[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Westville 12-10-1991; amended in its entirety 8-25-2004 by Ord. No. 10-04 (Ch. 114 of the 1974 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Borough of Westville deems it in its best interests to adopt criteria and procedures for the towing of motor vehicles in the Borough of Westville.
The purpose of this chapter is to provide for the nondiscriminatory and nonexclusionary regulation of local towing and storage operators engaged in the business of removing and storing motor vehicles, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.49.
The Borough of Westville assumes no liability in collecting of bills for towing services.
The applicant shall keep records of all towing for a period of three years or each year of the contract, if not renewed, as to who was towed, vehicle plate number, vehicle identification number, location of event, amount charged and date and time of the call.
The applicant shall not use a satellite storage yard not named in the application.
The applicant shall be responsible for the conduct of his/her employees. The Borough accepts no responsibility for their actions, nor are they agents of the Borough.
The schedule for towing and storage fees shall be in accordance with this chapter pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.49.
The need/calling out of heavy-duty wrecker and vehicles exceeding five tons shall be the responsibility of the designated emergency personnel at the scene, taking into account public safety, response time, and any other existing factors that may have arisen. The applicant may or may not have this service available. If so, they shall be given priority over outside vendors.
The Borough of Westville shall keep and maintain a separate rolling list of towing contractors for the towing of abandoned or junk vehicles. The collection of fees for towing these vehicles shall be the sole responsibility of the towing contractor. The Borough of Westville shall not be liable for these towing fees.
The Borough of Westville assumes no responsibility for the storage of abandoned vehicles taken in for safekeeping. The Police Department shall assist the applicant in title research for proper destruction of said vehicles.
These regulations as well as related fee schedules are available to the public during normal business hours at Borough Hall.
The Chief of Police is the Municipal Officer or agency appointed to enforce the provisions of this chapter in accordance with due process of law required by N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.49.
Removal of motor vehicles. Whenever a police officer orders the removal of automobiles from private or public property, the officer shall utilize the rotation lists established in Subsection C of this section.
An officer may allow the driver of a vehicle involved in a motor vehicle accident or a disabled motor vehicle to arrange for their own selection of a wrecker to tow said vehicle, provided that such a request does not impair traffic and will not require the officer to remain at the scene after his or her normal responsibility is concluded.
Towing operators. Every three years the Borough Council shall establish by resolution a list of licensed towing operators pursuant to § 379-8 to be utilized by the Police Department on a rotating basis. Such list shall be utilized members of the Police Department on a nondiscriminatory basis. Only those towing operators who meet the minimum standards of operator performance set forth in this chapter shall be included on such list. The list may be modified by Council at any time.
Application. Each owner of a towing service that applies to be a towing operator for the Police Department must execute the authorization by subject of request and privacy act notification area of Form SBI-212A and SBI-212B (Request for Criminal History Record Information for a Non-Criminal-Justice Purpose) and submit to a criminal background investigation pursuant to N.J.S.A. 53:1-20.5 et seq. This investigation shall include disclosure of any crime, misdemeanor or violation of any municipal ordinance, the nature of the offense and the punishment or penalty assessed. Additionally, the Chief of Police shall also cause the applicant to be fingerprinted for the purpose of a criminal history check. All applicants must submit a cashier's check in the amount of $49, payable to the Division of State Police-SBI for the criminal history search. If the applicant is a corporation, then this requirement shall apply to the officers of the corporation. The investigation shall also apply to any and all personnel who operate the towing equipment for the owner of the towing service, if that person is engaged to provide service as requested by the Borough of Westville. As a result of such investigation, the Chief of Police shall note, in writing, his recommendation and his reasons therefor to the Borough Clerk. The Borough Clerk shall present the completed application, along with such recommendation from the Chief of Police as to whether the application shall issue, at the next regularly scheduled public meeting. If the Borough Council so directs, the Borough Clerk shall approve the application.
Equipment. All towing operators shall meet the following requirements:
For classification as an automobile towing service, the operator must possess and make available for service at least one wrecker truck provided with a crane capable of handling the heaviest passenger motor vehicles and one flatbed-style tow vehicle equipped to render first-class wrecking, towing and road service.
All tow vehicles must carry the following equipment:
Tire-changing equipment and portable air tank.
Jack and hammer.
Pry bar or similar tool.
Speed dry or similar liquid absorbent and disposal container.
Two-way radio communication system or cellular telephone.
Hazmat cleanup kit.
All towing vehicles must carry a copy of the rate schedule established by Westville Borough. Said schedule must also be displayed in a conspicuous manner at the operator's place of business.
Facilities. Each operator must have a storage lot and place of business within the Borough of Westville, or within a two-mile radius of the Borough of Westville's corporate limits. The towing business and storage lot must comply with all zoning ordinances and regulations in the municipality in which they are located. The operator shall maintain, at a minimum, an automobile storage facility that need not be indoors and must be secured by a fence, wall or other man-made barrier that is at least six feet high. The facility is to be lighted at night.
Availability and response time. Each operator must be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and must respond within 15 minutes of receipt of notice during the daytime hours and 25 minutes during nighttime hours of the original telephone call request by the Police Department, unless heavy or unusual traffic conditions within or without the Borough prevent the contractor from arriving within the prescribed time. In that event, the operator or contractor shall arrive in a reasonable time, giving allowance for said traffic conditions.
The length of the license shall be for a three-year period. Each year shall require passage of a background check by owners and employees.
The license shall not be transferable to another owner without approval of the Borough of Westville and the posting of the proper fee.
The application fee will be $500 for the three-year term of the license.
All complaints referring to towing service shall be directed to the Police Department by the applicant and/or his/her employees.
It is the responsibility of the applicant to notify the Borough of Westville at once upon cancellation of business insurance.
The Borough of Westville shall not be responsible for insurance coverage to the applicant.
The applicant shall provide insurance by a state-approved licensed carrier and must indemnify the Borough of Westville.
The applicant shall maintain insurance coverage as set forth herein during the entire length of the towing contract.
The applicant shall provide a certificate of insurance indicating the applicant has the minimum coverage of insurance as follows:
Automobile liability in an amount not less than $1,000,000 combined single limit.
Workers' compensation for all employees with a limit of at least $100,000.
Garage keepers' liability in an amount not less than $60,000 per location.
Garage liability in an amount not less than $1,000,000 combine single limit.
Comprehensive general liability to provide complete protection to the Borough against any and all risks of loss and liability in the amount of $500,000.
Excess umbrella policy in the amount of $1,000,000.
Policies endorsed to provide collision coverage for vehicles in tow.
Theft insurance on stored vehicles.
The Borough shall be named as an additional insured.
The applicant shall also provide the Borough of Westville with a hold harmless agreement, in a form satisfactory to the Borough Attorney.
Automobiles and motorcycles. The fee schedule for towing services, storage and administrative services shall be established by the Borough Council by resolution.
Inclement weather conditions. The towing operator may, during inclement weather conditions, such as but limited to snow storm, ice storm, black ice conditions, flooding, or during a state of emergency, charge an extra 20% of the final invoice (if towed under normal conditions) for towing services provided. (See Fee Schedule.)
The Borough Council shall by public resolution authorize the issuance of towing operator licenses after consideration of the applications submitted in conformity with this chapter.
Release of impounded vehicles. No impounded vehicle is to be released without proper authorization from the Police Department. Vehicle release arrangements must be available from the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon Saturday (excluding New Jersey state holidays). The owner of the vehicle (or his designee) shall provide a paid receipt from the towing operator, and then respond to the Borough of Westville Police Department to arrange for the release of his/her vehicle from the police impound yard or towing operator's facility, as may be the case. A invoice for the towing service provided (when a vehicle is towed to the police impound yard) will be left with the vehicle, as well as the keys for said vehicle. The Police Department will retain custody of both the invoice and keys for all vehicles towed to the police impound yard. All transactions of this type will be recorded in a log book, and the principal of the towing establishment will be required to sign the log book to acknowledge receipt of said payment. The hours for release of the impounded vehicle shall be Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. through 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. Appointment for release of the vehicle shall be made through the shift supervisor, who shall be responsible to ensure that all laws and procedures concerning the release of vehicles are followed. The Borough shall supply junk titles or good titles to abandoned vehicles in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 39:10-1 et seq., for vehicles unclaimed over 30 days. The Borough shall compensate the towing service for the towing bill for such vehicles unclaimed for over 30 days and for vehicles stored in the police impound yard. A junk title shall be applied for, and the towing service paid after the Borough recovers the value of the vehicle. For any vehicles that are towed and stored by the towing operator, the Borough shall apply for a junk title and compensate the towing operator for the towing fee and storage, up to the limit of the value of said vehicle.
Each operator on the approved lists shall furnish the Borough Clerk with a certificate of insurance from an insurance company satisfactory to the Borough. Each certificate of insurance shall identify the coverage provided and shall provide that such insurance shall not be changed or canceled without giving 10 days' prior written notice to the Borough by certified mail, return receipt requested. Specific reference to the rotating lists of towing operators shall be made on all policies of insurance.
Each operator shall also provide to the Borough of Westville with a hold harmless agreement to indemnify and hold the Borough harmless from all damages and claims for damages which may be made by any person for bodily injury or property damages resulting from the operator's performance.
Each operator shall have an on-hook vehicle rider on their towing insurance policy. This rider will provide insurance should the towed vehicle become uncoupled from the tow truck during towing operations.
The applicant shall maintain insurance for the entire length of the towing contract and provide a certificate of insurance on an annual basis to the Borough Clerk.
Enforcement. The Police Department is designated to enforce the provisions of this chapter in accordance with due process of law. In carrying out the provisions of this chapter, the Police Chief is hereby authorized to adopt additional reasonable regulations which are not inconsistent with this chapter.
Abandoned or unclaimed vehicles.
Any vehicle which is not claimed by the owner within 30 days of impoundment shall be reported by the operator storing the vehicle to the Police Department, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:10A-1 through 39:10A-7.
After expiration of the thirty-day period, the Police Department shall make application for title to the Division of Motor Vehicles as per standing general orders. Vehicles that remain unclaimed after all requirements of the general orders are met shall be auctioned off to recover the towing costs, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:10A-1 through 39:10A-7.
Any operator found to be disposing of vehicles in violation of procedure will be charged with misapplication of entrusted property (N.J.S.A. 2C:21-15) and will be prohibited from providing service to the Borough of Westville.
Rights of owners.
Public inspection. This chapter, all regulations adopted by the Police Chief and the fee schedules of individual tow operators shall be available to the public during normal business hours.
Operator dealings with the public.
The operator shall always act in a professional manner and at all times be courteous and respectful toward members of the public, as well as representatives of the Borough of Westville. If members of the public, especially those whose cars may have been towed or impounded, resort to strong language, threats and unbecoming behavior toward the operator, the operator is expected to exercise restraint and not respond in kind and thereby reflect unfavorably on the Borough of Westville and/or the Police Department.
Repeated acts of discourteous behavior by the operator, which can be substantiated and documented, may be considered by the Borough as sufficient cause for removal of the operator from the rotational list of automobile towing operators and truck towing operators as established consistent with § 379-4C.
Removal of towed vehicles; location for storage.
A vehicle that is removed by a towing company under this chapter, in which the Police Department has a duty to impound said vehicle for investigative or security reasons, shall be towed to the Police Department impound yard and stored there, until all investigations are completed and/or proper paperwork to support the release of the motor vehicle back to the owner or his designee are presented for Police Department approval.
A vehicle that is removed by a towing company that the Police Department has no interest in (i.e., disabled motor vehicle or one that is involved in a crash without Police Department investigation required) may be towed back to the towing operator's facility or to a location of the vehicle owner's choice, provided that the towing contractor is in a position to comply with such a request.
The fees for towing services, road service other than towing and storage services shall be set from time to time by resolution of the Borough Council.
For any services which are not set forth herein, the contractor may charge a reasonable rate, based on the usual, customary and reasonable rates of operators towing and storing motor vehicles in the municipality or county. Rates for such additional services, such as recovery, winching, uprighting, impalement and any services relating to large trucks shall be set forth on a schedule established by the contractor and provided to the Borough official charged with the responsibility for reviewing applications and with establishing a rotation pursuant to § 379-4C.
The minimum charge for call-out charges shall be set from time to time by resolution of the Borough Council, which shall be paid by the vehicle owner.
If the Borough of Westville Police call out a duty wrecker for accident or impound, and the vehicle has no value (salvage), and the owner fails to respond for payment, then the Borough of Westville will obtain title to the vehicle for salvage. The towing company will absorb the storage charge until the vehicle title is conveyed to the towing company by the Borough of Westville to discard the vehicle.
Administrative charges are set from time to time by resolution of the Borough Council.
Complaint and hearing. The governing body shall have the right to suspend or revoke any towing privileges issued pursuant to this chapter for good cause upon written complaint of the Police Chief. In the event that a towing operator fails or refuses to follow the call-out schedule or refuses to retain the proper equipment, personnel or facilities necessary to perform the services required for towing operators, or that the services performed are not satisfactory or violate any provision of this chapter or rule or regulation duly adopted, the Police Chief shall file a written complaint with the governing body that there is probable cause for revocation or suspension. Written notice of such complaint and the basis of the complaint shall be given to the towing operator, and said operator shall be entitled to a hearing before the governing body prior to final determination of the complaint by the governing body.
Any operator who violates any section of this chapter, in addition to any other penalties provided by law and Chapter 1, Article I, § 1-15, General penalty, shall be subject to suspension of towing privileges for one month for a first offense, three months for a second offense and six months for a third offense. If the operator commits a fourth offense, its right to provide towing services to the Borough shall be permanently revoked, and the towing operator shall be removed from the list of approved operators.
Any operator who violates the operator rate schedule shall, in addition to any other penalties provided by law, be subject to the penalties set forth in Chapter 1, Article I, § 1-15, General penalty, and, in addition, for the first violation, suspension of towing privileges for one month; for a second violation, suspension of towing privileges for six months; for a third violation, permanent revocation of towing privileges.
In all cases, if an operator overcharges a vehicle owner, the excess monies shall be returned by the operator to the owner within 10 business days.
A towing operator may be removed from the list adopted pursuant to § 379-4C, by resolution of the Borough Council, if its performance is determined to be unreliable or inadequate. If there is a breach of any of the provisions of this chapter or applicable regulations, an operator may be removed from the list by the Chief of Police pending action by the Borough Council.
Violators who are licensed as an automobile repair facility will be reported to the Division of Motor Vehicles. Insurers may also report violators under the provisions of N.J.S.A. 17:23-8 to N.J.S.A. 17:23-15.