[HISTORY: Adopted by the Village Council of the Village of Ridgewood 5-9-1994 by Ord. No. 2463. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Vehicles and traffic — See Ch. 265.
For reference purposes, this chapter shall be known as the "Towing, Road Service and Storage of Vehicles Ordinance" of the Village of Ridgewood.
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, on a rotational basis, in 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 Village as being involved in criminal activities.
As used in this chapter, the terms listed below shall be defined as follows:
- APPROVED TOWING OPERATOR
- A person, firm, corporation or partnership engaged in the
business of providing towing services, road service to disabled vehicles,
and storage services of towed vehicles approved by the Village Manager
upon the Chief of Police’s recommendation. The approved towing
operator shall be registered with the New Jersey Division of Consumer
Affairs, and display such registration on all tow vehicles operating
within the Village. Any towing firm not registered with the Division
of Consumer Affairs, or having had its registration suspended or revoked,
shall not be considered an approved towing operator.[Added 3-12-2008 by Ord. No. 3106]
- 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 definitions 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.
- (1) Commercially manufactured chassis, rated capacity of not less than 10,000 pounds GVWR.
- (2) Commercially manufactured lifting apparatus with a minimum capacity of four tons.
- (3) Dual rear wheels.
- (4) Universal tow sling or wheelift with System 7 safety chains.
- (5) One snatch block, three-ton rating.
- (6) Dolly equipped.
- (7) Proper safety lights.
- (8) Amber rotation emergency flashing light.
- (9) Two floodlights to the rear of the vehicle.
- (10) One motorcycle sling.
- (11) Two-way radio.
- (1) Commercially manufactured chassis, rated capacity of not less than 32,900 pounds GVWR.
- (2) Commercially manufactured lifting apparatus with a minimum capacity of 25 tons.
- (3) Two snatch blocks, twelve-ton rating.
- (4) Air brake hookup lines.
- (5) Tow sling/tow bar or wheelift with System 7 safety chains.
- (6) Proper safety lights.
- (7) Amber rotation emergency flashing light.
- (8) Two floodlights to rear of vehicle.
- (9) Two-way radio.
- (1) Commercially manufactured chassis rated no less than 10,000 pounds GVWR.
- (2) One hydraulically powered winch with a pulling capacity of not less than four tons.
- (3) Fifty feet of 3/8 cable.
- (4) Seventeen feet or longer hydraulically operated slide-back or tilt bed.
- (5) One snatch block, four-ton capacity.
- (6) Tie down chains.
- (7) Proper safety lights.
- (8) Amber rotation emergency flashing light.
- (9) Two-way radio.
- 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.
- 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 the Village facility as a result of abandonment, involvement in an accident or suspected criminal activity, or disabled as defined above.
- 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.
- INVESTIGATIVE STORAGE
- Storage of vehicles collected as "investigative tows," at
the direction of the Village Police Department, with storage in a
manner according to "inside building storage facility" conditions.[Added 2-11-2015 by Ord. No. 3457]
- INVESTIGATIVE STORAGE FEE
- The fee charged per 24 hours of "inside building storage
facility" storage or part thereof of any vehicle a towing operator
is directed by the Village of Ridgewood Police Department to collect
and store for any subsequent investigation by any law enforcement
department.[Added 2-11-2015 by Ord. No. 3457]
- INVESTIGATIVE TOW
- Any vehicle that the Village of Ridgewood Police Department
directs a towing operator to collect and store in accordance with
the definition of an "inside building storage facility" for subsequent
investigation in accordance with the law when possibly related to
a criminal matter shall be classified as an "investigative tow."[Added 2-11-2015 by Ord. No. 3457]
- 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 on-site security or an 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 a building or outside secured.
- A person, firm, corporation or partnership who or which owns and/or operates a vehicle on the roads and highways within the Village of Ridgewood, which vehicle, by reason of being disabled or abandoned on the roads and highways of the Village, requires towing and/or storage.
- STORAGE FEE
- The fee charged per 24 hours or any part thereof a towed
vehicle is stored by the towing operator. [Added 3-12-2008 by Ord. No. 3106]
- TOWING OPERATOR
- A person, firm, corporation or partnership engaged in the business of providing towing, road and storage services for vehicles.
- TOW TRUCK DRIVER
- A person who drives or otherwise operates a tow truck or
assists in any activity involving the towing of vehicles.[Added 10-13-1998 by Ord. No. 2644]
The Chief of Police and the Village Manager are hereby designated to administer and enforce all provisions of the Towing, Road Service and Storage of Vehicles Ordinance.
It shall be the responsibility of the Village Manager or his designee, upon recommendation of the Chief of Police, to approve all applications for 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 Village roads when he determines that the following requirements have been met by the applicant. On forms prepared by the Village and provided by the Village Manager or his designee, all towing operators shall submit written documentation that they are in compliance with the qualification requirements set forth below:
Submission of certificate of insurance. All towing operators shall submit a certificate of insurance to the Village Manager. Except for workers' compensation insurance, the insurance certificate shall name the Village, its employees, agents, servants and all subordinate or related boards and commissions as an additional insured. All certificates shall evidence coverage with insurance companies licensed in New Jersey and which have a AM Best Rating of "A" or better. All certificates shall provide that the Village Manager receive 30 days' advance prior written notice from the insurance company in the event of policy cancellation, termination or material change. The certificate shall provide evidence that the towing operator carries the following insurance coverage:
Comprehensive general liability, with a minimum limit of $1,000,000 combined for bodily injury or property damage, including contractual liability coverage for the indemnification obligations of this chapter.
Automobile liability, with a minimum limit of $1,000,000 combined for bodily injury or property damage. Policy to include coverage for towing operations, including garagekeepers, comprehensive and collision coverage for vehicles in care, custody or control of towing operator. Garagekeeper limits to be minimum of $50,000 per vehicle. Towing operator shall also provide at least $10,000 minimum coverage for loss of or damage to contents of vehicles in their care, custody and control.
Excess liability (umbrella form): a minimum two-million-dollar limit combined for bodily injury or property damage.
The towing operators agree that, to the fullest extent permitted by law, they shall defend, indemnify and hold harmless the Village of Ridgewood, its employees, agents, servants and all subordinates or related boards and commissions 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 negligent acts or omissions of the towing operators or any other person directly or indirectly employed by the towing operators while in the performance of rendering any services pursuant to the scope of this chapter.
No tow truck driver, as defined herein, shall drive or otherwise operate a tow truck or assist in any towing activity for an approved towing operator unless such person(s) shall first have obtained a tow truck driver’s annual permit from the Village of Ridgewood. Each driver shall submit an application for an annual permit on forms prepared by the Village and provided by the Village Manager or his or her designee. The Village Manager or his or her designee, upon recommendation of the Chief of Police, or his or her appointed designee, may approve such application.
[Added 10-13-1998 by Ord. No. 2644; amended 5-11-2011 by Ord. No. 3293]
The approved towing operator(s) shall not delegate (subcontract) towing operations in the Village of Ridgewood to a subordinate firm, entity, corporation or partnership without approval of the Chief of Police or his designated representative. Upon notification from the Police Department, the selected approved towing operator shall respond with the appropriate vehicle(s) for the situation. The selected approved towing operator’s vehicles shall display the selected firm’s name on them in accordance with § 258-6, Subsection I.
[Added 3-12-2008 by Ord. No. 3106]
Applications for review to be selected as an approved tow operator shall be accepted January 1 of each year. An application shall be valid for a one-year period, with an annual review and registering of operators and equipment by the Chief of Police or the designated representative for compliance with Chapter 258 of the Code of the Village of Ridgewood.
[Added 3-12-2008 by Ord. No. 3106; amended 5-11-2011 by Ord. No. 3293]
Any person, firm, corporation or partnership operating a towing and storage business shall endeavor to maintain a principal place of operation within the Village as a property taxpayer. In maintaining a principal place of operation within the Village, any person, firm, corporation or partnership operating a towing and storage business shall conform to a legally approved zoning and/or site plan and shall comply fully with all of the Village's zoning, land use and property maintenance codes. Failure to comply with the Village's zoning, land use and development and property maintenance codes may subject any operator to suspension from the rotational duty service list upon request to the Village Manager from the Village's Construction Code Official, Zoning Officer or Property Maintenance Officer. In no event shall the principal place of operation be further than one mile from the border of the Village of Ridgewood.
Nothing herein shall preclude a towing operator from storing its towing vehicles and equipment at another location outside the boundaries of the Village. The storage facility, however, shall be no further than one mile from the border of the Village of Ridgewood.
All towing operators shall have a storage facility which can accommodate a minimum of five 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 indoor and outdoor secured and unsecured storage facilities as defined under § 258-3 of this chapter. The storage facility, however, shall be no further than one mile from the border of the Village of Ridgewood.
In addition to other equipment which is necessary for the safe performance of towing, emergency road and storage services, all towing operators must own and have available at least one conventional tow truck and/or flatbed truck and/or one heavy-duty tow truck. Failure of the towing operator to own or have available at least one heavy-duty tow truck shall not disqualify the owner from being added to the rotation for light-duty towing.
All towing operators' trucks must be equipped with either two-way radio and/or mobile telephone communications equipment with their principal place of business, including their garage, and/or facilities to ensure the proper availability of services and equipment on behalf of the Village and motorists.
All towing operators’ trucks shall be equipped with brooms, shovels, and any other necessary street-sweeping equipment for the purpose of clearing debris off of the roadways. The towing operator shall, at the time of removing any motor vehicle, in response to a Police Department request, remove from the public or private roads or highways any motor vehicle debris or material within the area surrounding the vehicle to be towed. Petroleum product debris or materials, such as oil, gasoline, kerosene, or other petroleum or chemical products, shall be removed by absorptive materials. The absorptive materials shall then be removed and disposed off in a legal and proper manner by the towing operator without additional charge to the Village of Ridgewood.
[Amended 3-12-2008 by Ord. No. 3106]
The towing operators' wrecker(s) and all other vehicles shall be properly licensed and registered with the New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles. All towing operators' vehicles shall display New Jersey commercial license plates.
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.
The towing operators' company name, address and telephone number(s) shall be prominently and permanently displayed on both sides of all wrecker(s) and other towing vehicles.
All towing operators selected to serve on a rotational basis must guarantee the availability of all services to the Village Manager seven days a week, 24 hours a day. In this respect, a towing operator shall immediately respond to any type of towing, emergency road service or storage call with the appropriate vehicle and/or equipment within 20 minutes after receipt of telephone notification from the Police Department's Dispatcher/Desk Officer. Unless heavy or unusual traffic conditions or inclement weather within the Village prevent a towing operator from arriving at the scene within 20 minutes, 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 20 minutes from the time of the call, the Police Department reserves the right to contact the next available towing operator on the rotational list.
In the event the responding approved towing operator cannot remove the vehicle, the Police Department reserves the right to notify the next available approved towing operator on the rotation list. Whenever the responding tow operator cannot remove the vehicle, the tow operator shall forfeit the right to bill the responsible party.
[Added 3-12-2008 by Ord. No. 3106]
In times of emergencies and/or natural disasters, the Village of Ridgewood reserves the right to contact other towing service operators who may not be on the rotational list.
The owner of a vehicle involved in an accident shall have the right, if he/she so desires, to designate a towing operator of his/her choice.
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 services 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 a police officer and/or superior at the scene.
The responding towing operator shall be responsible for the handling and management of any fluid(s) observed to have been discharged from a vehicle, after the Fire Department has secured the scene. All absorbed fluids and absorptive materials utilized for their clean up at a scene, when a vehicle has been requested to be removed, shall become the responsibility of the tow operator.
[Added 3-12-2008 by Ord. No. 3106]
An approved towing operator, when directed by an officer of the Ridgewood Police Department, shall collect any vehicle identified as an "investigative tow," remove it, and store the vehicle as an "investigative storage," keeping said vehicle secure and accessible at all times to law enforcement departments for investigative purposes, until such time that the Village of Ridgewood Police Department authorizes, in writing, the release of the said vehicle.
[Added 2-11-2015 by Ord. No. 3457]
The fees set forth in Chapter 145, Fees, for towing and storage rates are the maximum permitted charges that shall apply to the towing and/or storage of passenger automobiles or other vehicles. Towing operators transporting multiple passenger cars at one time shall receive the applicable fees for each vehicle transported.
It shall be the responsibility of all towing operators to provide all motorists utilizing the towing operators services with a written schedule of fees which lists, in full, all fees to be charged for towing, storage and road service within the Village of Ridgewood. The list shall be presented, in writing, to the motorist prior to the motorist being obligated to utilize the services of the towing operator. Failure to provide the motorist with a written schedule of fees as set forth herein prior to engaging the vehicle shall constitute a violation of the operator's permit. To the extent feasible, fees shall be posted on the vehicle. The written schedule of fees shall be listed in a conspicuous place at the storage yard and at the office of the towing operator. The towing operator shall not exceed the maximum charges set forth on the fee schedule for towing and storage of vehicles regulated under the provisions of this chapter.
[Amended 10-13-1998 by Ord. No. 2644]
The towing and storage fee schedules of all towing operators serving the Village on a rotational basis shall be filed with the Chief of Police and the Village Clerk and shall be made available to any citizen upon request. The fee schedules shall be available at the Village Hall, 131 North Maple Avenue, Ridgewood, Monday through Friday, except holidays, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
In addition, the Chief of Police and the Village Clerk shall be informed, in writing, at least 10 business days prior to the amendment of any towing operator's towing and storage fee charges. Under no circumstances shall any amendments exceed the maximum amounts for towing and storage as described below.
In no instance shall the towing operator request payment from the Village of Ridgewood for any services rendered to the owners of private vehicles, except, however, in those cases where the Police Department authorizes the removal of a Village-owned vehicle or a vehicle that is abandoned or related to criminal activity.
Towing and storage fee schedule. The fees in Chapter 145, Fees, represent the maximum fees permitted under this chapter. It shall be unlawful for any towing operator to charge a fee in excess of the fees prescribed in this chapter for the services regulated herein.
There shall be no premium or surcharge paid for night, weekend, or holiday towing, removal, or storage services other than the rates in Chapter 145, Fees.
[Amended 3-12-2008 by Ord. No. 3106; 5-11-2011 by Ord. No. 3293]
Storage. The fees set forth for storage are the maximum storage charges per twenty-four-hour period that shall apply to a vehicle that is stored as a result of accidents, abandonments, repairs or suspected criminal activities.
Emergency road repair services.
[Amended 5-11-2011 by Ord. No. 3293]
The fees in Chapter 145, Fees, shall be exclusive of any other repair costs provided by the towing operator, including but not limited to such activities as repairing flat tires or installing new and/or spare parts to a disabled vehicle. The towing operator shall be permitted to charge an additional fee based on the towing operator’s prevailing hourly labor rates and charges for parts or materials. Wherever applicable, it shall be the responsibility of the towing operator to first inform the owner of the vehicle of the hourly labor rates and the estimated total cost for parts and/or materials prior to the performance of the road repair services.
Emergency road service shall include jump starts, bringing up to two gallons of fuel, and tire changes. For vehicle lockouts and emergency road service, if a tow results, there will be no charge for the emergency road service or vehicle lockout service, except for the cost of fuel placed in the vehicle.
Heavy-duty wreckers. The maximum fee permitted for heavy-duty towing services shall not exceed the hourly rate in Chapter 145, Fees, at any time or on any day.
Recovery. The maximum fee permitted for the recovery of vehicles of 10,000 pounds and up shall not exceed the hourly rate in Chapter 145, Fees, which rate includes operator and vehicle.
For heavy-duty towing, there shall be no mileage fee charged for removal to the tower’s storage yard.
[Added 5-11-2011 by Ord. No. 3293]
When vehicle towing, removal, and storage services are requested by the Village of Ridgewood Police Department or any other law enforcement agency, for an "investigative tow" with subsequent "investigative storage," the rates established, as set forth in Chapter 145, Fees, shall be discounted to be no more than 60% of the established rate for all classifications of vehicles, all days, evenings, and holidays. All invoices for "investigative tows" or "investigative storage" shall reflect the discount.
[Added 2-11-2015 by Ord. No. 3457]
Annual towing fee adjustment. Approved towing operators shall have the option, effective January 1 of each year, to apply a two-percent annual cost of living adjustment to the established rates set forth in Chapter 145, Fees. Fees shall conform to the requirements of N.J.S.A. 56:13-9 et al. Any approved towing operator requesting to adjust their fees shall submit to the Village Clerk, Village Manager, and Chief of Police their proposed fee changes within 15 calendar days of January 1 of each year. Upon approval of the Village Manager, with the recommendation of the Chief of Police, the approved towing operator can adjust its fees. In the absence of the Village Manager’s approval, the approved towing operator shall not be permitted to adjust its fees.
[Added 5-11-2011 by Ord. No. 3293]
[Amended 3-12-2008 by Ord. No. 3106]
Following the approval of applications by the Village Manager, it shall be the Chief of Police’s responsibility to establish an approved towing operators’ rotational duty service list. The Police Department shall call the towing operators in sequential order as set forth by the Chief so that each approved towing operator will be given the opportunity to respond to individual calls as received by the Village. The Police Department shall have the right to call the next approved towing operator on the list should a towing operator fail to respond to a call within 20 minutes or if the first approved towing operator called cannot be reached by telephone or advises that he is unable to respond. The Chief of Police or his designated representative shall establish the rotational duty service list.
The Chief of Police is hereby authorized to establish reasonable rules and regulations for the supervision, inspection and safe operation of tow trucks, wreckers 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 make certain that the tow trucks and other related vehicles and equipment are maintained in a safe working condition for transporting and hauling disabled vehicles. The Chief or his duly designated representative 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 and transmit from time to time to all towing operators on the rotational list such additional rules and regulations not inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter as may be reasonable and necessary in carrying out the provisions of this chapter.
[Added 10-13-1998 by Ord. No. 2644]
The Chief of Police shall prepare a complaint form. Complaint forms shall be available at the office of the Village Manager, at the Department of Police and at the office of each towing operator. Complaint forms shall also be carried on each towing vehicle and shall be provided to the person owning or operating a disabled vehicle, together with the schedule of fees as provided in § 258-7B. Complaint forms completed and returned to the Department of Police will be investigated by the Department of Police and, upon completion of the investigation, both the towing operator and the vehicle owner shall be apprised of the results of the investigation.
The Chief of Police shall have the power to suspend a towing operator from the rotational duty service list for a period of up to 30 calendar days for failure to comply with any section of this chapter. A subsequent violation may result in the permanent 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 permanent removal. In such cases, an appeal may be filed with the Clerk within 10 business days of the Chief's decision. A hearing shall be held by the Village Manager within 30 business days of the filing. The Village Manager shall render his determination within 20 business days following the conclusion of the hearing. The Village Manager's determination as rendered shall be final and conclusive under this chapter.
In addition, failure to comply with the Village's zoning, land use and property maintenance codes may subject any operator to suspension from the rotational duty service list upon request to the Village Manager from the Village's Construction Code Official/Zoning Officer and/or Property Maintenance Officer. Any towing operator suspended from the rotational duty service list for any violation of the Village's zoning, land use and development and/or property maintenance codes shall have the right to due process and appeal as set forth in Subsection A above.
Any person, firm or corporation who or which willfully violates any of the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be subject to a fine not exceeding $1,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 90 days, or both. Each and every violation of this chapter, or each and every day that any violation shall be permitted to continue, shall be construed as a separate and distinct violation hereof. The Police Department is specifically designated as the enforcement office to serve and execute process for violation of this chapter.