[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township of Washington (now Township of Robbinsville) by Ord. No. 2002-20 (§ 4-6 of the 2001 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
It is the purpose of this chapter:
To establish a uniform policy for the handling of certain motor vehicles towed and/or stored in the Township of Robbinsville by towers on the Official Tower List (OTL) pursuant to requests of the Township Police Department.
To assure that, in the interest of public safety, the public receives the best possible service and that only qualified tow truck owners/operators will be included on the OTL.
To assure proper storage of vehicles for the purpose of investigation, impoundment, or release of such vehicles to the proper owner, agent or authority.
To establish a requirement and procedure for licensing of individuals and entities who desire to be included on the OTL.
To establish maximum fees for towing and storage services pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.49 and 40A:11-5(1)(u).
The provisions of this chapter shall apply only when a tower on the OTL is responding to a call initiated by the Robbinsville Township Police Department.
This chapter shall apply to all motor vehicle towing and storage operations within the Township of Robbinsville, which occur at the initiation of the Township Police Department. Nothing herein limits the rights of the owner or operator of a motor vehicle to request or summon a tow operator of his or her own choosing or a tow operator from another municipality, unless a Township police officer at the scene determines that the operator to be summoned cannot arrive at the scene within the time limit specified in § 237-12 hereof, or does not have the proper equipment to clear the scene, pursuant to subsection § 237-14 hereof, and the safety of persons and motorists may be jeopardized thereby.
When used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- CHIEF OF POLICE
- The head of the Robbinsville Township Police Department or his/her designee.
- DOLLY, WINCHING, OR SIMILAR PROCEDURE
- Any operation in which a vehicle is moved onto a roadway
from a position off the roadway or any other operation in which substantial
work is required to prepare a vehicle for normal towing. "Dolly, winching,
or similar procedure" includes righting a motor vehicle that is on
its side or upside-down. "Dolly, winching, or similar procedure" does
not include the standard pulling of a vehicle onto a tilt-bed carrier
or lifting a vehicle with a conventional tow sling or tow cable.[Added 8-28-2020 by Ord. No. 2020-21]
- OFFICIAL TOWER LIST (also known as "OTL")
- A list to be maintained by the Township Police Department containing the names of those who have qualified for inclusion on that list of licensed towers authorized to respond to calls initiated by the Police Department for the towing of vehicles.
- Any person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company, or organization of any kind.
- TOW COMMITTEE
- Shall consist of the Chief of Police, Police Administrator,
and the Traffic Supervisor. The Tow Committee may make recommendations
for changes, if any, to the Director of Public Safety. The Director
of Public Safety shall then take appropriate action.[Amended 8-2-2018 by Ord. No. 2018-26]
- TOW VEHICLE or TOW TRUCK
- Those vehicles equipped with a boom or booms, winches, slings, tilt bed, wheel lifts or under-reach equipment specifically designed by their manufacturer for the removal or transport of motor vehicles, and any other vehicle driven by mechanical power, including flatbed vehicles employed for the purpose of towing, transporting, conveying, and/or removing motor vehicles, which are unable to be and actually are not operated under their own power, from one place to another for which a fee or charge is exacted.
- TOWER, TOW TRUCK OPERATOR or TOW OPERATOR
- A person engaged in the business of or offering the services of a tow vehicle or tow truck and storage services.
- The Township of Robbinsville, County of Mercer, State of New Jersey.
No person shall be included on the OTL without first obtaining a license therefor. Nothing herein shall require licensing for the rendering of road service other than towing or storage.
Any person who wishes to engage in the business of towing or storing of motor vehicles in the Township at police request, pursuant to the Official Tower List, shall submit an application for a towing and storage license, in duplicate, to the Chief of Police, on forms provided by the Police Department. The application shall state the following:
The full name and address of the applicant. If the application is made for a corporation, it shall state the name and address of the officers and directors thereof.
The year, make, and type of each tow vehicle used in the business, their VIN number, registration number and registered owner. Each official tower must have at least two tow vehicles available for use in the towing of vehicles as authorized by the Police Department.
The address where the tow vehicles shall be regularly garaged, the telephone number (available on a twenty-four-hour-a-day basis for OTL purposes), the names of all operators and their New Jersey motor vehicle driver's license numbers.
The location, size, number of storage parking spaces, and security features of the storage lot on which towed vehicles shall be stored.
The name and address of the insurance carrier and agent and the policy numbers of all required insurance policies. Specific insurance requirements are set forth in § 237-10.
A certification of the fees and that the procedures required in this chapter shall be observed at all times.
A certification that tow vehicles are equipped with two-way radios or cellular phones and that the requirements of § 237-15 shall be met.
A statement that the Chief of Police or his designee may, at any reasonable time, conduct an inspection of the tow vehicles or storage lot of any applicant or licensee for the purpose of determining compliance with this chapter.
A certification from the applicant stating that for services rendered, the applicant shall accept in payment either cash, a check issued by an insurance company, a valid debit card or valid major credit card or charge card, except that debit cards, credit cards or charge cards do not have to be accepted for impounded vehicles. In connection with acceptance of a debit card, credit card or charge card, the applicant shall be permitted to request additional identification, as determined by the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, before proceeding with repairs or towing. Unless the motorist in unable to produce such identification, or the applicant has a bona fide reason to believe the card or other identification is fictitious, altered, stolen, expired or revoked or not valid for any other cause or is clearly offered with intent to defraud the issuer, the debit card, charge card or credit card shall be deemed an acceptable form of payment in lieu of cash if the operator ordinarily accepts the card at his place of business. Nothing herein, however, shall preclude the applicant from accepting payment in the form of check or money order, if this form of payment is acceptable to the applicant.
[Added 11-11-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-30]
A certification from the applicant stating that the towing company is registered with the New Jersey State Motor Vehicle Commission for the purpose of public auction of abandoned vehicles and that the company is in compliance with all applicable state laws.
[Added 11-11-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-30]
After receiving an application for a license, the Chief of Police, or his designee shall conduct or cause to be conducted an investigation to determine the following:
The truth and accuracy of all information contained in the application.
Whether the applicant and all employees are fit and proper persons to conduct the proposed business.
Whether the applicant has demonstrated, by its equipment and the location of its business, the ability to respond in the manner required in this chapter.
Whether the equipment is in thoroughly safe and sound condition and complies with the standards of this chapter, as well as any applicable provisions of the New Jersey statutes and rules.
Whether the proposed storage area is legally zoned for such use.
Whether the applicant has proof of ownership or valid agreement for use of the storage area.
The Chief of Police, or his designee, shall conduct or review the investigation and approve or deny the application within 30 days of his/her receipt of same.
Issuance, expiration and renewal of license. Upon approval of the application, and upon compliance by the applicant with § 237-10 of this chapter in connection with insurance, the Chief of Police or his designee shall issue an official tower license to the applicant. All licenses shall expire two years after the date of issuance. A renewal application shall be submitted no later than 30 days prior to the expiration date. Renewal applications shall be obtained from the office of the Chief of Police.
[Amended 8-2-2018 by Ord. No. 2018-26]
Contents of license. The license shall contain the name and address of the licensee, the license number, the date of issuance and that the license was not secured by fraud or by the concealment of a material fact by the applicant, which fact, if known, would have caused the disapproval of the license.
Grounds for suspension/termination. In accordance with procedures, a license may be suspended or terminated under the following circumstances:
When it is found that the licensee has violated any of the requirements or regulations established by this chapter, including maximum fee limitations, any additional regulations established by the Chief of Police, or any federal or state law or other municipal ordinance relating to the operation of a motor vehicle.
Unsatisfactory service which, in the reasonable opinion of the Chief of Police, has, does or will jeopardize the public safety.
Unethical or fraudulent business practices in connection with towing, storage or repairs.
Transferability. A license issued under this chapter shall not be transferable.
[Amended 8-2-2018 by Ord. No. 2018-26]
The following procedures shall apply in the event the Tow Committee, as designated by the Director of Public Safety, determines to deny, suspend or terminate an application for an official tower license or, as a result of observation by one or more members of the Police Department, or upon receipt of one or more complaints, that improper or unsatisfactory performance of service has been rendered by a licensee, including but not limited to excessive charges or damage to a motor vehicle while in the custody of the licensee or failure to respond within the time required in § 237-12.
The Director of Public Safety, or his/her designee, shall provide written notification to the licensee or applicant of the acts complained of or the reason for the denial of the application.
The licensee or applicant shall have five days to request in writing a hearing before the Tow Committee. If such a hearing is requested, the hearing shall be held no more than 15 days after the receipt by the Tow Committee of the request for same. If the Tow Committee determines that it is in the best interest of the public health, safety and welfare, the Tow Committee may suspend the licensee from the OTL pending the outcome of the hearing or appeal after such a hearing.
If the applicant or licensee is dissatisfied with the result of the hearing before the Tow Committee, the applicant shall have five days to request in writing a hearing before the Chief of Police. If such a hearing is requested, the hearing shall be held no more than 30 days after receipt by the Chief of Police of the request for same.
The Director of Public Safety, or his/her designee, shall convene a meeting at which he shall consider the matter and may request that the licensee or applicant and, if applicable, the complainant, appear and give testimony regarding the matter. The applicant or licensee may be represented by an attorney if desired; however, the proceedings before the Director of Public Safety, or his/her designee, shall be informal and the rules of evidence and court rules shall not apply.
If the Director of Public Safety, or his/her designee, determines that cause for revocation or suspension of a license or application exists, written notice shall be sent to the party no later than 10 days after completion of the hearing. Suspension or revocation shall be effective immediately.
In case of revocation of a license, failure to surrender the license within one day of delivery of the final written decision to the licensee shall constitute a violation of this chapter.
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 licensee in a court of competent jurisdiction.
Every licensee shall carry the following insurance:
Comprehensive automobile liability in the amount not less than $1,000,000 combined single limits.
Workers' compensation as required by New Jersey law.
Garage keepers' liability in an amount not less than $60,000 covering fire, theft, explosion and collision.
Garage liability in an amount not less than $1,000,000 combined single limits.
Endorsements to provide for collision coverage for vehicles while in possession of the tow operator.
Comprehensive general liability coverage in an amount not less than $1,000,000 for each person and $3,000,000 for each accident.
Endorsement naming the Township of Robbinsville as an additional insured in all insurance policies (except workers' compensation policy). Said endorsement shall specifically incorporate reference to the insurance and indemnification requirements of this chapter.
All licensees shall hold harmless and indemnify the Township, its officers, employees and agents, from any and all liability claims, losses or damages arising or alleged to arise from the performance of the towing services requested and/or rendered by the licensee, including any liability which may arise from the licensee's disposal of hazardous materials.
All insurance policies shall be written by insurance companies acceptable to the Township and authorized to do business in the State of New Jersey.
No license shall be issued until an applicant has deposited with the Tow Committee certificates of insurance evidencing the required insurance coverage and endorsements. All certificates must provide for 30 days' prior written notice to the Township of policy cancellation or material change.
Copies of the actual insurance policies, with all required endorsements, must be provided to the Tow Committee upon request.
No licensee shall be included on the OTL in the Township of Robbinsville unless the required insurance coverage is in place and has been approved by the Tow Committee.
The certificates of insurance required herein shall be provided to the Tow Committee on an annual basis.
[Amended by Ord. No. 2003-2]
The Tow Committee shall maintain the list of names of those towers who have been licensed for inclusion on the Official Tow List (OTL).
Calls to towers on the OTL shall be made on a nonexclusionary and nondiscriminatory rotating basis, pursuant to procedures deemed by the Tow Committee to be both equitable to the towers and responsive to the public safety needs of the community.
The OTL will consist of no more than two active tow companies at any given time.
[Amended 6-26-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-23; 8-2-2018 by Ord. No. 2018-26]
Towers applying for licenses must have their office, storage area, and tow trucks within three miles of the Township line.
[Amended 7-29-2016 by Ord. No. 2016-22]
Towers shall be in compliance with the state affirmative action statutes and rules.
Towers must be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Tower shall confirm that it is an independent contractor and does not represent or act for the Township in any way.
Towers on the OTL recognize that the standards and procedures set forth in this chapter shall apply when revocation of a tower's inclusion on the OTL is recommended by the Tow Committee, provided that the Tow Committee may suspend the tower from inclusion on this list, pending the outcome of a requested hearing.
The Township shall not be liable for the cost of any services performed by the tower unless those services are performed for or on a municipal vehicle. Payment for towing services to nonmunicipal vehicles shall be a matter solely between the tower and the motor vehicle owner or operator, except vehicles impounded in conjunction with a criminal investigation.
All towers on the OTL must perform emergency road service when so requested by the Robbinsville Township Police Department. The fees charged for service shall be in accordance with this chapter.
Nothing in this chapter shall preclude the right of a motorist or vehicle owner to summon a tow operator of his or her own choosing, pursuant to the provisions of § 137-2 of this chapter.
Nothing herein shall prohibit the Township from calling a tower out of sequence or seeking the service of a tower not on the OTL if the nature of the situation requires specialized equipment, or if proximity to the scene or estimated response time make it practical or necessary to do so in the interest of public safety.
In the event that a tower on call fails to respond as required in this chapter, or is for any reason unavailable, the next tower on the OTL shall be called.
The fee to be charged to an owner or operator of a motor vehicle when services are rendered do not include towing or storage and shall be a matter to be determined by the licensed tower and the owner or operator; provided, however, such fees shall be reasonable.
When a Township police officer is at the scene of an incident requiring towing services, said police officer shall be responsible for making the final determination as to when towing shall take place. The officer shall not be limited to the OTL when it is clear that special towing equipment is required for large vehicles and/or public safety may be threatened by vehicles requiring removal.
All tow vehicles must be equipped with amber beacons or strobe lights, and amber-colored safety tow lights or magnetic tow lights for towing vehicles at night, all as approved by the Tow Committee, and as permitted by the State of New Jersey.
All tow vehicles must be equipped with a fire extinguisher of the "ABC" type, safety chains, flares, jumper cables, shovel, pry bar, heavy-duty stiff push brooms, warning lights, substance for handling small liquid spills, and other necessary equipment to provide complete towing services to vehicles up to 3/4 ton. All such equipment is subject to approval by the Tow Committee.
Each tow operator, prior to departure from the scene of towing services, shall clean and clear any customary or usual debris from an accident. Each tow operator shall also clean, clear, absorb, or dilute any usual oil, gasoline or other motor vehicle fluid spill at the scene of the towing services. All materials disposed of by a tow operator shall be properly disposed of in accordance with the requirements of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the Federal Environmental Protection Agency. Nothing in this chapter shall prevent the Robbinsville Township Police Department from summoning any other person, if an unusual or potentially dangerous situation occurs or it is otherwise necessary to do so. Such situations include, but are not limited to, accidents or breakdowns involving dangerous or potentially dangerous cargo, or spills of chemicals, solvents or other fluids.
Tow operators shall comply with the directions of the police investigator in connection with vehicles involved in suspected crimes.
No tow operator shall tow any vehicle which has been or appears to have been involved in an accident or operated so as to have left the travelway, without notifying the Robbinsville Township Police Department.
No reward, gratuity, gift or any type of remuneration shall be offered to any Robbinsville Township police officer, Township official or communications officer by any tow operator or his/her employee or agent.
Any person wishing to complain about alleged lack of compliance with these regulations by any licensed tow operator in the Township may do so in writing or in person to the Tow Committee, setting forth the name of the tow operator, the date of the incident(s), and the details of the act. The Tow Committee shall investigate the complaint and respond to the complainant as appropriate.
[Amended 8-2-2018 by Ord. No. 2018-26]
All licensees shall maintain for a period of at least one year or until release, whichever is greater, written or computerized records of all vehicles towed, stored, and released, and all services rendered.
No tower may respond to the scene of an accident or emergency for the purpose of towing vehicles unless specifically called there by the police or person involved in the accident or emergency. This section is intended to prohibit tow operators from soliciting business at the scenes of accidents and emergencies and shall not be construed to prohibit any person from summoning a tow operator of his or her choice in accordance with § 237-2 of this chapter.
The Chief of Police is hereby authorized and empowered to update and supplement regulations, not inconsistent with this chapter, as may be reasonable and necessary in order to carry out the provisions of this chapter and to best serve the interest of public safety. Such additional rules and regulations shall be approved by the governing body and provided immediately to all licensed tow operators who shall sign and acknowledge receipt of same and which acknowledgment shall constitute an amendment to the agreement provided for in § 237-7. Such rules and regulations may include, but not be limited to, the following:
Details of recordkeeping requirements.
OTL rotation procedures.
Preparation of forms.
Procedures at the scene of an accident or emergency.
Procedures for and scheduling of inspection of tow vehicles and storage facilities.
Procedures for release of motor vehicles.
All title applications, subject to the requirements of New Jersey statutes and rules.
[Amended 6-26-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-23]
Delegation of responsibilities to specific officers or positions by the Chief of Police.
[Amended 11-11-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-30]
All vehicles towed must be removed to an approved storage facility unless the owner or operator of the vehicle specifically requests that it be towed to another place and a police officer at the scene does not direct otherwise. The approved storage facility is required to be open to the public at least six days in a calendar week and at least 40 hours in that week, excluding weeks that contain New Jersey State holidays. An employee is required to be at the storage yard during these hours, unless the employee is out on a towing assignment. The business hours of operation are to be posted in a conspicuous location.
The fees provided in Chapter 109, Fees, are established for basic towing and storage services rendered for motor vehicles when the request is initiated by the Township police. Vehicles up to 10,000 pounds are considered a light tow (passenger cars, sport utility vehicles, light trucks, and vans). Vehicles 10,001 to 16,000 pounds are considered medium tow. Vehicles 16,001 pounds and above are considered heavy tow.
[Amended 8-2-2018 by Ord. No. 2018-26]
In the event removal of a vehicle requires use of a dolly, winching, or similar procedure, any additional charges must be consistent with the reasonable and customary charges for such services in the Mercer County/Burlington County area.
The fees provided in Chapter 109, Fees, are hereby established for each twenty-four-hour period for storage of motor vehicles.
Prior to hookup or flatbed towing of a motor vehicle, the tower shall present a copy of the fee schedule (as set forth in §§ 237-34 and 237-25) to the owner of the vehicle if requested. The fee schedule shall also contain the name, address, and telephone number of the tower, the hours of operation, and a statement of when the motor vehicle may be claimed. The fee schedule shall also be prominently displayed at the storage facility.
This chapter shall be enforced by the Chief of Police and/or his designated Tow Committee.
Any person who shall violate any of the provisions of this chapter shall be subject to rejection or suspension of his/her tow operator license. In addition, the general penalty provisions of the New Jersey Consumer Frauds Act (N.J.S.A. 56:8 et seq.) shall apply.