Township of Falls, PA
Bucks County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of Falls Township 10-11-2005 by Ord. No. 2005-7;[1] amended in its entirety 6-19-2007 by Ord. No. 2007-3. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Licensed businesses — See Ch. 145.
Streets and sidewalks — See Ch. 188.
Vehicles and traffic — See Ch. 203.
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance superseded former Ch. 206, Wreckers, adopted 6-13-1985 by Ord. No. 85-3, as amended.

§ 206-1 Short title.

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Falls On-Call Wrecker Ordinance."

§ 206-2 Word usage; definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms, phrases, words and their derivations shall have the meanings given herein. When not inconsistent with the context, words used in the present tense include the future, words in the plural number include the singular number, and the words in the singular number include the plural number. The word "shall" is always mandatory and not merely directory.
HEAVY TOW TRUCK
Any motor vehicle capable of towing a vehicle having a gross vehicle weight rating, gross combination weight rating, registered combination weight or actual gross weight of 26,000 pounds or more.
[Amended 11-15-2011 by Ord. No. 2011-07]
ON-CALL
Refers to those wreckers licensed under this chapter who alone will be called to accidents occurring in Falls Township by the Falls Township Police Department and shall be available for any towing required by Falls Township itself, except as specifically provided in this chapter to the contrary.
PERSON
Any individual, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company or organization of any kind that has a place of business and a fenced storage area in Falls Township providing services of a wrecker. A wrecker holding a current license issued by Falls Township on the effective date of this ordinance amendment shall be deemed a "person."
STANDARD TOW TRUCK
Any motor vehicle capable of towing a vehicle having a gross vehicle weight rating, gross combination weight rating, registered combination weight or actual gross weight of less than 26,000 pounds.
[Amended 11-15-2011 by Ord. No. 2011-07]
TOWNSHIP
The Township of Falls, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
TOW TRUCK
Both "standard tow truck" and "heavy tow truck" are as defined herein.
WRECKER
A person or any other legal entity engaged in the business of offering the services of a vehicle wrecker or towing service, whereby disabled motor vehicles are towed or otherwise removed from the place where they are disabled by use of a tow truck so designed for that purpose or by a truck, automobile or other vehicle so adapted to that purpose and maintaining a fenced storage yard of a minimum of 10,000 square feet for the secure storage of vehicles. The height of the fence securing the storage yard shall be no less than six feet.
[Amended 11-15-2011 by Ord. No. 2011-07]

§ 206-3 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to ensure safety, traffic control and the orderly use of the streets and highways within the Township; it is necessary to have an orderly arrangement for providing tow truck and wrecker services within the Township.

§ 206-4 License required.

A. 
No person shall operate for hire a truck or other type of motor vehicle designed and able to provide road service and to tow other motor vehicles from public places, streets or highways within the Township, unless a license therefor shall first have been obtained from the Township Manager as hereinafter provided. This provision shall not be deemed to require licensing of tow truck operators who tow vehicles from private garages, residences or other private places with the prior consent of the vehicle owner or tow truck operator towing vehicles.
B. 
Such license shall not be transferable. Any change in ownership of a licensee shall operate as a termination of such license.
C. 
Application for each such license related to standard tow truck wreckers and heavy tow truck wreckers shall be mailed on a form provided by the Township and shall be accompanied by a fee schedule to be charged by the licensee and an annual license fee of $500, or such fee as shall be set from time to time by resolution of the Township Board of Supervisors.
D. 
Each license issued by the Township under this chapter shall be for one calendar year.
E. 
Applicant shall require a separate license for a wrecker applying for the heavy tow truck list, in addition to standard tow truck list.

§ 206-5 Application for license; eligibility, denial and expiration.

A. 
Application. Neither license shall be issued unless an affidavit of application therefor has been filed with the Township Manager by the applicant on or before November 30 prior to the license calendar year, duly sworn to by said applicant before a duly licensed notary public of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and thereafter approved. The application, shall include the following information for each license, whether a standard tow truck or heavy tow truck:
[Amended 11-15-2011 by Ord. No. 2011-07; 8-18-2015 by Ord. No. 2015-05]
(1) 
The name and business address of the applicant and, if a natural person, his age and residential address.
(2) 
The registration number of each tow truck to be operated.
(3) 
The location, description and hourly availability of the tow trucks operated by the applicant and the rates for services thereof.
(4) 
Location of space for properly storing, accommodating and protecting all disabled motor vehicles to be towed or otherwise removed from the place where vehicles are disabled.
(5) 
A schedule of regular rates showing the charges to be made for all aspects of towing within the towing area indicated in § 206-7E hereof.
(6) 
Such other information as the Township Board of Supervisors shall find reasonably necessary to effectuate the purpose of this chapter and to arrive at a fair determination of whether the terms of this chapter have been complied with.
(7) 
A certificate of insurance shall be provided by each wrecker requiring notice to the Township not less than 30 days prior to the event of cancellation or nonrenewal, which shall indicate the amount of liability insurance and garagekeeper's liability insurance for personal injury and property damage on said service or tow truck and to cover fire, theft and property damage on vehicles impounded or stored, respectively; the name of the insurance company, which must be licensed to do business in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; and the policy number. The limits shall be not less than $100,000 for each person and $300,000 for each occurrence and not less than $25,000 for property damage on each of the property coverages and garage keeper's legal liability policy to cover fire, theft and property damage that will cover any vehicle towed, impounded or stored and will keep such policy in effect through their license period, in insurance limits not less than as set forth above.
B. 
Eligibility, denial, revocation and expiration.
(1) 
Eligibility. Each person operating a tow truck business as a wrecker in the Township may obtain a separate license for any tow truck (either standard tow truck or heavy tow truck) to operate, provided that such person abides by the regulations set forth herein. No individual truck may be licensed by more than one applicant; however it may be granted a separate license as a standard tow truck or a heavy tow truck.
(2) 
Denial or revocation. The Township Board of Supervisors may in each case, after a public hearing, either deny a license to any applicant whom the Board shall determine to be an undesirable person or incapable of properly conducting a road service or tow truck business or revoke the license or licenses of any licensee whom the Township Board of Supervisors shall determine has violated the provisions of this chapter.
(3) 
Expiration. Every license issued pursuant to this chapter shall expire on the 31st day of December following the issuance thereof, and no such license is transferable from one operator to another, nor from one truck to another, without the prior written consent of the Township.
(4) 
Except as to towing operators currently licensed by the Township and operating a tow truck business within the Township as of October 11, 2005, all other licensed towing operators must control a vehicular impound lot within the Township and actively use said lot within the Township to secure vehicles towed in the Township. Said storage lot or impound yard within the Township shall be secured by a fence no less than six feet high, and all vehicles towed within the Township must be stored securely within the fenced-in area. The fenced-in storage lot or impound yard shall be no less than 10,000 square feet. All storage lots within the Township shall be clearly identified, by sign or otherwise, with the name and telephone number of the company or individual that owns the storage lot. No more than one licensed towing operator may use any given storage lot or impound yard to meet the requirements of this section, and no more than one storage lot or impound yard may be located on any given property.
[Amended 11-15-2011 by Ord. No. 2011-07; 8-20-2013 by Ord. No. 2013-05]
(5) 
No license shall be considered for issuance by the Township under this chapter unless the entire application, with all requirements set forth in § 206-5A, has been received by the Township on or before November 30 of the calendar year prior to the license calendar year.
(6) 
Each licensed person under this chapter shall provide, no later than June of each license year, a certificate or other written document acceptable to the Township that the insurances required under this chapter remains in full force and effect.
[Amended 11-15-2011 by Ord. No. 2011-07]

§ 206-6 Equipment requirements.

A. 
No vehicle shall be licensed unless the vehicle to be licensed is properly registered and inspected as required by the Motor Vehicle Law of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Each tow truck shall meet all of the requirements of the Motor Vehicle Law for such vehicles.
B. 
On each side of every tow truck for which a license has been granted, there shall be, legibly inscribed in letters not less than three inches high, the name and address of the owner and licensee of such tow truck and the license number for each license posted on the cab.
C. 
Each tow truck shall be equipped with an amber rotating light mounted at the top of the cab of such vehicle and shall be of a type that contains at least two sealed beam bulbs and visible 360° for a distance of not less than 500 feet under normal atmospheric conditions, or equal lighting equipment.
D. 
Each tow truck shall be equipped with two flashing red lights (four-way flashers) so mounted as to show the width of the vehicle from the rear; said lights shall be visible for a distance of not less than 500 feet under normal atmospheric conditions.
E. 
Each tow truck shall be equipped with not less than 12 thirty-minute-burning-type flares and three reflecting-type flares.
F. 
Each tow truck shall be equipped with a fire extinguisher, the minimum rating of which shall be at least 10 pounds ABC.
G. 
Each tow truck shall be equipped with hoisting equipment of sufficient capacity to perform the service intended. The hoisting equipment of each tow truck shall be securely mounted to the frame of such vehicle. The winch of such hoisting equipment shall contain not less than 100 feet of steel strand cable; said cable shall be one continuous length and shall be free from breaks, splits or knots.
H. 
Each tow truck shall be equipped with a broom, shovel, crowbar and oil dry.
[Amended 11-15-2011 by Ord. No. 2011-07]
I. 
Each tow truck shall be CB-equipped to monitor Citizens' Band Channel 9.
J. 
Each operator of any tow truck shall have a valid commercial driver's license related to tow truck operators issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles.

§ 206-7 Prohibited acts.

A. 
Restrictions upon removal of vehicles.
[Amended 8-19-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-07]
(1) 
Removal from the scene of an accident. It shall be unlawful for any person to service or tow away any motor vehicle which has been involved in an accident without the prior consent of the owner or operator and/or the Township police officer at the scene of the accident. No motor vehicle shall be serviced at the scene of an accident, except to the extent necessary to remove the vehicle from the scene. When requested by the Township police officer, the vehicle shall not be removed from the scene of an accident so that an examination be made of the damaged vehicle to determine whether the vehicle was defective or where the Township police officer requires or requests that photographs and/or diagrams of the scene be made.
(2) 
Removal of vehicle when emergency declared. When an emergency is declared, pursuant to § 203-27, it shall be unlawful for any person to service or tow away any motor vehicle, under the authority of this chapter, at the time of the intended removal if the owner or the owner's agent, at the time being in charge of such vehicle, is present and expresses a willingness and intention to remove such vehicle immediately.
B. 
Failure to remove debris. When called to the scene of an accident, either under this chapter or at the request of the owner of the motor vehicle, the wrecker shall be responsible for removing debris from the roadway, such as glass, metal fragments, etc., leaving the roadway free from such debris. Failure to remove debris shall be unlawful.
[Amended 11-15-2011 by Ord. No. 2011-07]
C. 
Solicitation. It shall be unlawful for any person to drive along any public street or highway within the Township for the sole purpose of soliciting towing and/or repair work. It shall be unlawful for any person to solicit towing or repair work at the scene of any motor vehicle accident on private property or on a public highway within the Township. The stopping of any tow truck within 500 feet of the scene of any accident or disabled vehicle on any public street or highway in the Township without the prior authorization of the operator of the vehicle, owner of the vehicle, a member of the Township Police Department or a member of the Pennsylvania State Police shall be presumptive evidence of the intent of the operator of a tow truck to solicit towing or repair work, except if the owner flags down a passing tow truck.
D. 
Cruising. Cruising for the purpose of solicitation of towing or repair work shall be unlawful. "Cruising" shall be defined as the driving along the public highways or roadways solely for the purpose of soliciting towing or repair work, and without having been first called or otherwise requested to provide service.
E. 
Destination of towed vehicle. The owner of the vehicle shall determine the destination of the vehicle to be transported by the wrecker, within a radius of not greater than 12 miles from the location of the subject vehicle.
[Amended 11-15-2011 by Ord. No. 2011-07]
F. 
Fees. No person operating pursuant to this chapter and participating as a licensee on the Township list pursuant to § 206-4, shall charge fees for any towing or storage services in excess of the fees established from time to time by resolution of the Board of Supervisors.
G. 
Subcontracting. In an on-call event, in the event that wrecker called for towing or service assistance is unable to comply with the request for towing or service assistance, the wrecker shall not be permitted to subcontract the work to another wrecker or to permit any unlicensed wrecker or vehicle to complete the tow or service assistance. In such an instance, if the wrecker that was originally called is unable to complete the tow or the service assistance, the next wrecker on the duty tow list shall be contacted to complete the tow or service assistance.
[Added 12-18-2012 by Ord. No. 2012-09]

§ 206-8 List of licensees; calls for assistance.

A. 
Designation by owner/operator. In a non-on-call event, the owner or operator of a vehicle in need of service may designate the person or establishment to tow the vehicle, whether or not such person or establishment is licensed by the Township, provided that such person or establishment complies with all applicable rules and regulations in towing vehicles.
B. 
Request of assistance. In a non-on-call event, whenever a member of the Township Police Department is requested to provide assistance in obtaining a tow truck, the Township police officer shall present to the owner or operator of the vehicle a list of all licensed wreckers, which list shall include a schedule of fees as referenced in § 206-5A(5) and an indication of whether such wrecker maintains a heavy tow truck. The owner or operator may then designate a licensed wrecker from the list and shall thereafter be responsible for such fees and charges of the wrecker.
C. 
Failure of wrecker to promptly arrive. In an on-call event, in the event that a wrecker called for towing or service assistance is unable or fails to arrive at the location where assistance is requested within 15 minutes commencing from the time the wrecker is notified, another wrecker from the same on-call list, whether a standard tow truck or a heavy tow truck, may be called, and the first wrecker called shall not be entitled to any compensation in such event.
D. 
Notwithstanding the above provisions of this section, the Township Police Department shall be authorized to contact the appropriate Bucks County-designated dispatch operator to obtain a tower in such cases as the Township Police Department deems necessary and appropriate to best provide for the public welfare and safety.
E. 
In the event that an accident is of such proportions that none of the wreckers can promptly remove the wreckage, the Police Department is authorized to call in special equipment from whatever source to clear the public highways and streets.
F. 
Declaration of emergencies.
[Added 8-19-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-07]
(1) 
When an emergency is declared, pursuant to § 203-27, the Township Manager, the Chief of Police, and/or an authorized designee shall have the authority to call any wrecker for towing or service assistance. In an emergency, priority shall be given to the on-call wrecker for towing or service assistance, but the Township shall utilize the services of any Township duty tow wrecker to facilitate the expeditious towing of all vehicles parked in violation of the provisions of Chapter 203.
(2) 
During any emergency pursuant to § 203-27, at the discretion of the Chief of Police or his/her designee, the on-call wrecker shall be stationed in the Township Building parking lot in order to facilitate the prompt arrival and removal of any vehicle at the Township's request.

§ 206-9 Impounding; collection of fees; rotating list to be kept.

A. 
If the Township Police Department directs a wrecker to tow and impound a motor vehicle, such operator shall provide the facilities to store said vehicle. Any person called upon to impound a vehicle for the Township Police Department must store the vehicle within the limits of the Township unless directed otherwise by a member of the Township Police Department or exempt pursuant to § 205-5B(4) of this chapter.
B. 
The wrecker shall be responsible for the collection of all fees for service, towing or storage of any vehicle. Neither the Township nor any of its agencies or employees shall act as agent for the collection of any fees, nor shall they be held responsible in the event of nonpayment of any moneys due to any wrecker as a result of the services performed in accordance with this chapter. All wreckers are authorized to collect fees scheduled in the Code of the Township, in the event that the Township requests towing or impounding.
C. 
The wrecker is responsible for compliance with all applicable rules and regulations regarding the impound and disposition of the vehicle and shall provide all required notices.
D. 
The Township Police Department shall maintain two rotating lists of all wreckers, one list containing all wreckers owning a standard tow truck and the other list containing wreckers owning a heavy tow truck, and the Township Police Department shall designate wreckers on a rotating basis for each list. A person designated by the Township Manager shall maintain the rotating lists of wreckers and the Township Police shall designate tow-truck establishments on a rotating basis. If one wrecker is called for a tow operation from one list, he shall not again be called for towing until such time as all wreckers from such list have been called or have been unable to meet a call when called. The Township Police Department, in its sole discretion, shall determine whether any qualified standard tow truck or heavy tow truck shall be required for any particular tow.

§ 206-10 Liability; indemnification.

The licensing of wreckers pursuant to this chapter shall create no new or additional liability for the Township. The duties performed by the Township pursuant to this chapter are general duties owed to the public. No person is authorized to create a special duty to anyone either by representation, act or omission. Wreckers pursuant to this chapter shall indemnify the Township to the fullest extent allowable by law.

§ 206-11 Inspection; suspension.

The Public Safety Director of the Township or his designated representative may cause to be inspected each wrecker's place of business and licensed vehicles not less than, but not limited to, twice each year. In the event that a wrecker fails to comply with the provision herein contained, the Public Safety Director shall suspend the wrecker from the list of wreckers maintained at the Township Police Department and so notify the Township Manager in writing. The wrecker shall remain suspended until all violations are corrected. Said wrecker shall be entitled, upon request within 30 days, to a public hearing before the Township Board of Supervisors, to renew and approve or terminate said suspension.

§ 206-12 Removal and impounding of illegally parked vehicles.

[Added 8-19-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-07[1]]
A. 
Authorization for removal and impoundment. The Township Manager, the Chief of Police, and/or an authorized designee thereof are hereby authorized to remove and impound or to order the removal and impounding of any vehicle illegally parked on any of the streets, highways or public property in the Township.
B. 
Notification of removal and impounding. Within 24 hours, or as soon as practicable from the time of removal of any vehicle under the authority granted by this chapter, notice of the fact that such vehicle has been impounded shall be sent to the owner of record of such vehicle. Such notice shall designate the place from which such vehicle was removed, the reason for its removal and impounding, and the pound location in which it shall have been impounded. Such notice shall be provided at any time that a vehicle is towed or impounded at the Township's request. The wrecker shall be solely responsible for providing the notification required in this section.
C. 
Payment of charges; protests.
(1) 
All charges and fees for any towing or storage services shall be in compliance with the charges and fees established from time to time by resolution of the Board of Supervisors, as designated in § 206-7F.
(2) 
The payment of towing and storage charges authorized by this chapter shall not operate to relieve the owner or operator of any vehicle from liability for any fine or penalty for violation of any law or ordinance on account of which such vehicle was removed and impounded.
D. 
Records of vehicles removed and impounded. The Chief of Police, or his/her designee, shall keep a record of all vehicles impounded and shall be able at all reasonable times to furnish the owners or the agents of the owners thereof with information as to the place of storage of such vehicles.
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also provided for the renumbering of former § 206-12 as § 206-13.

§ 206-13 Penalties for offenses.

[Amended 11-15-2011 by Ord. No. 2011-07]
A. 
Any person guilty of violating any provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of an offense.
B. 
Upon 10 days' written notice and after a hearing before the Township Manager, the Township may penalize any licensee under this chapter in any appropriate way, including, but not limited to, a revocation of a license issued hereunder, when it finds any of the following grounds:
(1) 
The license was procured by fraudulent conduct or false statement of material fact or that a fact concerning the applicant was not disclosed at the time of his making application, and such fact would have constituted just cause for refusal to issue said license.
(2) 
The wrecker illegally employed a short-wave radio to obtain information as to the location of the scene of an accident or disabled vehicle.
(3) 
The wrecker paid, in the form of a gratuity, any third person not involved in the accident for information as to the location of the accident.
(4) 
The wrecker has violated the fee schedule by overcharging. Such allegations may be confirmed by written complaints from the public or other complainant.
(5) 
The wrecker has violated any of the requirements of this chapter or any of the rules and regulations as established by the Board of Supervisors.
C. 
Penalty guidelines.
(1) 
With the exception of alleged violations of the fee schedule, the Township Manager shall consider the following guidelines when formulating his or her recommendation to the Board of Supervisors for an alleged violation of any of the provisions of this chapter, and the Board of Supervisors shall consider the following guidelines when rendering its decision:
(a) 
Any person or wrecker committing an offense against any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction therefore, be subject to a fine not to exceed $50 for the first offense, plus the attorney's fees and other costs incurred by the Township in investigating and/or litigating the alleged offense, including but not limited to preparation for and representation at a hearing in front of the Township Manager.
[Amended 8-18-2015 by Ord. No. 2015-05]
(b) 
Any person or wrecker committing an offense hereunder, within six months of his or its conviction of any prior offense hereunder, shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $1,000, plus the attorney's fees and other costs incurred by the Township in investigating and/or litigating the alleged offense, including but not limited to preparation for and representation at a hearing in front of the Township Manager; and/or shall have his or its license suspended for a period of up to 60 days.
[Amended 8-18-2015 by Ord. No. 2015-05]
(c) 
Any person or wrecker committing an offense hereunder, within 12 months of his or its conviction of more than one other offense hereunder, shall be fined not less than $500, plus the attorney's fees and other costs incurred by the Township in investigating and/or litigating the alleged offense, including but not limited to preparation for and representation at a hearing in front of the Township Manager; and/or shall have his or its license suspended for a period of up to 120 days.
[Amended 8-18-2015 by Ord. No. 2015-05]
(2) 
In no event, however, are the above guidelines mandatory, and at any time the Board of Supervisors may issue any appropriate penalty, given the facts and circumstances alleged, either more severe than described above, or less severe than described above, based on the evidence presented at the hearing before the Township Manager and/or at a public hearing related to the Township Manager's recommendation.
(3) 
Failure to remit timely payment of fines and/or other fees or costs pursuant to this subsection shall be considered a further violation of this chapter.
[Added 8-18-2015 by Ord. No. 2015-05]
D. 
Any wrecker lawfully removed from either tower list by termination of either license granted hereunder by the Township shall immediately result in the termination of all rights and privileges granted under this chapter as a duly licensed wrecker.