Borough of Caldwell, NJ
Essex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Caldwell 12-22-2009 by Ord. No. 1201-09. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Vehicles and traffic — See Ch. 230.
Sale of vehicles — See Ch. 234.
ATTACHMENTS
231a Schedule A
This chapter shall be known as the "Towing and Storage of Vehicles Ordinance" of the Borough of Caldwell.
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 Borough as being involved in criminal activities.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
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.
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.
IMPOUNDMENT
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 Borough 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 an on-site security or 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 building" or "outside secured."
OWNER
A person, firm, corporation or partnership who owns and/or operates a vehicle on the roads and highways within the Borough of Caldwell, which vehicle, by reason of being disabled or abandoned on the roads and highways of the Borough, 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 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 under-reach equipment specifically designed by its manufacturer for the removal or transport of private passenger automobiles or other vehicles.
A. 
The Borough Council shall appoint persons or companies meeting the criteria set forth in this chapter and engaged in the business of offering the services of tow vehicles, as defined herein. These persons or companies shall be known as "towing operators."
B. 
Licenses shall not be transferable or assignable.
C. 
All licenses shall expire on December 31 of the year issued, except licenses issued after July 31, which shall expire on December 31 of the following year.
D. 
A towing operator may not subcontract any work to be performed pursuant to this chapter, except those services described in this chapter which require a heavy-duty wrecker. A towing operator who does not own a heavy-duty wrecker may meet the requirements of this chapter by subcontracting this heavy-duty wrecker service to another towing company. Any towing operator to whom approval is granted to subcontract services for a heavy-duty wrecker shall be responsible to the Borough for the quality of those services performed by its subcontractor, and shall remain liable for any violations of this chapter by the subcontractor.
E. 
An applicant seeking approval of a subcontractor for heavy-duty wrecker service shall supply the application information for both the applicant and proposed subcontractor.
A. 
Every applicant for a license under this chapter shall file an application in writing, which shall state the following:
(1) 
Applicant's name, business address, telephone, facsimile, email address, and taxpayer identification number;
(2) 
Name, address and social security number of all persons having an ownership interest in any applicant entity;
(3) 
Location of storage area(s) and the amount of available space for storage of towed vehicles;
(4) 
Certificates of insurance evidencing adequate insurance coverage as provided herein;
(5) 
Serial number and registration of each vehicle to be operated by the applicant;
(6) 
Consent to appointment of the Borough Clerk as the applicant's true and lawful attorney for the purpose of acknowledging service out of any court of competent jurisdiction to be served against the applicant;
(7) 
Certification that the applicant will be able to provide towing services anywhere in the Borough, with a maximum response time of 20 minutes, except when extraordinary circumstances occur;
(8) 
Certification that the applicant will be available for service 24 hours a day and that the fee schedule contained herein shall be acknowledged and applied;[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: The fee schedule in included at the end of this chapter.
(9) 
Applicant shall include photocopies of registrations of all tow vehicles to be operated by applicant;
(10) 
Applicant shall include photocopies of all towing vehicles operators' current driver's license, along with their social security numbers;
(11) 
The applicant shall submit completed duplicate applications, along with a non-refundable application fee of $200, to the Borough Clerk;
(12) 
List of municipalities where licenses have been issued to the applicant;
(13) 
Disclosure of any denial or rescission of municipal licenses, explaining the issue in full.
B. 
All applications shall be referred to the Chief of Police, or an officer designated by the Chief, for an investigation as follows:
(1) 
Each application shall be subject to whatever investigation of the applicant's business responsibility, moral character and ability to properly conduct the licensed activity the Chief of Police considers necessary for the protection of the public. The findings shall be communicated in writing to the Borough Clerk within a reasonable time after the application has been filed. If the investigator shall determine that the applicant's character, ability or business responsibility is unsatisfactory or that the products, services or activity are not adequate, he/she shall so advise the Borough Clerk. Where appropriate, or where expressly provided, investigation of applicants and their business shall be referred to the Board of Health, Fire Department, Fire Prevention Bureau or Construction Official for their recommendations. In the event of a recommendation the license be denied, the applicant may appeal to the Borough Council for a hearing. The appeal must be filed, in writing, with the Borough Clerk within 14 days after notification of the recommendation of refusal. The Council shall hold its hearing within 14 days thereafter, and its decision shall be final.
C. 
The following issues and standards shall be addressed in the investigation:
(1) 
Conviction of a criminal offense, or suspension or revocation of a driver's license.
(2) 
History of accidents or complaints.
(3) 
Accuracy of the applicant's submissions.
(4) 
Compliance with the requirements of the chapter.
(5) 
Verification that all tow truck drivers shall have and maintain a valid New Jersey commercial driver's license for the vehicle they operate.
(6) 
Operators of heavy-duty wreckers have a valid HAZMAT endorsement on their commercial driver's license.
(7) 
Tow truck drivers with two years of experience shall have Towing and Recovery Association of America National Driver Certification (TRAA) Level 1, and heavy-duty tow truck drivers shall have Level 2. To perform any recovery operation at least one employee shall have Level 3. For those drivers with less than two years' experience, the applicant shall provide evidence that employees have been trained in the proper use of the equipment to be operated.
(8) 
Drivers shall be of good moral character, mentally alert, and present a neat appearance.
(9) 
Drivers and employees shall act in a courteous and professional manner when interacting with the police and public.
(10) 
Applicant maintains a twenty-four-hour telephone service, and has radio or cellular two-way communication with vehicles and drivers. The use of answering machines shall not satisfy the standard.
(11) 
Any costs associated with license and background checks are paid by the applicant.
(12) 
Any other matters deemed pertinent by the Chief of Police.
D. 
Upon approval of the application by the Borough Council, the Borough Clerk shall issue a license to the applicant, and any approved subcontractor. In order to continue to maintain the license, the standards involved in the investigation shall be maintained, and there shall be continued adherence to the chapter requirements. Each tow truck driver shall appear in person at the Borough Police Department to be registered as a tow truck driver prior to operation of any tow truck on Borough streets.
A. 
The licensee shall have in effect, prior to application and at all times during the term of the license, the following insurance:
(1) 
Garage keeper's liability must be maintained in the amount of $500,000 for any one claimant, and $1,000,000 for more than one claimant along with $500,000 of coverage for property damage for any one event.
(2) 
Automobile insurance must be maintained and it must be issued by a financially sound insurance corporation authorized to transact business in the State of New Jersey. The policy must insure every tow truck operator against liability imposed by law for damages arising out of bodily injury, including death, sustained by any person and injury or destruction of property, including the loss of use thereof, caused by accident and arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of the tow truck of the licensee. The amount of the limits of liability coverage to be offered by such policy shall be $1,000,000 for bodily injury to each person, $3,000,000 for bodily injuries in each accident and $500,000 for property damage in each accident.
B. 
The licensee shall supply all certificates of insurance to the Borough Clerk.
C. 
Policies of insurance shall contain endorsements to provide collision coverage for vehicles in tow.
D. 
The Borough of Caldwell shall be named as an additional insured on all policies of insurance provided pursuant to this chapter. All certificates of insurance shall provide that the policies may not be cancelled, terminated or coverage decreased without 30 days' written notice to the Borough.
E. 
Policies of insurance required by this chapter must be maintained in full force and effect at all times. In the event any coverage is cancelled, terminated, interrupted, or decreased in amount, the applicant may be removed from the Towing Operators List and reinstated at the discretion of the Borough Council.
A. 
Every licensee, to render the services required by this section, shall own or lease a minimum of two regular-duty wreckers and one flatbed vehicle, or their equivalent. Every licensee must own, lease or subcontract for the services one heavy-duty wrecker.
B. 
Regular-duty wreckers must be equipped with a boom or winch assembly mounted on the chassis, a tow-sling or wheel-lift assembly, at least 100 feet of either three-eighths-inch or seven-sixteenths-inch cable attached to a motor-driven winch.
C. 
Heavy-duty wreckers must be capable of towing new-style buses and trucks with fiberglass front ends.
D. 
Flatbed vehicles must be equipped with a winch or hydraulically operated bed that slides or tilts to accommodate the transporting of vehicles.
E. 
In addition to the above, the following equipment must be carried in all trucks at all times:
(1) 
Chains and tie downs to secure vehicles.
(2) 
Snatch block.
(3) 
Auxiliary safety light kit to be placed on rear of towed vehicle that does not have functioning taillight flashers.
(4) 
Rotating amber emergency lights mounted on top of truck (state-issued permit required).
(5) 
Two white working lights facing rear of truck.
(6) 
Toolbox with assorted hand tools normally used to conduct emergency roadwork and towing.
(7) 
One reflectorized vest.
(8) 
One five-pound A-B-C rated dry powder fire extinguisher.
(9) 
One flashlight.
F. 
Every tow vehicle or flatbed vehicle shall comply with any and all state, federal and local laws, regulations and ordinances pertaining to safety, lighting and towing equipment requirements and shall be subject to inspection by the Chief of Police or his or her designee at any time.
G. 
Every tow vehicle shall have the name of the 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.
A. 
Every licensee shall maintain a secured facility meeting the following requirements:
(1) 
An outside secured storage area that is in one location sufficient to accommodate 50 vehicles at any one time and an indoor secured storage facility in one location sufficient to accommodate at least five vehicles at any one time. These secured storage areas must be solely under the control of the licensee at all times.
(2) 
All storage areas must meet the requirements of N.J.A.C. 11:3-38.2, particularly that the outside secured area shall be fully enclosed by a sturdy fence, wall or other man-made barrier having a minimum height of six feet, with at least one lockable gate for ingress and egress and shall be lighted from dusk to dawn.
(3) 
The storage facilities shall be in an area legally zoned for such use.
(4) 
The storage facilities shall be available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year for police investigations and shall be open to the public on weekdays during normal business hours and for four hours on Saturdays. The applicant shall specify the hours on which the facilities will be open on Saturdays.
(5) 
A licensee shall be responsible for ensuring the proper and safe storage of all vehicles towed pursuant to this section. A licensee shall be liable for any damage incurred by such vehicles while in transit or while stored in a facility.
B. 
The principal place of business and principal storage yard of the licensee shall be maintained at a location not to exceed 10 miles from the Caldwell Police Department headquarters.
A. 
Towing operators shall be placed on the Towing Operators List at the beginning of each year in accordance with the procedures as set forth in this chapter. The towing operators shall rotate on the list for one week at a time or for such period as designated by the Chief of Police in accordance with his or her rulemaking authority under this chapter. Unless otherwise changed by the Chief of Police under his or her rulemaking authority, the one-week rotation shall commence at 12:00 a.m. Monday and terminate at 11:59 p.m. the following Sunday.
B. 
The Borough shall request wrecking, towing and storage services from each towing operator 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, in the discretion of the Borough official making the request, the response time is inadequate under the circumstances to properly protect the public health, safety or welfare, the next towing operator on the list shall be called for that particular towing event. The towing operator who is at the top of the list, however, shall remain on the top of the list for any subsequent calls until that tower's one-week period at the top of the list is finished.
C. 
All requests for service shall be made by the Chief of Police or his or her official designee.
D. 
The Borough shall request service only from towing operators; provided, however, that if no emergency or road hazard exists, the Borough shall request such service from such other person as the owner of the motor vehicle in need of such services may request; and provided further that if none of the towing operators are available or able to provide such services as are requested by the Borough, or if an emergency exists, the Borough may request such services from any other available source.
E. 
During adverse weather conditions, heavy traffic conditions or emergency conditions, towing operators shall give priority to requests from the Borough over any other requests which may be received by the towing operators.
F. 
Nothing in the chapter shall prevent the owner or operator of a vehicle from contacting a tower or wrecker of his or her own choice to remove the automobile from the public streets of the Borough after it has become disabled or otherwise inoperable, unless the police officer on the scene determines that public safety requires that the vehicle be immediately removed from the scene, at which time a licensed tower will be notified.
A. 
Each licensee, prior to departure from the scene of towing services, shall clean and clear the streets of any debris resulting from any accident at such scene when a tow is performed, as per N.J.S.A. 39:4-56.8(b) and to the reasonable satisfaction of the police and at all times carry the necessary equipment to perform such cleaning services and may charge the owner's insurance company for the service. The licensee shall also be responsible to replace and remove absorbent that the Caldwell Fire Department uses at an accident scene. The licensee may charge the vehicle owner for any bags of absorbent that are given as replacements to the Caldwell Fire Department or any bags of absorbent used solely by the licensee.
B. 
Before towing a vehicle the licensee shall remove or secure anything that may fall from the disabled vehicle while being towed.
C. 
All tow trucks shall be operated in accordance with all existing traffic regulations and in a safe and prudent manner. Tow truck drivers will request police assistance during the course of servicing when they find it necessary to turn around, back up, tow in a direction opposite to normal traffic, to cross a median, or other required help.
D. 
The police officer investigating the incident is in complete charge of the incident scene (excluding actual towing operations), and all drivers shall comply with the officer's instructions.
E. 
Each licensee shall provide the Borough Police Chief with a typewritten list of vehicles in its custody towed from the Borough of Caldwell which remain unclaimed on the first day of each and every month.
F. 
The act of cruising, operation of a tow truck upon a roadway within the Borough of Caldwell to solicit vehicle towing, and other related towing services, except in response to a police request, is prohibited.
G. 
Vehicles impounded or confiscated by the police and stored by the licensee shall not be released without written authorization from the Caldwell Police Department.
H. 
Any additional fees charged for mileage shall exclude the equal distance from the point of vehicle hookup to the licensee's described storage yard.
The Chief of Police shall be responsible for the supervision and enforcement of the terms and provisions of this chapter and the rules and regulations adopted hereunder.
A. 
Unless another penalty is expressly provided by New Jersey Statute, any person or company who shall violate the provisions of this chapter or any supplement thereto shall, upon conviction thereof, be liable for a fine of not more than $1,000. Upon the second or subsequent conviction under this chapter, a person or company shall be subject to a fine of not more than $2,000 or imprisonment for a term not to exceed 90 days, or both.
B. 
In the event a licensee refuses to tow at the scene of the incident or refuses to tow when requested by the owner, the police officer assigned to the incident shall report the refusal in writing to his or her superior with all pertinent details. The report of refusal shall be furnished to the Borough Police Chief as soon as practicable for evaluation of the licensee's performance of its obligation under the license.
A. 
Any license or permit issued by the Borough may be immediately suspended, and then revoked by the Council after notice and a hearing for any of the following causes:
(1) 
Fraud or misrepresentation in any application for a permit or license.
(2) 
Fraud, misrepresentation or other dishonesty in the conduct of the licensed activity.
(3) 
Conviction of the licensee for any felony or high misdemeanor or a misdemeanor or disorderly person's offense involving moral turpitude.
(4) 
Conduct of the licensed activity whether by the licensee himself or herself or his or her agents or employees in contravention of state or federal law, municipal ordinance or in a manner that constitutes a breach of the peace or a menace to the public health, safety or general welfare.
B. 
In addition to the grounds for revocation set forth above, licenses issued hereunder may be revoked by the Borough Council, after notice and hearing, for any violation of this chapter.
A. 
The rates for towing and storage of standard tow vehicles within the Borough of Caldwell are set forth in Schedule A attached hereto.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: The fee schedule is included at the end of this chapter.
B. 
Pursuant to law, the fee schedule may be reviewed on an annual basis and may be revised by ordinance, as necessary.
C. 
Fees for towing and storage of private passenger vehicles shall be the same as those set forth in Subsection A, if a towing operator is requested by the Police Department or the Borough of Caldwell in accordance with this chapter. Any other towing services to private passenger vehicles not involved in accidents or recovered after being stolen when requested privately by individuals shall be at the rates as agreed to between the individual and tower.
D. 
The licensee shall maintain and offer/accept for payment of services rendered a minimum of two major credit cards.
E. 
The licensee shall provide all towing services free of charge to all Borough of Caldwell motor vehicles.
F. 
Storage fees for towed vehicles stored less than a total of 24 hours shall be limited to the maximum fee allowable for one day of storage, whereas each additional day or part thereof shall be counted as a complete day of storage (e.g., one day maximum storage fee applicable if storage begins and ends in less than 24 hours).
G. 
The application of yard fees by licenses under this section, which is defined as the towing company's additional charge to vehicle claimants when other vehicles in the towing company's yard require relocation to access and remove the claimed vehicle, is strictly prohibited. The application of yard fees (or its equivalent) for vehicles towed pursuant to this section shall be grounds for license revocation.
A. 
Fee schedules setting forth the maximum rates for towing and storage of vehicles within the Borough of Caldwell shall be conspicuously displayed in or on every tow truck licensed pursuant to this chapter.
B. 
A copy of the Towing and Storage Fee Schedule shall also be provided by a licensee to every owner of a vehicle that has been towed at the time that the owner reclaims the vehicle. The licensee shall include an acknowledgment on the licensee's invoice, which may be signed or initialed by the vehicle owner, indicating the vehicle owner's receipt of the Towing and Storage Fee Schedule.
A. 
The relationship between a licensee and the Borough of Caldwell is one of an independent contractor. Neither party shall be construed in any manner whatsoever to be an employee of the other, nor shall any employee or agent furnished by any party be construed to be an employee or agent of the other party.
B. 
A licensee shall, at all times, be solely responsible for the conduct of its employees.
The applicant shall agree in writing to assume the defense of and indemnify and hold harmless the Borough, its elected officials, boards, commissions, officers, employees and agents, from all suits, actions, damages or claims to which the Borough may be subjected of any kind and nature whatsoever resulting from, caused by, arising out of or as a consequence of the provisions of towing, wrecking, storage and/or emergency services provided at the request of the Borough pursuant to this chapter. Towing operators shall enter into a hold harmless agreement in a form to be prepared by the Borough Attorney prior to being included on the Towing Operators List.
A. 
In the event a complaint is received by the Borough involving the improper or unsatisfactory performance of services by a towing operator, excessive charges or damage to a motor vehicle while in custody of the tower, written notice of same shall be provided by the Borough Administrator to the towing operator involved. The tower shall have the opportunity to respond, in writing, within five days.
B. 
Within 14 days of receipt of the tower's response, or within 21 days of receipt of the complaint, if no response is received, whichever is later, the matter shall be presented by the Borough Administrator to the Borough Council.
C. 
The Borough Council shall consider the matter at a regular public meeting and may request that the complainant and the tower involved appear and give testimony regarding the complaint.
D. 
If, after considering the matter, the Borough Council shall determine that one of the causes for revocation of the towing operator's license exists, the license shall be revoked and the tower shall surrender same to the Borough Administrator within one day.
E. 
Failure to surrender the license upon revocation shall constitute a violation of this section.
F. 
Nothing contained herein shall prevent or limit the right of any person to commence or maintain an action for damages or any other relief directly against a towing operator in a court of competent jurisdiction.
If any part or parts of this chapter are, for any reason, held to be invalid, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this chapter.
All ordinances or parts of ordinances in conflict with or inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter are hereby repealed, except that this repeal shall not affect or prevent the prosecution or punishment of any person for any act done or committed in violation of any ordinance hereby repealed prior to the taking effect of this chapter.