
In no instance shall the towing operator request payment from the Township of Hanover for any services rendered to the owners of private vehicles except, however, in those cases where the Police Department authorizes the removal of a Township-owned vehicle or a vehicle that is abandoned or related to criminal activity.
Following the approval of applications by the Chief of Police, it shall be his/her responsibility to establish a towing operators' rotational duty service list. The Police Department shall call the towing operators in sequential order as set forth by the Chief so that each towing operator will be given the opportunity to respond to individual calls as received by the Township. The Police Department shall have the right to call the next towing operator on the list should a towing operator fail to respond to a call within 20 minutes.
The Chief of Police is hereby authorized to establish reasonable rules and regulations for the supervision, inspection and safe operation of tow trucks, wreckers and other related vehicles and equipment in accordance with the standards outlined in this section. The Chief shall maintain due vigilance over all towing operators to make certain that the tow trucks and other related vehicles and equipment are maintained in a safe working condition for transporting and hauling disabled vehicles. The Chief or his/her duly designated representative shall have the right at all times to inspect all towing vehicles and related equipment which perform services pursuant to this chapter.
At any time, should the Chief or his/her designee determine that the vehicles and/or equipment being used are unsafe, he shall have the power and authority to direct the immediate correction or repair of any automotive defect, malfunction or violation of motor vehicle regulations within a specified period of time to be determined by the Chief. The Chief of Police is authorized and empowered to establish and transmit from time to time to all tow operators on the rotational list such additional rules and regulations not inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter as may be reasonable and necessary in carrying out the provisions of this chapter.
The Chief of Police shall have the power to suspend a towing operator from the rotational duty service list for a period of up to 30 calendar days for failure to comply with any section of this chapter. A subsequent violation may result in the permanent removal of a towing operator from the rotational duty service list for a twelve-month period. A towing operator may appeal the Chief's ruling of either a suspension or a permanent removal. In such cases, an appeal may be filed with the Township Clerk within 10 business days of the Chiefs decision. A hearing may be held by the Hanover Township Committee within 30 business days of the filing. The Hanover Township Committee shall render its determination within 20 business days following the conclusion of the hearing. The governing body's determination as rendered shall be final and conclusive under this chapter.
In addition, failure to comply with the Township's Zoning, Land Use and Property Maintenance Codes may subject any operator to suspension from the rotational duty service list upon request to the Chief of Police from the Township's Construction Official/Zoning Officer and/or Property Maintenance Officer. Any towing operator suspended from the rotational duty service list for any violation of the Township's Zoning, Land Use and Development and/or Property Maintenance Codes shall have the right to due process and appeal as set forth in Subsection A above.
Any person, firm or corporation who willfully violates any of the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be subject to a fine not exceeding $1,250 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 90 days, or both. Each and every violation of this chapter or each and every day that any violation occurs shall be construed as a separate and distinct violation hereof. The Police Department is specifically designated as the enforcement agency to serve and execute process for violation of this chapter.