Editor's Note: For authority to establish regulations for the towing and storage of vehicles, see N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.49.
[Ord. No. 18-92, § 1]
The purpose and intent of this chapter is to provide criteria and standard operating procedures that are reasonable, nonexclusionary and nondiscriminatory in the selection and use of towing operators who, on a rotational basis, provide towing, road services and storage 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 or motor vehicle offenses.
[Ord. No. 18-92, § 1]
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 from a 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 which is required to be removed by the police for any other reason. A vehicle, the location of which constitutes a hazard to the motoring public, shall be deemed disabled for the purpose 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 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 (1) or more openings or storage bins for the storage of vehicles and that is secured by a locking device on each bin or opening.
- A person, firm, corporation or partnership who owns and/or operates a vehicle on the roads and highways within the Borough of Morris Plains, which vehicle, by reason of being disabled or abandoned on the roads and highways within the Borough, requires towing and/or storage.
- 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 (6) feet in height and is protected with on-site security or an alarm system.
- 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.
- 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 mean 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.
[Ord. No. 18-92, § 1]
The Chief of Police, his designee and the Police Department of the Borough are hereby designated to administer and enforce all provisions of this chapter.
[Ord. No. 18-92, § 1]
No towing operator shall participate in the police towing rotation list within the Borough without first submitting an application for inclusion on the rotational duty service list to the Chief of Police of the Borough for his approval, together with the application fee set forth in the Fee Schedule of the Borough of Morris Plains, Chapter 2, Sections 2-46, of the Revised Ordinances.
All rotational list approvals issued by the Chief of Police under this chapter shall remain valid for the calendar year or part thereof, and all approvals shall expire on the 31st day of December next succeeding the date of issuance, unless sooner suspended or revoked by the Chief as hereinafter provided. Towing operator rotational list approval may be renewed annually upon submission of an updated application together with the application fee set forth in the Fee Schedule of the Borough, Chapter 2, Section 2-46, of the Revised Ordinances, provided that the towing operator continues to comply with all the terms and conditions of this chapter.
It shall be the responsibility of the Chief of Police or his designee to approve all applications by towing operators for inclusion on the list of 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 Borough roads when the Chief determines that the following requirements have been met by the applicant. On application forms provided by the Chief of Police or his designee, all towing operators shall submit written documentation which demonstrates that they are in compliance with the following qualification criteria:
All towing operators shall have their principal place of business and storage facility located within three (3) miles of the Morris Plains Police Department, Municipal Building, 531 Speedwell Avenue, Morris Plains, New Jersey.
All towing operators shall have a storage facility which can accommodate a minimum of five (5) 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 inside and outside, secured and unsecured storage facilities as defined under Section 27-2 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 or have available at least one (1) conventional tow truck and one (1) flatbed truck.
All towing operators' trucks must be equipped with either two-way radio and/or mobile telephone communications equipment with the towing operator's principal place of business, including their garages and/or facilities, to ensure the proper availability of services and equipment on behalf of the Borough 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's wrecker(s) and all other vehicles shall be properly licensed and registered with the New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles. All towing operator vehicles shall display New Jersey commercial license plates.
The towing operator's company name, address and telephone number(s) shall be prominently and permanently displayed on both sides of all wrecker(s) and other tow vehicles.
All drivers of towing/wrecker vehicles shall have the proper New Jersey driver's license or commercial driver's license as may be appropriate.
Certificate of insurance. All towing operators shall submit a certificate of insurance to the Chief of Police, which certificate shall name the Borough of Morris Plains and the Morris Plains Police Department as additional insureds. The certificate shall provide evidence that the towing operator carries the following insurance coverage:
Comprehensive general liability: coverage in the minimum amount of one million dollars ($1,000,000.) combined single limits.
Automobile liability: coverage in the minimum amount of one million dollars ($1,000,000.) combined single limits. Coverage shall include nonowned and hired automobiles. 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 ten thousand dollars ($10,000.) in minimum coverage per vehicle for any damages or losses arising out of theft of the vehicle's contents, the vehicle itself or losses due to fire or explosion.
Workers' compensation: coverage in accordance with the statutory limits.
Indemnification. The towing operator agrees that to the fullest extent permitted by law, it shall indemnify, defend and hold harmless the Borough from and against any and all claims, suits, judgments and demands whatsoever, including, without limitation, costs, 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 acts or omissions of the towing operator or any other person directly or indirectly employed by the towing operator while in the performance or rendering of any services pursuant to this chapter.
[Ord. No. 18-92, § 1]
All towing operators on the rotational duty service list shall comply fully with all applicable zoning and land use ordinances and/or property maintenance codes.
Nothing herein shall preclude a towing operator from storing its towing vehicles and equipment at a location outside the boundaries of the Borough.
All vehicles towed under this chapter must be taken to the listed storage area immediately after being picked up.
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, 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 Borough of Morris Plains or the vehicle owner.
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.
All outside storage facilities shall maintain adequate lighting to protect stored vehicles from vandalism.
All towing operators serving on the rotational duty service list must guarantee the availability of all services to the Police Department seven (7) days a week, twenty-four (24) hours a day. An approved towing operator shall respond to any type of towing, emergency road service or storage call with the appropriate vehicle and/or equipment within twenty (20) minutes after receipt of telephone notification from the Morris Plains Police Department Dispatcher/Desk Officer. 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 twenty (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 Borough reserves the right to contact other towing operators who may not be on the rotational duty service list.
The owner of a vehicle to be towed shall have the right, if he/she so desires, to designate a towing operator of his/her choice, provided that the response time of said towing operator is not greater than twenty (20) minutes or when approved by the investigating officer.
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 the investigating officer or superior at the scene.
[Ord. No. 18-92, § 1]
The fees for towing and storage of vehicles under this chapter are set forth in the Fee Schedule of the Borough of Morris Plains, Chapter 2, Section 2-46, of the Revised Ordinances, and the rates set forth therein are the maximum permitted charges that shall apply to the towing and/or storage of passenger automobiles, except to the extent that the same are regulated by the New Jersey Department of Insurance pursuant to N.J.S.A. 17:33B-47. Towing operators transporting multiple passenger vehicles at one (1) time shall receive the applicable fees for each passenger vehicle transported.
It shall be the responsibility of the towing operator to provide all motorists utilizing the towing operator's services with a written schedule of fees which lists in full all fees charged for towing, storage and road service within the Borough. Towing operators shall not exceed the maximum charges set forth on the fee schedule for towing and the storage of vehicles regulated under this chapter.
The towing and storage fee schedule of each towing operator on the rotational duty service list shall be filed by the towing operator with the Chief of Police and the Borough Clerk, and the same shall be made available to any person upon request. The fee schedules shall be available at the Municipal Building, located at 531 Speedwell Avenue, Morris Plains, Mondays through Fridays, except holidays, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
In addition, the Chief of Police shall be informed in writing at least ten (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 set forth in the Fee Schedule.
In no instance shall the towing operator request payment from the Borough for any services rendered to the owners of private vehicles, except, however, in those cases where the Police Department authorizes the removal of a Borough-owned vehicle or a vehicle that is related to criminal activity.
[Ord. No. 18-92, § 1]
It shall be the responsibility of the Chief of Police to establish a towing operators' rotational duty service list following approval of applications. 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 required by the Borough. 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 twenty (20) minutes.
[Ord. No. 18-92, § 1]
The Chief of Police is hereby authorized to establish reasonable rules and regulations for the supervision, inspection and safe operation of towing/wrecker vehicles and other related vehicles and equipment in accordance with the standards outlined in this chapter. The Chief shall maintain due vigilance over all towing operators to ensure that the towing/wrecker vehicles and other related vehicles are maintained in a safe working condition for transporting and hauling disabled vehicles. The Chief of Police, or his designee, 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 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 from time to time, and transmit to all towing operators on the rotational list, such additional rules and regulations not inconsistent herewith as may be reasonable and necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter.
[Ord. No. 18-92, § 1]
The Chief of Police shall have the power to suspend a towing operator from the rotational duty service list for a period up to thirty (30) calendar days for failure to comply with any section of this chapter. A subsequent violation may result in the 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 twelve-month removal. In such cases, an appeal shall be filed with the Borough Clerk within ten (10) business days of the Chief's decision. A hearing shall be held by the Borough Council within thirty (30) business days of the filing. The Borough Council shall render its determination within twenty (20) business days following the conclusion of the hearing. The Borough Council's determination as rendered shall be final and conclusive under this chapter.
In addition, failure to comply with applicable zoning and land use ordinances and/or property maintenance codes may subject any towing operator to suspension from the rotational duty service list upon request to the Chief of Police from the appropriate Construction Code Official, Zoning Officer and/or Property Maintenance Officer. Any towing operator suspended from the rotational duty service list for any violation of applicable zoning or land use ordinances and/or property maintenance code shall have the right to due process and appeal as set forth in Paragraph (a) above.
Any person, firm or corporation who violates any of the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be subject to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000.) or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ninety (90) days, or both. Each and very violation of this chapter and each and every day that any violation shall continue shall be construed as a separate and distinct violation. The Police Department is specifically designated as the enforcement agency which shall serve and execute process for violations of this chapter in accordance with law.