[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Hillsborough 9-9-1975 by Ord. No. 75-14; amended in its entirety 12-8-1992 by Ord. No. 92-26. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
Vehicles and traffic — See Ch. 143.
For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- A private passenger automobile of a private passenger or station wagon type that is owned or hired and is neither used as a public or 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 a camper-type vehicle used for recreational purposes owned by an individual or by husband or wife or residents of the same household, not customarily used in the occupation, profession or business of the owner.
- BASIC TOWING SERVICE
- The removal and transportation of a motor vehicle with a registered
weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less, or a motorcycle from a highway, street
or other public or private property.[Amended 9-12-2006 by Ord. No. 2006-26]
- DAY RATE
- When the time of the motor vehicle accident is between 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except New Jersey State holidays or, if not an accident, when the motor vehicle is transported (pickup to delivery) between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
- New Jersey Department of Insurance.
- EXTRAORDINARY TOWING SERVICE
- The removal and transportation of a motor vehicle with a registered
weight rating over 10,000 pounds from a highway, street or other public or
private property. Extraordinary towing service shall also include the recovery
of vehicles with a registered weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less that
require exceptional methods to retrieve and/or tow the vehicle. “Exceptional
methods” are tasks outside the routine scope of vehicle recovery, including
but not limited to up-righting an overturned vehicle, winching a vehicle from
a location off the roadway.[Amended 9-12-2006 by Ord. No. 2006-26]
- INSIDE BUILDING
- A vehicle storage facility that is completely indoors, having one or more openings in the walls for storage and removal of vehicles, and that is secured by a locking device at each opening.
- MOTOR VEHICLE
- Any automotive vehicle not operated on rails with rubber tires for use on highways and includes, not by way of limitation, automobiles, as defined hereinabove, trucks, buses and motorcycles.
- MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
- An occurrence in which a motor vehicle comes in contact with any object for which the motor vehicle must be towed or removed for placement within a storage facility.
- NIGHT RATE
- When the times, days or circumstances are different than that referred to in the definition of day rate. Weekends are included in the definition of "night rate."
- OUTSIDE SECURED
- A motor vehicle storage facility that is not indoors and is secured by a fence, wall or other man-made barrier that is at least six feet high and installed with a passive alarm system or a similar on-site security measure. The facility is to be lighted at night.
- OUTSIDE UNSECURED
- A motor 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 building" or "outside secured."
- 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.
- TOWING LIST
- A list maintained by the Police Department containing the names of those wreckers licensed by the Township to respond to requests by the Police Department for the towing and storage of motor vehicles.
- The Township of Hillsborough.
- TOW VEHICLE'S BASE OF SERVICE
- The towing operator's principal place of business where the tow vehicle is stationed when not in use.
- WRECKER/TOW VEHICLE
- A vehicle driven by mechanical power and employed for the purposes of towing, transporting, conveying and/or removing any and all kinds of vehicles which are unable to be and actually are not operated under their own power from one place to another, for which a charge or fee is exacted. It includes those vehicles 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 any other motor vehicle.
In order to protect the property and persons who operate a motor vehicle inside the Township of Hillsborough as well as to further promote the free flow of traffic in the Township, it is desirable and necessary to adopt this chapter to ensure proper licensing, storage, availability and other controls over persons and firms providing wrecker services and tow vehicles at police request.
No person who wishes to engage in municipal towing at public request from the official towing list shall engage in the business of operating wrecker or towing vehicles for the aforementioned purposes within the Township without first obtaining a license therefor. Nothing in this chapter shall apply to wreckers that pick up disabled vehicles outside the Township limits and are in the course of taking such vehicles to a garage or other location either within or without the Township and to wreckers whose services are typically requested by the driver or owner of the motor vehicle as opposed to by the Police Department.
The fee for said license shall be $75 paid annually within the month of January of each year. Said licensing fee is intended to cover the cost of administrative expenses which include, not by way of limitation, certain investigation with respect to applications and owners of wrecker/towing services and operators of wrecker/tow truck(s), maintenance of rotating wrecker lists, periodic inspection of wrecker and towing services to ensure compliance with the standards and criteria set forth in this chapter and under New Jersey law.
[Amended 6-28-2000 by Ord. No. 2000-18]
Any person, corporation or business firm who desires to perform towing work at police request should submit a completed Hillsborough Township application for wrecker service license, in duplicate, to the Chief of Police and a statement that he will not discriminate in the hiring, terms and conditions of employment in accordance with New Jersey and federal law.
The applicant shall submit the name, residence, business address and telephone number for himself as owner of the towing company and, the name, residence address, telephone number and drivers license number of each person who will be operating the wrecker/tow truck. If the owner is a corporation, the application shall contain the name, residence, business address and telephone number of every stockholder owning more than 10% of the issued stock.
[Amended 6-28-2000 by Ord. No. 2000-18]
The applicant shall provide such information. as may be required by the Chief of Police concerning the personnel, vehicles, equipment and storage facilities of such applicant as hereinafter provided, showing that the applicant meets the minimum standards of performance.
[Amended 6-28-2000 by Ord. No. 2000-18]
After receiving a Hillsborough Township application for wrecker service, the Chief of Police shall conduct or shall cause to be conducted an investigation to determine:
The truth and accuracy of all information contained in said application.
If either the applicant or his wrecker operators have been convicted of a criminal offense or have had their driver's licenses suspended or revoked within the past year. This shall be a cause for disqualification from inclusion on the official tower's list at the discretion of the Chief of Police or the Township Committee. Any fees associated with the criminal history or the driver's license checks are the responsibility of the applicant or his personnel and are in addition to the application fee.
The applicant must submit the names of any new wrecker/tow truck operators hired after the license is granted within 10 business days for investigation by the Hillsborough police.
Driver's license checks of the owner(s) and all wrecker/tow truck operators will be performed at the time of the initial application and at each renewal. Criminal history checks will be performed at the time of the initial application and every two years thereafter.
Whether the applicant has demonstrated by his equipment capacity and personnel the ability to respond to calls 24 hours a day and whether such ability is sufficient to provide speedy and efficient responses to requests for wrecker service in any part of the Township, which is hereby declared to be a period of 20 minutes.
Whether the equipment is thoroughly safe and in sound condition and complies with the regulations and standards of this chapter as well as any applicable provisions of the New Jersey statutes.
Whether the applicant has demonstrated the adequacy of equipment and facilities, availability and response time and that he can provide for the security of the motor vehicles towed or stored.
Whether the applicant has the proper licenses and trade and business references.
Whether the applicant has sufficient, safe and reasonably proximate storage facilities which are available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.
Upon completion of his investigation, the Chief of Police shall forward a copy of the completed Hillsborough Township application for wrecker service license to the Township Committee along with a recommendation for approval or disapproval of the license and the reason(s), if any, for disapproval. Upon receipt of the application, the Township Committee, based upon a favorable recommendation, shall issue the license to the applicant, and the applicant's name will be placed at the end of the towing list. The license shall be subject to the list of approved wrecker/tow trucker operators for the licensed wrecker/tow trucker owner as issued by and as may be amended by the Hillsborough Police Department or the Township of Hillsborough.
Upon receipt of notice by the Chief of Police that the applicant has been approved and upon compliance by the applicant with § 287-7, Insurance and hold harmless agreement, herein and upon payment by the applicant of the license fee of $75, the Township Clerk shall issue a license.
The Township Committee shall terminate a license under the following circumstances:
When it is found that the license was secured by fraud or concealment of material facts by the wrecker, which facts, if known, would have caused the refusal of the license.
When it is found that the wrecker owner has violated any of the rules and regulations contained in this chapter.
When the Township is not satisfied with the general services of the owner and/or employees or with the cooperation it has received in rendering services.
When it is found that the wrecker/owner has violated New Jersey Department of Insurance regulations as contained in N.J.A.C. 11:3-38 or any other state or federal law.
A license issued to a person or business firm under this chapter shall not be transferable. No official tower shall subcontract any work to be performed pursuant to this chapter without first having obtained prior written approval from the Chief of Police. Any official tower to whom such contract work has been given shall be responsible for the services performed by the subcontractor and shall remain liable for any violations of this chapter by the subcontractor.
Each licensee shall produce his license when called upon to do so during the course of any police towing as authorized under this chapter. Every tow vehicle or flat vehicle shall display the official tower's license and shall have the name of the official tower displayed on the vehicle in such manner and of such lettering as conforms to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 39:4-46.
Any license under this chapter shall be valid for a period of one year.
No wrecker license shall be issued under this chapter until the applicant has deposited with the Chief of Police the following insurance policies:
Garage keeper's policy. A garage keeper's liability policy shall be in the minimum amount of $60,000 per location. Each vehicle damaged shall be deemed a separate claim.
Garage liability; motor vehicle liability, comprehensive general liability and miscellaneous coverage. The wrecker/towing service shall maintain general liability and personal injury insurance coverage in a form satisfactory to the Township of Hillsborough, which shall be for an amount not less than $1,000,000 combined single limit, which insurance policy shall indemnify the Township against any loss due to vehicles, accidents or damages of any character whatsoever, where any such loss is the result of an act or omission of the wrecker, his agents or employees or due to the execution of the work called for under the contract, including but not limited to damages or loss sustained to any vehicle or contents, if such vehicle is in the towing service company's possession. Liability insurance policies shall be specifically endorsed to provide collision insurance for vehicles in tow. The Township of Hillsborough shall be named as an additional insured in all liability policies, and the insurance certifications shall indicate such fact, and shall be presented to the Township for filing.
Every policy required under this section must contain an endorsement by the carrier providing 30 days' notice of cancellation to both the Chief of Police and the insured or in the event of any change in coverage under the policy.
In the event that the policy is changed so as to conform with any of the requirements contained herein or a policy of a licensed wrecker is canceled for any reason, the Chief of Police shall notify the person responsible for the policy, and it shall be corrected or reinstated or replaced with a conforming policy within 10 days after notice is received and before the date of cancellation, and in no event will any license be valid after cancellation of such policy. If the policy or certificate is not corrected, reinstated or replaced within the required time, the Chief of Police shall immediately suspend the wrecker's license and immediately remove the name of the licensed wrecker from the official towing list. If said corrections, reinstatements or replacements of insurance in compliance with this chapter do not occur within 30 days of suspension, the license shall be revoked, and the Chief of Police shall pick up from the owner all indicia of licensing.
Applicants shall agree in writing to assume the defense and indemnify and hold harmless the Township, its elected officials, boards, commissions, officers, employees and agents from all suits, actions, damages or claims to which the Township may be subjected of any kind or nature whatsoever resulting from, caused by, arising out of or as a consequence of the providing of towing, wrecking, storage and/or emergency services provided at the request of the Township pursuant to this chapter. Official towers shall enter into a hold-harmless agreement in a form to be prepared by the Township Attorney prior to being included on the official tower's list.
Proof of workers' compensation coverage in accordance with the New Jersey State statutes shall also be provided to the Township.
Official towers shall be placed on the list in the order in which applications are approved. If the initial list has already been established, new official towers, when their applications have been approved, shall be added to the end of that list.
The Township shall request wrecking, towing and storage services from each official tower in rotation. When called, the tower shall advise the dispatcher if a vehicle is available and the estimated time of arrival. If no tow vehicle is available or if response time will exceed 20 minutes, the next official tower on the list shall be called, and the original tower called shall be placed at the bottom of the rotation list. If none of the official towers are available or able to provide such services as requested by the Township, the Township may request such services from any other available source.
It is specifically permitted for the Chief of Police or his designee to call a wrecker out of sequence if the nature of the wreck requires specialized equipment or if estimated response time makes it practical to do so.
During adverse whether conditions, heavy traffic conditions or emergency conditions, official towers shall give priority to the requests from the Township over any other requests which may be received by the official towers.
[Amended 6-28-2000 by Ord. No. 2000-18; 9-24-2000 by Ord. No. 2002-31; 9-12-2006 by Ord. No. 2006-26]
Basic towing service.
Day rate: $75.
Night rate: $85.
Mileage charge: None unless the vehicle owner or driver requests that the vehicle be towed to a location other than the tower’s facility, which would be subject to a rate of $3 per mile from the scene to the specified destination.
Flatbed service: Vehicles that require flatbed wrecker service are subject to an additional $25 charge.
Extraordinary towing service.
Day rate: $250 per hour.
Night rate: $300 per hour.
For a recovery that requires more than one recovery vehicle, the hourly rate shall be charged for each recovery vehicle used.
The hourly rate begins when the wrecker arrives on location. There shall be a minimum one-hour charge and additional time beyond the first hour shall be charged in fifteen-minute increments.
When extraordinary towing service is required for vehicles with a registered weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less, only the extraordinary towing service rate shall apply.
Speedy dry or other similar absorbent.
For cleanups requiring speedy dry or other similar absorbent material, there shall be a $20 charge for each vehicle that is leaking fluids.
The Chief of Police shall maintain due diligence over all wreckers and see that they are kept in safe condition for transporting or hauling disabled motor vehicles and shall have the right at all times to inspect all licensed wreckers and shall maintain a report of all such inspections.
If at any time the Chief of Police shall find the equipment inadequate or unsafe, he shall have the power to demand immediate correction, and if not so corrected by the applicant to the satisfaction of the Chief of Police, the Chief of Police shall have the power to suspend the license until such time as the corrections or repairs are made.
The wrecker/towing service through its authorized agents must agree to follow the instructions and orders of the police officers in charge of the removal scene. The wrecker/towing service shall remove any vehicles which the Police Department may lawfully direct them to so do and shall store the same at their lot or storage facility until said vehicle is reclaimed by the lawful owner or otherwise disposed of according to law.
The wrecker/towing service shall be responsible for any vehicle and the contents thereof after receiving said motor vehicle in its custody and shall reimburse the owner of any such motor vehicle removed by it for any such damage or loss sustained to any motor vehicle or its contents while said motor vehicle is in the towing service/wrecker company's possession.
The wrecker/towing service shall not make any repairs to any vehicle towed or removed by it as provided hereunder without first receiving written authorization of the owner thereof or authorized agent.
The wrecker/towing service, in removing damaged or impounded automobiles, light vehicles, including pick-up trucks, mini-vans, motorcycles and vans, shall use, at a minimum, the vehicle manufacturer's suggested towing or removal method, including but not limited to a hook tow, dolly, winch, sling, wheel lift or underreach or flatbed.
The wrecker/towing service shall be responsible for removing all debris from an accident scene. This will include sweeping the roadway and removing all broken glass, plastic and other parts and removal of such debris from the scene if so directed. This will be done with no charge to the Township or the owner of the motor vehicle being towed. The wrecker/towing service shall also be required to carry a speedy-dry substance to assist in the removal of small fluid spills and shall also be required to carry all necessary debris removal equipment, such as shovel, broom and containers.
All charges made by the wrecker/towing service shall be paid by the owner or operator or any person, firm or corporation claiming the right to possession of any motor vehicle moved or stored by the towing service/wrecker company as provided for herein, and the Township of Hillsborough shall not be liable for the payment of any sum to the wrecker/towing service which may be due on account of any towing, removal or storage.
All ordinance regulations and fee schedules of wreckers/towers shall be made available to the public at the office of the Municipal Clerk during normal business hours. Such regulations and fee schedules shall also be posted at the storage facility.
In all of his dealings with the public in connection with this chapter, the licensee is expected to always act in a professional manner and at all times to be courteous and respectful toward members of the public as well as members of the Township. While members of the public, especially those whose cars have been towed and impounded, may at times resort to strong language, threats and unbecoming behavior toward the licensee, the licensee is expected to exercise restraint and not to respond in kind and thereby reflect unfavorably upon the Township and/or the Police Department. No employee of the wrecker shall represent to any member of the public that he is an employee of the Township.
Reports of discourteous behavior, excessive fees and damages to motor vehicles by the licensee which can be substantiated and documented may be considered by the Township as sufficient cause for termination from the rotation list.
Each official tower shall keep and maintain adequate and complete records showing all vehicles towed, stored and released, all services rendered and all fees charged and collected. All records shall be available for inspection by the Township at any time during normal business hours. Records shall be kept and maintained by the official tower at one central location and shall be retained for a period of four years. Records may be written, printed or computerized as long as the requirements of this subsection are met.
The licensee shall make all tow vehicles available to the Police Department for inspection at any time. All changes to the roster of vehicles must be filed with the Chief of Police prior to their being placed in service and inspected by the Police Department.
All tow vehicles must be clearly permanently marked with the name of the licensee.
Municipal penalties. Any person violating the provisions of this chapter or of any rules and regulations adopted hereunder shall, upon conviction, be deemed guilty of a Class B violation, punishable as provided in Chapter 1, General Provisions, Article II, of the Hillsborough Township Municipal Code.
State penalties imposed by New Jersey Department of Insurance.
Failure of a person to abide by the requirements of the Department of Insurance Regulations, N.J.A.C. 11:3-38 may be punishable by a fine not to exceed $5,000 for the first violation, $10,000 for the second violation and $15,000 for any subsequent violation pursuant to N.J.S.A. 17:33A-5.
Violators who are licensed as an automobile repair facility will be reported to the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles. Insurers may also report violators under the provisions of N.J.S.A. 17:23-8 to 17:23-15.
Request for interpretations of N.J.A.C. 11:3-38 may be directed to the New Jersey Department of Insurance.
Day-to-day questions regarding the interpretation and enforcement of Department of Insurance rules should be referred to the New Jersey Department of Insurance.
[Added 6-28-2000 by Ord. No. 2000-18]
Complaints and violations against licensed wrecker/tow truck owners or wrecker/tow truck operators.
All complaints involving vehicles towed and stored with or without the owner's consent, regarding the improper or unsatisfactory performance of services by a licensed wrecker/tow truck owner or operator, violation of this chapter or applicable law, excess charges or damage to a motor vehicle while in custody of the licensed wrecker/tow truck owner or operator shall be made to the Chief of Police. If complaints are made to any other office or employee of the Township, they shall be promptly forwarded to the Chief of Police.
In the event a complaint is received by the Chief of Police a written notice of the same shall be provided by the Chief of Police or his appointee to the complainant, the licensed wrecker/tow truck owner and the wrecker/tow truck operator. After a complaint is received by the Chief of Police, he shall direct an investigation of the circumstances surrounding the complaint.
If the investigation reveals a violation of the Township Code, the Chief of Police shall notify the Business Administrator, and within 45 days of receipt of the complaint, the matter shall be heard by the Township Committee or it appointee as provided herein. If the investigation reveals that there has been no violation of the Township Code, the complainant, the licensed wrecker/tow truck owner and wrecker/tow truck operator shall be given written notice of the same.
Complaints and violations against the Township.
All complaints involving vehicles towed and stored with or without the owner's consent, the improper or unsatisfactory performance of services by the Township, violation of this chapter or applicable law, excess charges or damage to a motor vehicle while in custody of the Township shall be made to the Chief of Police. If complaints are made to any other office or employee of the Township, they shall be promptly forwarded to the Chief of Police. Upon receipt of a complaint, a copy of the complaint shall be promptly provided to the Township Administrator by the Chief of Police.
After a complaint is received by the Chief of Police he shall direct an investigation of the circumstances surrounding the complaint.
If the employee involved is other than an employee of the Police Department, within 30 days of receipt of the complaint the Chief of Police or his appointee shall make a written report to the governing body detailing his investigations and determinations. Thereafter the governing body shall have 30 days to conduct any additional investigation. Within 45 days of receipt of the written report from the Chief of Police, the matter shall be heard by the governing body or its appointee as provided herein.
If the employee involved is an employee of the Police Department, the matter will be investigated and heard as an internal affairs complaint as per Department policy.
The complainant, the licensed wrecker/tow truck owner and wrecker/tow truck operator involved or Township employee(s) involved shall be given seven days' written notice of the hearing. The governing body or its appointee shall consider the matter at a hearing open to the public, and may request that the complainant, the licensed wrecker/tow truck owner and wrecker/tow truck operator or Township employee(s) involved appear and give testimony and/or provide documents, photographs and the like regarding the complaint. The licensed wrecker/tow truck owner or wrecker/tow truck operator involved or Township employee(s) involved shall be afforded the right to be heard, including presenting witness(es), documents, photographs and the like regarding the complaint. After considering the matter and the evidence presented, the governing body or its appointee shall make certain findings and conclusions relative to the complaint which shall constitute the decision.
If the governing body or its appointee finds in favor of the complainant and against the licensed wrecker/tow truck owner or wrecker/tow truck operator by a preponderance of the evidence, the governing body or appointee may consider and impose the following penalties: suspension of the licensed wrecker/tow truck owner's or operator's Township license; revocation of such license for a fixed period or duration; permanent revocation of the license; removing certain wrecker/tow truck operator(s) as approved operators from the owner's license, or any other such penalty as the governing body deems just and appropriate under the circumstances, including but not limited to any other remedies within the Township ordinances applicable to the license wrecker/tow truck operator and available by applicable law.
If the governing body or its appointee finds in favor of the complainant in a complaint against the Township of Hillsborough, the governing body or appointee may consider and impose the following remedies: the full or partial refund of the towing rate and storage fees required; the payment of any damage, if any, to the vehicle not covered by the vehicle owner's insurance or the applicable Township insurance polices in effect for such damage; and such other penalties as the governing body deems just and appropriate under the circumstances.
In considering the imposition of penalties, the governing body or appointee shall take into account factors including, but not limited to, any prior violations, the nature and seriousness of the complaint, the danger to the health, safety and welfare of the public.
[Amended 6-28-2000 by Ord. No. 2000-18]
The Police Department of the Township of Hillsborough shall be responsible for enforcement of the provisions of this chapter.
[Amended 6-28-2000 by Ord. No. 2000-18]
Nothing contained herein shall prevent or limit the right of any person to commence or maintain an action for damages or any other relief, whether civil or criminal, against a licensed wrecker/tow truck owner or wrecker/tow truck operator, the Township of Hillsborough or its officials or employees for complaints relating to the towing of a vehicle in a court of competent jurisdiction. The provisions of this chapter shall in no manner be construed to restrict or otherwise limit the Township or the Police Department's ability to investigate, prosecute or enforce any other laws, rules, regulations or contract remedies available.