[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Boonton by Ord. No. 582. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The following words and terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
- A private passenger automobile, station wagon, van, sport utility vehicle or pickup truck up to and including 1/2 ton.
- BASIC TOWING SERVICE
- The removal and transportation of an automobile from a highway, street or other public or private road, or a parking area, or from a storage facility, and other services normally incident thereto, but does not include recovery of an automobile that has left the roadway and does not include any additional labor required to clean up the scene.
- DAYTIME HOURS
- From 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., prevailing time.
- INSIDE BUILDING
- A vehicle storage facility that is completely indoors, having one or more openings in the walls for storage and removal of vehicles, and is secured by a locking device on each opening.
- A motorcycle, motor bike or bicycle with motor attached and any other motor-operated vehicle similar to a bicycle or tricycle, including all-terrain vehicles.
- NIGHTTIME HOURS
- From 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 a.m., prevailing time.
- OUTSIDE SECURED
- An automobile storage facility that is not indoors and is secured by a fence, wall or other man-made barrier that is at least six feet high and is equipped with a passive alarm system or a similar onsite security measure. The facility is to be lighted at night.
- OUTSIDE UNSECURED
- An automobile 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 building or outside secured.
- RECOVERY OF VEHICLE
- The recovery of an automobile from a position beyond the right-of-way or berm, or from being impaled upon any other object within the right-of-way or berm. It shall also include the recovery of a vehicle which is overturned or on its side.
- TOW VEHICLE
- A vehicle equipped with a boom or booms, winches, slings, tilt beds, wheel lifts or under-reach equipment specifically designed by its manufacturer for the removal and transport of private passenger automobiles.
- Any motor vehicle other than an automobile, as defined above, and which requires heavy-duty towing.
- Moving a vehicle by use of the cable or winch from a position that is not accessible for direct hookup by conventional means of loading onto a tow vehicle. It shall not include pulling a motor vehicle onto a tilt bed or car carrier or lifting a vehicle with a conventional tow sling.
- YARD TOW
- The removal of the vehicle from the towing operator's storage yard for the benefit of another towing operator who is taking the vehicle from the storage site and whose tow vehicle is physically unable to gain access to the vehicle while it is inside the storage yard.
Removal of motor vehicles. Whenever a police officer orders the removal of an automobile from private or public property, the officer shall utilize the rotation lists established in § 133-2B of this chapter.
Towing operators. Every three years the Township Committee shall establish by resolution a list of automobile towing operators and a list of truck towing operators to be utilized by the Police Department on a rotating basis. An operator may, if qualified, be on both lists. Such lists shall be utilized by members of the Police Department on a nonexclusionary and nondiscriminatory basis. Only those towing operators who meet the minimum standards of operator performance set forth in this chapter shall be included on such lists. There shall be no limit on the number of operators on either list. Operators may be added to the list at any time.
Application. Each owner of a towing service that applies to be a towing operator for the Police Department must execute the Authorization by Subject of Request and Privacy Act Notification area of Form SBI-212A and SBI-212B (Request for Criminal History Record Information for a Non-Criminal Justice Purpose) and submit to a criminal background investigation pursuant to N.J.S.A. 53:1-20.5 et seq. This investigation shall include disclosure of any crime, misdemeanor or violation of any municipal ordinance, the nature of the offense and the punishment or penalty assessed. Additionally, the Chief of Police shall also cause the applicant to be fingerprinted for the purpose of a criminal history check. All applicants must submit a cashier's check, certified check or money order drawn on a United States bank in the amount of $49, payable to the Division of State Police — SBI, for the criminal history search. If the applicant is a corporation, then this requirement shall apply to the officers of the corporation. As a result of such investigation, the Chief of Police shall note, in writing, his recommendation and his reasons therefor to the Township Clerk. The Township Clerk shall present the completed application, along with the recommendation from the Chief of Police as to whether the application shall issue, at the next regularly scheduled public meeting. If the Township Committee so directs, the Township Clerk shall approve the application.
Equipment. All towing operators shall meet the following requirements:
For classification as an automobile towing service, the operator must possess at least one flatbed-style tow vehicle and one hoist-type tow vehicle with a sling and wheel lift.
For classification as a truck towing service, the operator must have at least one heavy duty tow vehicle capable of towing a fully loaded tractor-trailer weighing 80,000 pounds.
All towing vehicles must have amber emergency warning lights mounted on the vehicle as to warn approaching traffic of their presence. The size and location of these lights must conform to New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicle standards. The operator must have an amber light permit.
All towing vehicles must carry a copy of the rate schedule established by the Township. Said schedule must also be displayed in a conspicuous manner at the operator's place of business.
Facilities. Each operator must have a storage lot and place of business within three miles of Boonton Township. The towing business and storage lot must comply with all zoning ordinances and regulations in the municipality in which they are located.
Availability and response time. Each operator must be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and must respond within 20 minutes during daytime hours and 30 minutes during nighttime hours of the original telephone call request by the Police Department.
Automobiles and motorcycles. The fee schedule for towing services and storage shall be established by the Township Committee by resolution.
Trucks. Towing operators shall charge reasonable fees for towing trucks, taking into account the size of the vehicle being towed, the time of day and day of the week and difficulty of the towing operation. Each operator on the list shall promulgate a fee schedule and file copies of that schedule with the Police Chief and the Township Clerk. Each of these schedules shall be available for public inspection at the office of the Township Clerk during normal business hours.
Department of Insurance regulations. Towing charges and storage charges for private passenger automobiles that are damaged in accidents or that are recovered after being stolen are subject to the rates established by the Commissioner of Insurance at N.J.A.C. 11:3-38. In those cases the rates established by the Commissioner of Insurance and not those set forth in this chapter shall be applicable.
Release of impounded vehicles. No impounded vehicle is to be released without proper authorization from the Police Department. Vehicle release arrangements must be available from the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday (excluding New Jersey state holidays), and Saturdays by appointment. The Township shall supply junk titles or good titles for abandoned vehicles in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 39:10-1 et seq.
Each operator on the approved lists shall furnish the Township Clerk with a certificate of insurance from an insurance company satisfactory to the Township. Each certificate of insurance shall identify the coverage provided and shall provide that such insurance shall not be changed or canceled without giving 10 days' prior written notice to the Township by certified mail, return receipt requested. Specific reference to the rotating lists of towing operators shall be made on all policies of insurance.
Each operator must have bodily injury liability, property damage liability, employer's liability, motor vehicle liability and garage keeper's liability coverage with combined policy limits of $1,000,000. Each approved operator must also have statutorily required workers' compensation coverage.
Each operator shall indemnify and save the Township harmless from all damages and claims for damages which may be made by any person for bodily injury or property damages resulting from the operator's performance.
Enforcement. The Police Department is designated to enforce the provisions of this chapter in accordance with due process of law. In carrying out the provisions of this chapter, the Police Chief is hereby authorized to adopt additional reasonable regulations which are not inconsistent with this chapter.
Abandoned or unclaimed vehicles.
Any vehicle which is not claimed by the owner within five days of impoundment shall be reported by the operator storing the vehicle to the Police Department, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:10A-1 through 39:10A-7.
After expiration of the five-day period, the Police Department shall make application for title to the Division of Motor Vehicles as per standing general orders. Vehicles which remain unclaimed after all requirements of the general orders are met shall be auctioned off to recover towing costs, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:10A-1 through 39:10A-7.
Any operator found to be disposing of vehicles in violation of this procedure will be charged with misapplication of entrusted property (N.J.S.A. 2C:21-15) and will be prohibited from providing service to the Township.
Rights of owners.
The owner of any vehicle towed shall have the right to remove property belonging to him or her from the stored vehicle unless a "police hold" is marked on the towing form.
The vehicle owner or his or her representative shall have the right to take photographs of stored vehicles during normal business hours.
Public inspection. This chapter, all regulations adopted by the Police Chief and the fee schedules of individual tow operators shall be available to the public during normal business hours.
Operator dealings with public.
The operator shall always act in a professional manner and at all times be courteous and respectful toward members of the public, as well as representatives of the Township. If members of the public, especially those whose cars may have been towed or impounded, resort to strong language, threats and unbecoming behavior toward the operator, the operator is expected to exercise restraint and not to respond in kind and thereby reflect unfavorably on the Township and/or the Police Department.
Repeated reports of discourteous behavior by the operator, which can be substantiated and documented, may be considered by the Township as sufficient cause for removal of the operator from the rotational list of automobile towing operators and truck towing operators as established consistent with § 133-2B.
Complaint and hearing.
The governing body shall have the right to suspend or revoke any towing privileges issued pursuant to this section for good cause upon written complaint of the Police Chief. In the event that a towing operator fails or refuses to retain the proper equipment, personnel or facilities necessary to perform the services required for towing operators, or that the services performed are not satisfactory or violate any provision of this section, rule or regulation duly adopted, the Police Chief shall file a written complaint with the governing body that there is probable cause for revocation or suspension. Written notice of such complaint and the basis of the complaint shall be given to the towing operator, and said operator shall be entitled to a hearing before the governing body prior to final determination of the complaint by the governing body.
Any operator who violates any section of this chapter, in addition to any other penalties provided by law, shall be subject to suspension of towing privileges for one month for a first offense, three months for a second offense, and six months for a third offense. If the operator commits a fourth offense its right to provide towing services to the Township shall be permanently revoked, and the towing operator shall be removed from the list of approved operators.
Any operator who violates the operator rate schedule shall receive a fine of $250 and suspension of towing privileges for one month. A second violation will result in a fine of $400 and suspension of towing privileges for six months. A third violation will result in a fine of $500 and permanent revocation of towing privileges.
In all cases, if an operator overcharges a vehicle owner, the excess moneys paid shall be returned by the operator to the owner within 10 business days.
A towing operator may be removed from the list adopted pursuant to § 133-2B, by resolution of the Township Committee, if its performance is determined to be unreliable or inadequate. If there is a breach of any of the provisions of this chapter or applicable regulations, an operator may be removed from the list by the Chief of Police pending action by the Township Committee.