[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Middletown 7-28-1993 by Ord. No. 93-2337 (Ch. 248 of the 1996 Township Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
Vehicles and traffic — See Ch. 465.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The operation of an unengaged wrecker along the public streets in any fashion intended, likely or calculated to solicit business.
- Person, firm or corporation who owns and/or operates a vehicle on the roads and highways within the Township of Middletown, which vehicle, by reason of being disabled or being unlawfully upon said roads, requires towing services.
- TOWING OPERATOR
- A person, firm or corporation engaged in the business of providing wrecker service and storage services for vehicles towed, which services are made available to the general public upon rates, charges and fees.
- Trucks, cars, motorcycles, minibikes, mopeds or power-driven apparatus.
- 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, for which a service charge or fee is exacted.
No towing operator shall operate within the Township of Middletown without obtaining a license in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
Specifically exempted from this license requirement are towing operators engaged solely in the towing, transporting, conveying or removing from private property within the Township or those directly and privately engaged or designated by the owner of the vehicle to be towed, transported, conveyed or removed.
Equipment requirements. No license shall be issued to a towing operator who does not possess, for use in this business, the following equipment, which equipment shall be inspected by the Chief of Police or his authorized representative prior to the issuance of a license:
Wrecking vehicle. Each towing operator must have available a professionally constructed wrecking vehicle, capable of performing all towing or roadway clearance tasks assigned by the Township.
Safety equipment. Each vehicle shall have a beacon and warning lights, adequate illumination of the towed vehicle, stop lights and portable fire extinguishers.
Specialized equipment. At least one of the available tow trucks must be equipped for dolly service and winching.
Cleanup equipment. All trucks must carry road cleanup equipment and supplies, including shovels, brooms, rakes and trash cans.
At least one flatbed or car carrier with at least one-car capacity.
Mobile radio. Tow trucks must be equipped with mobile radio, at the owner's expense, capable of enabling the Police Department to contact or direct them at a scene.
A towing operator must be able to report to a disabled vehicle's position in no more than 20 minutes.
Disabled vehicle storage. Each licensed towing operator must operate a suitable and secure vehicle storage yard, located within the Township, having a capacity of at least 15 standard-sized automobiles. The yard must be adjacent to or part of the towing operator's regular commercial business, which must be in operation at least six days a week during working hours. The storage yard and the commercial business must satisfy the applicable Township ordinances in all respects. Authorized personnel with the Department of Police will have twenty-four-hour access to vehicles within the authorized service storage yard seven days a week.
All towing operators and their employees shall be fully trained and knowledgeable in the operation of all required equipment and shall be subject to background investigations by the Middletown Township Police Department.
All towing operators must be available for service on a twenty-four-hour basis, seven days per week, without exception, unless authorized by the Chief of Police.
All towing operators shall maintain and produce proof of the following insurance coverage to the Township Clerk, naming the Township thereon as an additional insured on each policy: garage keeper's liability policy in the amount of $300,000 for any one claimant and $1,000,000 for more than one claimant, with coverage of $100,000 for property damage for any one event.
Any towing operator on the Township call list agrees to indemnify and hold the Township harmless against any claims arising out of the towing operator's work which is found to be negligently performed. Included shall be legal fees and costs and expenses incurred.
[Amended 12-20-2004 by Ord. No. 2004-2805]
Licenses issued pursuant to this chapter shall be for a term of one calendar year, January 1 to December 31.
The Chief of Police is authorized to establish a rotating call list for towing service for the Township or to be called by a member of the Police Department in the event that the owner or driver of a disabled vehicle is unable to or fails to indicate any specific choice of towing operator to remove the disabled vehicle. A current copy of the call list shall be available for inspection by the public at the office of the Township Clerk and the Police Department.
To be eligible for inclusion in the call list, a towing operator must:
Hold a current and valid towing operator's license issued under the terms of this chapter.
Be owned or operated by a person, firm, partnership, association or corporation engaged in the business of operating a towing service within the Township.
Comply with the requirements of § 453-3D(3) hereof that the requisite insurance policies specifically name the Township as an insured party.
Be able to report to a disabled vehicle's position no more than 20 minutes from the time of notification by a Police Department dispatcher.
The Chief of Police may make such reasonable regulations concerning the call list as are necessary to expedite and facilitate the rendition of services described herein, including such procedures which ensure that all towing operators on the call list are summoned on a nondiscriminatory basis in rotating order. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Chief of Police or his designee may adopt such equitable and reasonable procedures as he deems necessary to take into account the fact that not all towing operators appearing on the call list have the mechanical capability of responding to and dealing with all conditions and types of disabled vehicles. In the case of a disabled vehicle obstructing traffic or likely to create a traffic hazard, the police officer in charge shall have the right to summon a towing operator from the call list, notwithstanding the expressed desire of the owner or operator of the disabled vehicle that a specific towing operator requested will not be able to respond to the call in sufficient time.
[Added 12-20-2004 by Ord. No. 2004-2805]
The towing and storage contractor will meet the following response performance standards:
Ninety percent of all calls referred will be answered (towing vehicle on scene) within the response time outlined above.
Not more than 10% of the calls will be answered within an additional 10 minutes (day or night).
No response will be later than 25 minutes, whether day or night, with the exception of large vehicle responses.
The performance standard will be reviewed periodically. Where the towing contractor performance record is found to be unsatisfactory, the contractor may, upon written notice, be subject to removal from the call list until it shall have provided satisfactory evidence to the Chief of Police that it has undertaken effective steps and implemented such procedures as are necessary to meet the foregoing performance standards. Upon written request after such notice of removal, the contractor shall be entitled to a hearing on the removal before the Chief or his designee.
No towing operator shall engage in cruising as defined in this chapter.
No towing operator shall solicit or attempt to divert patrons of another towing operator, whether or not licensed under this chapter, nor shall a towing operator solicit or divert prospective patrons of a given repair service to any other repair service.
The governing body hereby designates the Police Department generally, and the Chief of Police particularly, as the supervising authority to enforce the provisions of this section as well as the rules and regulations adopted hereunder.
Prior to license renewal and again during the month of March, each towing operator licensed under this section shall be inspected by the Chief of Police or his designee for fitness.
Each licensed towing operator at all times shall maintain and carry the necessary equipment to remove disabled or locked vehicles or equipment necessary to operate or open vehicles to enable public safety personnel to remove entrapped passengers.
Each towing operator, prior to departure from the scene where it performed towing services, shall clean and clear the streets of any customary debris resulting from any accident at such scene and shall at all times carry the necessary equipment to perform such cleaning services.
No towing operator, licensed under this chapter or otherwise, shall respond to the scene of an accident except upon the request of the driver or owner of the vehicles involved or except upon notification by the channel of communication established by the Police Department to notify licensed towing operators of the necessity of their presence. The officer investigating accidents which require towing service shall get authorization, in writing, on forms provided by the Police Department from the driver or owner of the cars when an unlicensed towing service is to be engaged.
Refusal to tow at the scene of the towing and the type of car refused shall be reported by the police officer assigned to the incident to his superior. The report of refusal shall be furnished to the Chief of Police and the Township Clerk as soon as practicable.
Towing operators shall arrive at the scene to which dispatched within a reasonable time after being dispatched. Under normal circumstances, such reasonable time limit is defined as within 20 minutes.
When any unusual situation occurs which may be dangerous to the safety of the public, such as dangerous cargo, solvents, fluids, natural gas, etc., the most qualified towing operator will be selected by the Middletown Township Police Department.
Where no designation has been made, licensed towing operators are authorized to remove the vehicle to the towing operator's place of business.
Where vehicles are towed to premises controlled by the Police Department for the purpose of utilizing the vehicle or its contents as evidence, or for other purposes, such vehicle shall not be released from police custody unless the owner of the vehicle furnishes the Police Department with a receipt that towing service fees have been paid.
In all cases where cars are to be towed for illegal parking, summonses for such offenses shall be issued prior to towing.
No towing operator operating under the license issued hereunder shall employ directly or indirectly any personnel or employees of the Township of Middletown.
The Middletown Township Police Department shall maintain a log record of calls to licensed towing operators under this chapter. Said record shall be available for inspection by any licensed towing operator upon reasonable notice.
The authorized towing operator shall not charge any towing or storage fee for vehicles which have been ordered impounded by the Police Department as a result of an investigation, nor shall the authorized towing operator release said vehicles until notice has been given by the Police Department.
No license issued pursuant to this chapter shall be transferable, and, upon cessation of activity under the license through revocation or otherwise, the license shall be determined null and void.
Such additional rules and regulations as may be promulgated shall take effect after notification of such rules and regulations upon all holders of licenses for towing operators. Service shall be made by forwarding these rules and regulations, by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the licensee at the address listed in his most recent application.
The Township Administrator shall have the right to suspend or revoke any license issued under this chapter for good cause upon written complaint of the Chief of Police. 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 Township Administrator prior to final determination of the complaint.
Every person, firm, partnership or corporation found guilty of violating any of the provisions of this chapter may, in addition to the suspension or revocation of the license as provided for herein, be subject to the penalties provided in § 1-4 of this Code.
[Amended 8-4-1997 by Ord. No. 97-2479]
The maximum rates fixed in Chapter 240, Fees, shall apply to the towing and storage of all passenger vehicles except those exempted pursuant to N.J.S.A. 17:33B-47 et seq. and N.J.A.C. 11:3-38.1 et seq. as well as to all non-passenger vehicles not exceeding three tons in weight. In the case of services rendered to other types of vehicles, or services of a nature beyond basic towing services as defined in Chapter 240, Fees, or services other than covered by basic rate, or services rendered in extraordinary cases involving unusual conditions, the rate to be charged shall be fair and reasonable based on the location, the length of time, the number of men and machinery involved and the difficulty of the job.