[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Wallkill 2-25-1999 by L.L. No. 1-1999; amended in its entirety 9-24-2020 by L.L. No. 4-2020. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
The intent of this chapter is to provide to the Town of Wallkill residents safe and reliable tow options and provide for the prompt and safe removal of vehicles in need of a tow or requiring tow service in the Town at reasonable rates; additionally, to prevent traffic hazards or secondary accidents as a result of ill-equipped tow vehicles or inexperienced or unscrupulous operators on public roadways or at accident scenes and to protect the public from excessive charges by towers. To that end, it shall be unlawful to operate a towing vehicle(s) for hire in the Town of Wallkill unless the owner has registered their towing service with the Town and has obtained a license from the Town Board as set forth herein. Additionally, the Town Police Department shall maintain a list of authorized and permitted tow operators to be used in instances where the Town Police require a towing service to clear a motor vehicle accident.
Unless otherwise expressly stated, whenever used in this chapter, the following words shall have the meanings given to them by this section:
- ABANDONED VEHICLE
- Any vehicle which is parked on or along the streets and highways of the Town of Wallkill that is unattended, and which, in the judgment of the Police Department, poses a safety/traffic hazard.
- Any incident or occurrence where one or more vehicles come into contact with each other or another object, thereby causing personal injury or property damage.
- AUTHORIZED TOWER PERMIT
- Issued to the owner of a licensed towing truck/s, permitting the holder to be placed on a preferred roster of tow trucks, which roster is located at the Police Station, and used by the Town Police for all related towing.
- A twenty-four-hour period from the time of the tow.
- DISABLED VEHICLE
- Any vehicle that requires towing because of i) mechanical failure; ii) an accident/incident that has rendered it unable to proceed under its own motive power or otherwise unsafe to drive; or iii) the incapacity or inability of the vehicle's operator to safely operate the vehicle.
- Any person driving a tow truck for hire upon the public highways.
- FOR HIRE
- Includes any incident where a fee, charge or other consideration is directly or indirectly imposed for towing, carrying or removing any disabled vehicle, and shall be inclusive of repairs made on a towed vehicle for a consideration, although no charge is expressly imposed for the towing of such a vehicle.
- Issued to the owner of a towing truck, permitting the holder of said tow truck/s, to operate within the Town to tow abandoned or disabled vehicles.
- Includes the control and direction of the use of a vehicle for hire for towing from places within the Town of Wallkill.
- SCENE OF ACCIDENT
- Includes any area of a street to which a vehicle is removed to prevent the obstruction of traffic, and will remain so until the vehicle or vehicles is removed, either under its own power or by a properly permitted tow car.
- TOW TRUCK
- A motor vehicle for hire which is either equipped for the purpose of carrying, lifting, pushing, pulling or otherwise removing any motor vehicle or motor vehicles, or which is used in the business of removing such vehicles.
- The moving or removing of disabled or abandoned motor vehicles by a tow truck for hire.
- TOWING TOWN CODE
- This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Towing Town Code of the Town of Wallkill."
- WINCHING AND DOLLY WORK
- Work above and beyond that required of a normal tow service. Winching and dolly work is work used to remove a vehicle that is not in a position to be towed by normal means that may be off the roadway. Winching a vehicle onto a flatbed shall not be considered a winching under this statute.
Application requirements; expiration and renewal of license. The following requirements must be met to receive a License to perform towing services for abandoned and disabled vehicles in the Town:
All tow truck owners and operators must obtain an annual license from the Town to conduct towing operations as described in this chapter at an annual cost for each vehicle. There shall be a charge for each additional vehicle to be used for towing. Each tower must provide to the Town a list of each towing vehicle to be used for towing services. Towers will be monitored annually to assure compliance with this chapter.
All tow truck owners and operators must be in compliance with all local laws, rules and regulations of the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) motor vehicle laws, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations, (see attached addendum) with respect to their towing facility, Failure to be in compliance will preclude being on the list until all compliance is met. Anyone not in compliance will have 45 days in which to meet compliance after notice by certified mail.
Editor's Note: Said addendum is on file in the Town offices.
A tow truck owner and operator license shall be obtained following the submission of an application, in a form furnished by the Town, which shall state:
The name, address, age and business address of the applicant.
The number of tow trucks proposed to be operated within the Town by the applicant and a description of each tow truck, including the make, model, year of manufacture, New York State registration number, New York State inspection certificate number, and expiration of the inspection certificate.
The address, including a description of the facility, of the place from which tow trucks are proposed to be garaged and dispatched.
The name and address of the insurance carrier which covers each tow truck against public liability in an amount of at least $1,000,000 combined single limit, including bodily injury and property damage. The applicant must produce a valid certificate of insurance with such application which names the Town of Wallkill as an additional insured and which indemnifies the Town from liability to the fullest extent allowable by law. The certificate of insurance shall be maintained in full force and effect during the period covered by the license. The certificate must state that the Town of Wallkill will be notified in the event of cancellation.
All crimes of which the applicant or any member thereof, or any officer, if a corporation, has been convicted, stating the name and location of the court and the date on which such convictions were had and the penalties imposed therefor.
The experience of the applicant in the towing of vehicles for hire.
A copy of the New York State driver's license with Class C towing endorsement for each driver who shall be operating a tow truck.
No person who has been convicted of any felony, including, but not limited to, those involving the theft, larceny, dismantling, alteration of vehicle identification numbers or conversion of motor vehicles, either in whole or in part, any violent felony, or is a person who is currently registered as a sex offender within the State of New York, shall be permitted to hold a towing license in the Town of Wallkill or to be a tow truck operator, or crew for a licensed owner on the list. The Town of Wallkill shall conduct a criminal background check upon all applicants for a towing license, along with all towing operators who will work for the applicants, using the following procedure:
The applicant shall provide to the Town its name, the names of its principals if a corporate entity, and the names of its tow truck operators. Failure for the applicant to comply with this requirement shall result in a rejection of the application.
If a licensee obtains a new tow truck operator, principal, etc., it must provide the name of said individual to the Town for a background check before said individual can participate in any towing operation within the Town of Wallkill. Failure for the licensee to comply with this requirement shall result in a suspension of the license.
All fees associated with the criminal background check shall be borne by the applicant, or licensee, and shall be paid to the Town at the time the application, or updated information, is submitted to the Town for review.
Failure for a licensee to suspend a tow truck operator from operating within the Town of Wallkill upon learning of said operator's conviction for a disqualifying felony shall result in an immediate suspension of the licensee's towing license.
A nonrefundable application fee shall be submitted along with the application to the own. The application fee, costs, or deposits required to be paid pursuant to this chapter shall be set by resolution of the Town Board.
At the time the application is granted, the applicant shall be required to submit a licensing fee of in an amount to be set by resolution of the Town Board. This fee shall cover the first vehicle in the towing company's fleet. An additional fee in an amount to be set by resolution of the Town Board must be submitted for each additional vehicle in the towing fleet.
There shall hereby be established a towing list to be used by the Town Police when deemed necessary, which shall contain the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all towers licensed to perform towing services for abandoned and disabled vehicles located within the Town of Wallkill. The name of the towing list principal owner or major stockholders of each towing company shall appear on the list. If said individual conducts business under several different names, either individually or as a corporation or otherwise, they shall not be entitled to separate listings of each business on the list.
Unless a specific tow truck service is requested, towers shall be selected on a rotating basis by the Town police dispatcher from the towing list.
When a vehicle owner or other authorized person at the scene of an accident whose vehicle is disabled requests the police officer at the scene for a specified tow truck owner, the police officer shall so inform Police Dispatch, and the requested tow truck owner, if available, shall be notified of the request.
In the event that no request is made or in the event that the requested tow truck owner does not respond or is otherwise unable to deploy a tow truck to the scene, Police Dispatch shall notify the next successive tow truck owner on the preferred roster in rotation after the last-called owner, and, upon failing to get a response, shall call the next succeeding tow truck owner on the preferred roster until the tow service is accepted.
Police Dispatch shall keep a record concerning the date and the acceptance or refusal of each call made.
In order to remain on the towing list, the towing company must:
Be available or on call on a twenty-four-hour basis to tow abandoned or disabled vehicles.
All tow truck operators that accept a call from the Town Police Department when it is there turn on the rotating list must respond to the scene of any service call within 30 minutes.
Agree to abide by the fees contained in this chapter.
All tow truck operators must maintain proper records of all fees received, which will be available for inspection by the Town.
All tow truck operators must be duly licensed, and all vehicles must carry proof of a current permit at all times and must be in good operating condition.
All operators must produce proof that each vehicle licensed for tow truck operations within the Town shall have a minimum insurance coverage of $500,000 for any one individual and $1,000,000 for any one accident.
Agree to clean up debris from any vehicle accident, by sweeping debris from the accident scene into the gutter, except for those pieces which are too large to sweep into the gutter, and those must be removed from the scene and disposed of by the licensee. The requirement to clean up debris includes the cleanup of oil, gasoline or water which spilled as a result of the accident.
All vehicles towed by licensed towers within the Town will stay within the borders of the Town of Wallkill unless authorized by the owner of the vehicle or a police officer.
Agree not to release police impounds without a written impound release from the Town of Wallkill Police Department if impounded with the tower per the guidelines laid out here in and/or not at the Town of Wallkill impound yard.
An owner/operator may not assign his or her turn in the police roster to any other tow company, nor shall they substitute any tow vehicle for one not consistent with the application on file with the Police Department.
The following are the maximum rates for towing within the Town of Wallkill of abandoned or disabled motor vehicles that are required to be towed by the Town Police Department:
Initial response fee: day or night $225.
Winching rates: day or night $175 up to one hour, $87.50 per 30 minutes.
Labor fee: one man, $125.
Spill cleanup: $75 for on-scene cleanup of all fluids, glass, parts, any other material from an accident, chargeable to the motorist that caused the need for the cleanup.
Flares: $7 per flare if directed to use same by Town Police.
Mileage: $7.50 per mile from where vehicle is picked up to destination.
Contaminated equipment cleanup: $125 which includes biological (human/animal) as well as hazmat materials from the vehicle being towed, i.e., oil, coolant, transmission, power steering, brake fluids, battery acid which cannot be cleaned at the towing company shop.
Yard/admin fee: $125 which is a combination fee where the vehicle has no power, an employee goes out with insurance company or owner to power up vehicle any way possible in order to retrieve mileage, open trunk, open crushed doors to retrieve personal items from vehicle.
Fire extinguisher fees: $100 if directed to use or driver is on scene prior to Fire Department.
Outdoor storage: $75 per day.
Indoor storage: $125 per day.
After business hours vehicle release: $125 for owner/agent of company to make arrangements with vehicle's owner to meet at shop to retrieve vehicle.
Road Service: $150 on passenger vehicles, includes tire change, jumpstart, lockouts or fuel delivery (three gallons of fuel @ pump price per gallon added to road service fee).
No other fees are permitted to be charged by the towing companies that are not listed or contained herein.
All fees charged by the towing company shall be itemized in an invoice provided to the owner of the vehicle, the vehicle insurer when applicable and the Town of Wallkill upon request.
These towing charges shall not apply to the towing of motor trucks or special equipment exceeding a one-and-one-half-ton capacity.
No permit towing license shall be issued unless the applicant agrees to charge no more than a maximum of $75 per twenty-four-hour day for outside storage and no more than a maximum of $125 per twenty-four-hour day for inside storage. All vehicles being stored must be stored on the premises of the licensee in a gated and locked secure facility, whether indoors or outdoors, and shall not be permitted to be parked or stored on Town roads, yards or on open plots of land.
All licensees shall be required to post in their garage, terminal, service station or place of business a schedule of the maximum rates for towing and storage as herein set forth.
It shall be unlawful for any licensee to demand or receive any payment in excess of the rates permitted by this chapter.
It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to solicit towing work by any means whatsoever from any person at or near the scene of an automobile accident within the Town of Wallkill. It shall be unlawful for any tow truck to proceed to the scene of an accident or disablement without having first been requested or notified to do so by the vehicle owner or a police officer; and the operator of any tow truck so doing shall be deemed to have committed a violation of this chapter.
An offense against any provision of this chapter shall be a violation of the Town code, which shall be punishable by a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $750 per violation for individuals, nor more than $1,000 per violations for business entities and suspension of the license and/or permit for 30 days.
The conviction for two violations of this chapter within a twelve-month period shall, in addition to the aforementioned penalties, result in the revocation of the towing company's license for the year.
The conviction for three violations of this chapter offenses within a twenty-four month period shall result in the towing company's license being permanently revoked.
In the event that the Town receives a complaint regarding any alleged excessive or exorbitant fee, and/or substandard service, or otherwise is in possession of information indicating that a licensed towing company is not in compliance with the terms and provisions of this chapter, the Town shall have a right to investigate the same and to take appropriate action with respect thereto.
The Chief of Police or his designated agent shall be responsible for conducting an investigation into any complaints involving towing operators.
Upon investigation and substantiation of the complaint, the Chief of Police shall notify the licensee in writing of the complaint and the Town Police's determination. The Chief of Police shall afford the licensee an opportunity to meet and discuss the complaint and compliance measures.
Power to deny, suspend or revoke. The Chief of Police or his designated agent may deny, suspend or revoke any active towing license for a violation of this chapter or any other statute or ordinance or for any conduct involving an unreasonable risk to the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public. Notice of denial, suspension or revocation of the license and the reason(s) therefor shall be served by the Chief of Police or his designated agent upon the person named in the license or permit by mailing the same to the address given in the license, whereupon a copy of such notice shall be filed in the Clerk's office with an affidavit of service or mailing. When a license is revoked, no refund of any portion of the license fee shall be made.
Grounds for a denial of a license. An application can be denied for any reason listed herein. Additionally, the Chief of Police or their designated agent retains the right to deny an applicant for any perceived conduct involving an unreasonable risk to the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public.
Term of suspension. A suspension of a license by the Chief of Police or his designated agent shall be effective for 30 days, except as otherwise provided in this chapter, running from the date of notification upon the permit holder.
Grounds for suspension and revocation.
No license issued under this chapter shall be suspended or revoked without cause. Cause shall include, but shall not be limited to:
Revocations. In addition to the automatic revocation provided for herein, a license shall be revoked by the Chief of Police upon the occurrence of any of the following:
Any two suspensions and/or proven complaints within the twelve-month period of the issuance of the license.
Any three suspensions and/or proven complaints within the twenty-four-month period of the issuance of the license.
Knowingly filing a false application.
Any arrest or conviction of a licensee for a criminal offense committed by such person during or in relation to towing operations.
Any driver who operates with a suspended driver's or vehicle license as issued by the Town of Wallkill or a suspended registration.
The suspension or revocation of an operator's New York State driver's license by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.
Operation of a tow truck without the insurance required by this chapter, for illegal purposes, or otherwise in violation of the law.
Review of denial, revocation or suspension. A hearing officer shall be appointed by the Town Supervisor to hear and decide appeals taken from any determination made by the Chief of Police or his designated agent which denied, revoked or suspended such driver's and/or vehicle license. Any applicant who shall have been refused a license, or a license holder whose license shall have been revoked or suspended, may appeal to the hearing officer for review of such denial, revocation or suspension as set forth in this chapter. The failure of an aggrieved party to take an appeal within 10 business days of receipt of such denial, revocation or suspension shall constitute a waiver of right to appeal. The hearing officer shall designate a time and place for the hearing within 30 days of the designation of the hearing officer. The aggrieved party shall have the option of whether such hearing shall be public or private. The aggrieved party shall be given an opportunity to present evidence, including questioning witnesses, why such denial of application, or such suspension or revocation of the license, shall be modified or withdrawn. The Chief of Police or his designated agent may also present evidence in support of the denial, suspension, or revocation. Upon consideration of the evidence presented, but no later than 15 business days after the date of the hearing, the hearing officer shall issue a decision that sustains, modifies or reverses the decision of the Chief of Police or his designated agent.
In the event the aggrieved party is not satisfied with the decision of the hearing officer, such aggrieved party may appeal the decision by filing written notice of appeal with the Town Supervisor within 10 days of the filing of the hearing officer's decision with the Clerk of the Town and service of the same upon the aggrieved party. Determination of appeal should be made by the Town Board following a hearing within 30 days of receipt of the appeal. The hearing shall be confined to the record generated at the prior hearing.
If the aggrieved party disputes the determination of the Town Board, such aggrieved party may file an Article 78 proceeding under the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules, except that such Article 78 proceeding must be filed within 30 days of the filing of the Town Board's decision with the Clerk of the Town and service of the same upon the aggrieved party.
Nothing within this chapter shall prevent a vehicle owner from choosing to call a tower who is not on the Town towing list; provided, however, that should that tower be unable to respond in a reasonable period of time and the police officer at the scene has safety concerns, the officer may supersede the desires of the owner and call a tower on the list.
Following the establishment of the calendar year's towing list, the Town will update the list, based upon any new applications, on a semiannual basis. On January 1 thru January 14 and again on July 1 thru July 14 of each year, the list will be open to new applicants. Any new applications for inclusion on the towing list, which are deemed to be complete following submission to the Town Police Department, shall be forwarded by the Chief of Police, or his designee, to the Town Board for final approval.