Borough of South River, NJ
Middlesex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of South River 5-28-1980 by Ord. No. 1980-20 (Ch. 202 of the 1977 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
General penalty — See Ch. 1, Art. I.
Fees — See Ch. 155.
Vehicles and traffic — See Ch. 193.
Junk dealers — See Ch. 198.
Abandoned vehicles — See Ch. 258, Art. II.

§ 344-1 Title.

This chapter shall be known as and may be called the "Borough of South River Wrecker Ordinance."

§ 344-2 Definitions.

[Amended 12-23-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-37]
Whenever used in this chapter, unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
A list of licensed towing businesses, maintained by the Police Department and used for the purpose of calling the appropriate towing service for vehicles deemed to be abandoned by the Police Department.
Refers to any material such as sand or "speedy dry" used to collect liquids such as radiator fluid, gasoline, or diesel fuel spills.
Refers to a one-time fee that is assessed to the vehicle owner to handle the costs of a vehicle while in storage. This fee shall be used to cover the administrative costs associated with placing and keeping the vehicle in storage.
Refers to the Borough of South River.
Refers to the removal and/or disposal of any debris left on the roadway or property as a result of a motor vehicle accident or vehicle recovery.
Refers to a vehicle used to tow or remove other vehicles via an hydraulic beam or winch beam, capable of handling passenger cars and small trucks, and which has a gross weight of not less than 10,000 pounds.
The driving of a wrecker to and fro along any Borough street for the purpose of soliciting business in the Borough.
Refers to the storage of a towed vehicle upon an order of the Police Department at the tow truck operator's storage area after a twenty-four-hour grace period from the time of the arrival of said vehicle at the storage facility.
A vehicle used to tow or lift and carry other vehicles via tilt-body flatbed or wheel lift, capable of handling passenger cars and small trucks, such as a pickup or small-panel trucks.
A wrecker commercially manufactured with a chassis, hydraulic in nature, with a capacity of not less than 26,001 pounds' gross vehicle weight with under-reach capabilities, and axle lift with minimum 25,000 pounds' lift capability and 80,000 pounds' tow capability.
Refers to the act of storing and confining a vehicle upon an order of the Police Department at either the tow truck operator's storage area or at a Borough facility as the result of abandonment, involvement in an accident, or suspected criminal activity.
Owned, rented or leased.
Any individual, sole proprietorship, firm, partnership, association, corporation or other organization, and the singular or plural, masculine, feminine or neuter thereof, unless the contrary is clearly expressed.
Refers to the South River Police Department.
Refers to motor vehicles that are stolen, abandoned, involved in a crime, unregistered, uninsured, unsafe, obstructing the safe and proper flow of traffic, involved in a fatal accident or accidents which, in the judgment of the police may become fatal, or vehicles that are being operated by unlicensed drivers or whose license to operate a motor vehicle has been revoked or suspended.
A Borough-licensed wrecker operator who responds to the scene of a police tow.
Refers to a list of licensed tow truck operators maintained by the South River Police Department which contains the names and addresses of all licensed tow truck operators who will be called on a rotating basis when the Police Department determines that the assistance of such services are required within the Borough.
Refers to the additional time a tow truck operator spends at the scene other than the time required for the actual tow and/or recovery of the vehicle. Examples of waiting time include, but are not limited to, time spent waiting while EMS, fire, and Hazmat perform all necessary services and/or the police investigate the incident scene.
A Borough-licensed tow operator called to the scene by the primary wrecker operator to assist.
Refers to a person who is engaged in the business of towing and storing motor vehicles or offering the services of a tow vehicle and storage.
A vehicle, such as a flatbed wrecker or conventional wrecker, that is equipped with a boom, winches, slings, tilt beds, wheel lifts or under-reach equipment designed by its manufacturer for the removal and transport of private passenger automobiles and small trucks.
Refers to the movement of a motor vehicle by the use of a cable and a winch from a position that is accessible for direct hook up by conventional means or loading onto a tow vehicle. Pulling a motor vehicle onto a tilt bed or carrier, or lifting a motor vehicle with a conventional tow sling, does not constitute winching.
Refers to a license issued that allows a tow truck operator to engage in the activity of towing and storing motor vehicles at the direction of the Borough of South River. This license entitles the tow truck operator to be placed on the Police Department's rotating wrecker list.

§ 344-3 Expiration of licenses.

All licenses issued under this chapter shall be issued to expire and shall expire on the 31st day of December next succeeding the date of insurance, unless sooner suspended or revoked by the Borough Council as hereinafter provided.

§ 344-4 License fees.

[Amended 2-25-1982 by Ord. No. 1982-4]
The fee for a license for a wrecker and the fee for any such license issued on or after August 1 of any year shall be as provided in Chapter 155, Fees. All fees shall be payable to the Clerk of the Borough.

§ 344-5 Application for license.

[Amended 12-23-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-37]
Applications for licenses issued hereunder shall be made upon blank forms prepared and made available by the Chief of Police and shall state under oath:
The name and address of the applicant, if an individual; the name and address of each partner, if a partnership; the name, date and state under which organized, if a corporation, and if a foreign corporation, whether the same is authorized to do business in the State of New Jersey. A corporate applicant shall indicate the names of directors, principal officers and local representatives and their business addresses.
A description of each tow vehicle to be utilized by the tow truck operator in conducting his/her business, which shall include the year, make, model, type, vehicle identification number, proof of registration and proof of insurance for each vehicle.
The length of time for which the wrecker has been in use as a wrecker.
That the applicant has available space for properly accommodating and protecting all disabled motor vehicles to be towed or otherwise removed from the place where they are disabled and that the disabled vehicles will not be stored or allowed to remain on public property or Borough streets or on property which is not zoned for such storage.
Such other information which the Chief of Police shall deem necessary or proper to effectuate the purpose of this chapter and to determine whether there has been compliance with the terms hereof.
A list of all personnel who are authorized by the applicant to provide services on behalf of the applicant.

§ 344-6 Investigation by Chief of Police.

Within seven days after receipt of an application as herein provided, the Chief of Police shall cause an investigation to be made of the applicant and of his proposed business operation to be licensed. The Chief of Police may delegate the inspection of the wrecker to an independent person, who may or who may not be engaged in business in the Borough, who shall be qualified by experience and training to make such inspection and who shall report to the Chief of Police whether the wrecker is in a thoroughly safe and sanitary condition. Within 14 days after completion of the inspection and investigation, the Chief of Police shall either approve or deny the application.

§ 344-7 Standards for approval or denial by Chief of Police.

The Chief of Police shall approve the issuance of a license upon making the following findings:
That the public convenience and necessity will be served by the use of the wrecker for which application has been made.
That the wrecker to be licensed is in a thoroughly safe and sanitary condition.
That the requirement of this chapter and all other governing laws, statutes and ordinances have been met.
That the wrecker has been properly licensed and inspected by the State of New Jersey and has the necessary stickers affixed. No wrecker shall be licensed as a wrecker which is using dealer license plates.
That the insurance policies or certificates as required herein have been procured and supplied.
The Chief of Police shall also have the authority to deny wrecker license applications for any of the following reasons:
[Added 12-23-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-37]
Incomplete, inaccurate or falsified application.
Unsafe or inadequate towing vehicles and/or equipment.
Noncompliance with any provision of the Borough's wrecker ordinance.
The business location is not in a zone where the use is permitted (South River locations only).
The owner pleaded guilty or was convicted of a zoning or property maintenance violation in the Borough of South River during the 12 months preceding the application date.
Criminal or motor vehicle convictions of the owner or his employees which, in the reasonable belief of the Chief of Police, would jeopardize the safety of customers.
Inadequate or insecure storage facilities.

§ 344-8 Issuance of license.

Upon approval of the Chief of Police, upon receipt of payment from the applicant of the proper license fee for each wrecker license and upon receipt of insurance policies approved by the Borough Attorney, the Clerk of the Borough shall issue a license dated in accordance with the expiration date stated herein.

§ 344-9 Display of license.

The Chief of Police shall issue to the person owning a licensed wrecker a card not less than four inches in width nor more than six inches in length in such form as may be set by the Chief of Police, which shall be at all times prominently displayed on the right front windshield of each wrecker, and which shall bear the name and business address of the owner, official license number of the wrecker, the rate of fares and conditions of employment under which such wrecker is operating and a notice that, in case of any complaint, the Chief of Police be notified. Such card shall have attached thereto the signature of the Chief of Police and the date of inspection of the wrecker, together with blank spaces upon which entry shall be made of the date of every inspection of the wrecker by the inspector.

§ 344-10 Insurance policies.

No wrecker shall be licensed hereunder, nor shall any licensed wrecker be operated within the Borough unless there shall be deposited with the Borough Clerk the following insurance policies or certificates of insurance:
Auto garage keeper's policy. Auto garage keeper's legal liability policy covering fire, theft and explosion in the minimum amount of $10,000 and collision coverage subject to $500 deductible, with each accident deemed a separate claim.
[Amended 7-19-1995 by Ord. No. 1995-22]
Auto garage legal liability policy. Auto garage legal liability policy covering the operation of the licensee's equipment or wrecker or any bodily injury or property damage. This policy will be in the amount of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.
Each policy herein must contain an endorsement providing 10 days' notice to the Borough in the event of any material change therein or intention to cancel said policy for any cause. In the event that any policy is changed so as to fail to conform to any of the above requirements or if any policy of insurance is to be canceled for any reason, the Chief of Police shall notify the person responsible for the policy, and it shall be corrected or reinstated or replaced with a conforming policy within 10 days after the notice is received by the Borough, but before the date of cancellation. If the policy or certificate is not corrected, reinstated or replaced within 10 days prior to the date of cancellation, the Chief of Police shall immediately suspend the wrecker license and shall pick up from the owner all indications of licensing, including any stickers, cards or other means of identification.

§ 344-11 Charges.

[Amended 11-13-1986 by Ord. No. 1986-26; 1-29-2001 by Ord. No. 2001-2; 2-12-2001 by Ord. No. 2001-7; 10-21-2002 by Ord. No. 2002-34; 6-9-2004 by Ord. No. 2004-23]
Charges for the transportation, hauling or services of disabled vehicles by any licensed wrecker or operation of any licensed wrecker shall not exceed the following rates:
For conveying a disabled vehicle from any point in the Borough, when towed, transported and/or conveyed or removed anytime of the day or night: see Chapter 155, Fees.
For conveying a disabled vehicle from any point in the Borough to any other point outside the Borough which is greater in mileage than transporting said vehicle to the business address location of the wrecker company, the rate is to be determined by mutual agreement.
Dead storage: see Chapter 155, Fees.
In the event a motor vehicle is in a ditch or otherwise so disposed as to require services to be performed which are in addition to and apart from the simple act of towing, the licensee shall be authorized to impose a reasonable charge in addition to that set forth above.
There shall be a charge as provided in Chapter 155, Fees, required to cleanup the scene from which the tow was initiated. Said scene cleanup shall include, but not be limited to, cleanup of glass, accident debris and absorption of petroleum or other vehicle fluids in such a way to allow the scene to be safe for operators of motor vehicles.
In the event that a dispatched wrecker arrives on the scene and is required to standby or wait prior to beginning the removal of a vehicle, there shall be a charge as provided in Chapter 155, Fees, as standby time. There shall be no charge for standby time for the first 59 minutes the wrecker operator is at the scene and is unable to begin its duties. Any part of an hour after the elapse of the first 59 minutes shall be counted as one full hour, and the full hourly rate for standby time shall be charged.
[Amended 12-23-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-37]

§ 344-12 Qualifications for driver.

No person shall drive a wrecker who is under the age of 18 years and who has not in his possession a license duly issued to him to operate a motor vehicle in the State of New Jersey.

§ 344-13 Conditions for issuance.

A wrecker license hereunder shall be issued subject to the following conditions:
The licensee shall prominently display the license issued by the Chief of Police in the right front windshield of the wrecker.
No licensee or his agents or servants shall solicit, demand or receive from any persons any pay, commission or emolument whatever, except the proper fee authorized for transporting the disabled vehicle in accordance with the schedule of service rates listed in § 344-11.
Licensees, their agents and servants shall keep and maintain towing equipment which is adequate to perform such towing in a reasonably workmanlike manner.
Each and every licensee hereunder shall record in a book kept solely for such purpose the details of each disabled vehicle towed, serviced or transported by him or his agents or servants or employees, together with full information concerning the details surrounding the hire, the name of the owner of the towed vehicle and of the patron engaging him; which book shall be kept open for inspection at all times to a duly authorized representative of the Police Department of the Borough or a duly authorized representative of the Borough Council.

§ 344-14 Rotating call list.

A licensee performing towing service for the Borough or called by a police officer shall perform on a rotating basis. When the owner or driver of a disabled vehicle indicates a choice of a specific licensee, that licensee shall be called, and no wrecker shall be assigned from the rotating list. No licensee shall respond to the scene of an accident except upon notification by the police officer in charge in police headquarters or upon request of the driver or owner of a disabled vehicle.
Such additional rules and regulations regarding the rotation of wreckers as may be hereafter promulgated by the Borough Council shall take effect immediately after service of a copy thereof on holders of all licenses for wreckers in the Borough. Service upon a licensee may be made by sending by ordinary mail a copy of the additional rules and regulations to said licensee's business address.
If it becomes apparent that a Borough-licensed tow truck operator cannot handle a job due to exigent circumstances, or if a separate law enforcement authority directs, the officer in charge may, at his/her own discretion, forego the rotating wrecker list and summon a towing service with proper equipment. If fees for this service cannot be negotiated at the scene, the towing service may be directed by the police to perform the required services with reasonable fees to be paid by the owner.
[Added 12-23-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-37]
The Chief of Police or designee may institute additional reasonable rules, regulations, requirements or standards if deemed necessary under emergency or exigent circumstances and in such circumstances may suspend rotation.
[Added 12-23-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-37]

§ 344-15 Applicability.

Except as to the prohibition against cruising, the provisions of this chapter are applicable to the engaging of wreckers by the Police Department of the Borough of South River either on its own initiative or at the request of owners, drivers or lessees of vehicles requiring the services of wreckers.

§ 344-16 Right of owner of disabled vehicle to call certain wrecker.

Nothing in this chapter shall prevent the owner, lessee, agent or driver of a vehicle which is disabled from calling a wrecker of his choice to remove his vehicle.

§ 344-17 Power to require removal of vehicles.

The Police Department shall have the power to require wreckers to remove vehicles where:
There is obstruction of a public right-of-way or private property.
A vehicle has been vandalized or presents a fire or safety hazard or an attractive nuisance.
An abandoned vehicle bears no discernible registration or identification data.
An abandoned vehicle is not licensed or operable.
A vehicle is violating any emergency no-parking provisions as set forth in the Borough Code.
Any other condition where permitted or required by law.

§ 344-18 Number of licensed wreckers limited.

[Amended 12-23-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-37]
It is hereby determined under the lawful exercise of the police power of the Borough that public convenience and necessity require that the number of wrecker companies that are licensed to operate within the Borough shall be limited to five because of the limited area of the Borough.

§ 344-19 Equipment specifications.

[Added 12-23-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-37[1]]
All Borough-licensed wreckers shall be equipped with a minimum of the following equipment that is in good repair:
A reflective safety vest that shall be worn by the tow truck operator while working on any street, roadway, or public right-of-way.
One large street broom and shovel.
A three-eighths-inch safety chain.
Safety flares for night work.
A minimum of 20 pounds of absorbent material such as sand or speedy dry which is suitable to collect liquids such as fluid, oil, gasoline or diesel fuel spills.
Fire extinguisher (five-pound carbon dioxide or dry chemical).
Jumper cables.
Pry bar or similar tool.
Tire changing equipment.
One steering lock bar (conventional wreckers only).
Conventional wreckers shall also be equipped with a wheel lift.
At least one four-ton snatch block.
Portable lighting equipment (heavy wreckers only).
An amber light permit.
Emergency warning lights that shall be of sufficient candlepower and intensity to be visible from one-quarter mile away.
Emergency warning lights must be at sufficient height to be seen over the towed vehicle.
No towing company on the Borough's rotating wrecker list shall operate a flatbed or conventional wrecker that is more than 20 years old for Borough-sanctioned towing services.
All current Borough-licensed wrecker companies shall have until January 1, 2010, to comply with the requirements of this section. Any and all new Borough-licensed wrecker companies shall be in compliance with the requirements of this section prior to the issuance of their approved Borough wrecker license.
Editor's Note: This ordinance also redesignated former § 344-19 as § 344-23.

§ 344-20 Rules and regulations; inspections.

[Added 12-23-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-37]
The Chief of Police is hereby authorized to establish reasonable rules and regulations for the inspection of the fitness and safety of all Borough-licensed wreckers (before and after licensing) and their associated equipment. The Chief of Police and his/her designee shall have the right at any time to inspect any wrecker for compliance with the safety requirements of this chapter, the regulations established under this chapter and the laws of the state or the United States. If, as a result of this inspection, it is determined that the wrecker is not in compliance with any law or regulation, the owner of said wrecker shall be given a period of five business days to correct such violation or noncompliance, during which time the wrecker shall not be dispatched from the rotating wrecker list. If the violation or noncompliance is not corrected within said five-day period, the permit for that wrecker shall be suspended.

§ 344-21 Performance standards.

[Added 12-23-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-37]
Light- and medium-duty tow operators shall not be required to maintain a principal place of operation within the Borough but shall maintain a principal place of operation within 10 miles of the Borough's boundaries. A heavy-duty tow operator shall maintain a principal place or operation within 15 miles of the Borough's boundaries. All tow operators shall comply fully with all of the zoning, land use and property maintenance codes of the municipality in which the tow operator's business is located.
Each place of business shall maintain the following:
A storefront including signage displaying the business name, address, and phone number.
A person in the office to greet customers rendering service.
Information displayed on vehicle. All licensed Borough wreckers shall be required to display their company name, vehicle number and rates charged on a clearly visible location on their tow vehicle.
Availability of services.
All Borough-licensed tow trucks shall provide twenty-four-hour-per-day, seven-day-per-week towing services.
All releases of vehicles and personal property from vehicles shall be conducted during the tow truck operator's normal business hours, exclusive of all exigent circumstances that may be required with the authority and consent of the Police Department.
Method of payment for services rendered. All Borough-licensed wreckers must accept all forms of payment from the customers that they serve, including but not limited to cash, checks, and credit cards.
Response times.
Any Borough-licensed towing company contacted by the Police Department must confirm that it is responding within five minutes of the initial call for service or it will forfeit its turn on the Borough's rotating wrecker list.
Response time to the scene of a tow must be within 30 minutes of the time of the confirmation of assignment through the Police Department communications desk or the towing company shall forfeit its turn on the Borough's rotating wrecker list.
Registered towing personnel.
The operator of the tow truck company must register all personnel who are authorized to provide services on behalf of the tow truck company. This registration shall include the following information for each person:
Name, address, and phone number
New Jersey driver's license number and expiration date.
Social Security number.
Signed statement by each person setting forth his/her understanding that the background check will be performed by the South River Police Department, the results which will be used by the South River Police Department in determining eligibility of the towing and storage contractor for inclusion on the on-call tow list.
The tow operator must update this registration as necessary to ensure that it remains current.
Clean-up of debris. The tow operator shall be responsible for the clean-up of vehicle debris, including glass, plastic, fuel, oil, chemicals and hazardous waste materials in accordance with state law.
Unavailable for service. Should the tow truck operator not be available for service when called upon by the South River Police Department, the next wrecker on the towing list shall be contacted. A tow operator may only subcontract towing services to a licensed wrecker service for the Borough of South River.
Compliance with the requests of the Police Department.
All tow truck operators shall comply with the requests of the police officer in charge.
No tow truck operator shall respond to the scene of an accident or any scene requiring a police tow except upon notification by police headquarters.
No tow truck operator waiting to conduct a tow shall obstruct the safe and proper flow of traffic on any roadway or right-of-way without the consent of the police officer(s) on scene.
Failure to meet minimum performance standards. Failure to comply with these aforementioned performance standards may result in the suspension or removal of a tow truck operator from the Borough's rotating wrecker list as outlined in § 344-23.
Itemized payment receipts. Each tow truck operator shall be required to issue to the owner of a vehicle a written itemized receipt for all fees paid in association with the vehicle tow.
Release of police impounds. No tow truck operator shall release a police impound vehicle without verifying that the owner of the vehicle has obtained an official Police Department vehicle release form.

§ 344-22 Unclaimed vehicles.

[Added 12-23-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-37]
All tow operators, in order to be in compliance with N.J.S.A. 39:10A-1, shall notify the South River Police Department Traffic Safety Bureau regarding any unclaimed vehicle within three days after taking possession of the vehicle. The following information shall be included upon notification:
The year, make, model, color and vehicle identification number.
The odometer reading of the vehicle.
Photograph of vehicle.
The South River Police Department Traffic Safety Bureau will make notification of possession to the owner of record or holder of interest and provide information needed for the tow operator to make its own further notice as set forth herein.
After notification by the Traffic Safety Bureau, the person storing the vehicle shall notify the owner of record and holder of interest by certified mail, return receipt requested, of the schedule of costs for storing the motor vehicle and instructions on how the vehicle may be reclaimed.
If the person storing the motor vehicle fails to provide such notice to the owner of record or security interest holder within 30 days of the date on which the storer of the vehicle received the notice from the Traffic Safety Bureau, the maximum amount that such person may charge the owner of record or the security interest holder for storing the motor vehicle shall be $750, provided that the owner of record or security interest holder submits a proper claim for the vehicle not later than the 30th day following the date the notice is delivered from the Traffic Safety Bureau to the person storing the vehicle. If the owner of record or security interest holder fails to submit a proper claim for the vehicle on or before that 30th day, the person storing the vehicle may charge the security interest holder reasonable costs for storage.

§ 344-23 Violations and penalties.

[Amended 12-23-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-37]
Any person who shall violate any of the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be punished as provided in Chapter 1, Article I, General Provisions, and each violation of any of the provisions of this chapter and each day there is a violation thereof shall be deemed and taken to be a separate and distinct offense. In addition, the Mayor and Council, after a hearing, may revoke or suspend any license issued hereunder or may refuse to renew any license previously issued hereunder for violation of any of the provisions of this chapter.
A towing operator's license may be revoked and the tow business removed from the rotational list by Mayor and Council if the tow operator's performance is determined to be unreliable, inadequate, or poses a threat to the public safety of the Borough after an investigation conducted by the Chief of Police or his/her designee. Should the Mayor and Borough Council determine that a license shall be revoked or suspended or that there are reasonable grounds for refusing to renew a license due to failure of an applicant to comply with the provisions of this chapter, the Borough Clerk shall immediately notify the applicant or licensee that the governing body will hold a hearing on whether or not said license shall be revoked, suspended or renewed if the applicant or licensee files a notice of appeal of said determination with the Borough Clerk within 10 days of the date that notice of the determination is received by the applicant or licensee. The Borough Clerk, upon receiving such notice of appeal, shall inform the applicant or licensee of the time, date and place of the hearing, which shall be held no less than 10 days nor more than 20 days from the date of service of said notice of appeal upon the Borough Clerk. The applicant or licensee shall then have an opportunity to be heard on the issue of whether or not said license should be renewed, revoked or suspended. An applicant or licensee shall have the further right to appeal any subsequent determination of the Borough Council to the Superior Court of New Jersey within 20 days after service of a resolution setting forth such determination.
Suspension from the rotating wrecker list will be a suspension of police towing privileges only. The towing company will remain licensed during the suspension period and will be bound by the rules and regulations governing the licensing of wreckers within the Borough.
A tow truck operator who has been terminated from the rotating wrecker list shall be considered unlicensed and must reapply for a license at the conclusion of the termination period.
A tow truck operator who has been either terminated or suspended from the rotating wrecker list shall be responsible for responsible for the adherence to towing rates, storage charges and service fees as set forth in § 155-31 (wrecker fees) for police-towed vehicles that remain on the tow truck operator's lot during the suspension or termination period.