Borough of Spotswood, NJ
Middlesex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Spotswood 11-1-1999 by Ord. No. 1999-590. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Vehicles and traffic — See Ch. 199.

§ 209-1 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
BUSINESS LOCATION
A base of operation that is staffed during normal business hours every weekday and Saturdays, excluding holidays. The business must be clearly marked with signs identifying the name of the business and the hours of operation. The business location must include a fenced-in lot for the storage of towed vehicles, and must meet the location requirements set forth in § 209-5A and B as applicable. In lieu of a fence, a well-lit storage lot which can be observed by passing patrol cars is acceptable. However, if Borough police officials determine at any time that the security of the lot is inadequate, it may require the installation of a security fence and/or additional lighting in order for the operator to maintain a police tow list wrecker license.
CRUISING
Driving a wrecker along a public highway at a slow speed or in some other fashion obviously intended to solicit business.
HEAVY WRECKER
A vehicle used to tow or remove other vehicles which have registered gross vehicle weights in excess of 10,000 pounds.
OPERATOR
Anyone who engages in the business of operating a wrecker or heavy wrecker. It is not necessary that the vehicle used is owned by the operator. A person who leases, borrows or otherwise obtains a wrecker or heavy wrecker shall be considered an "operator." However, the term does not include a person hired by another to drive a wrecker or heavy wrecker.
POLICE TOW LIST WRECKER LICENSE
Entitles a wrecker operator to be placed on the rotational police tow list.
WINCHING
Hauling or hoisting a vehicle into position so as to enable a wrecker to attach, tow, or remove the vehicle and which operation is separate and distinct from customary hoisting of a vehicle onto a flatbed or rear of a wrecker.
WRECKER
A vehicle used to tow or remove other vehicles usually so damaged or disabled that they cannot proceed under their own power. It also refers to the operator of a wrecker as defined herein.

§ 209-2 License required.

Every wrecker operator and heavy wrecker operator who applies for a police tow list wrecker license, or wishes to be called by the Police Department for customer requests and/or fatal accident response, must be licensed by the Borough and meet the requirements of this chapter.

§ 209-3 Investigation; required equipment; issuance of license.

A. 
Wrecker license applications must be obtained from the Borough Clerk. Completed applications, along with a sketch of the property indicating where towed vehicles will be stored, must be returned to the Borough Clerk with the appropriate fee. A list of all drivers who will operate licensed wreckers must be included with the wrecker license application. The address, driver's license number, date of birth and social security number of the applicant and all wrecker drivers must be included.
B. 
The Borough's Zoning and Code Enforcement Officer shall ensure that every Spotswood based wrecker business location is a zone approved for wrecker operations.
C. 
All wrecker license investigations shall be conducted by the Borough Police Department. The investigation shall include a criminal history check and a motor vehicle record check of all wrecker license applicants and a motor vehicle check of their drivers. Each wrecker must be personally inspected by a police officer assigned this duty to ensure compliance with the following requirements which requirements shall be continually met by an applicant during the license period.
(1) 
A valid DMV registration and, if required, a valid inspection.
(2) 
A valid DMV amber light permit.
(3) 
Insurance: $75,000 (property damage) and $500,000 (personal injury).
(4) 
Emergency lights: visible at 3/4 mile and can be seen over the towed vehicle.
(5) 
One fire extinguisher (five-pound carbon dioxide or dry powder).
(6) 
One broom and a debris container.
(7) 
One steering lock bar.
(8) 
The business name and location on the wrecker (as required by N.J.S.A. 39:4-46).
(9) 
A minimum of five gallons of absorbent granules for cleaning up fluid spills.
(10) 
A reflectorized safety vest.
(11) 
Portable lighting equipment (heavy wreckers only).
(12) 
The wrecker and its equipment in good condition.
D. 
The results of each investigation and inspection shall be reported to the Borough Council which shall approve or reject the application within 30 days after receiving the written report of the investigation and inspection. In addition wrecker license applications may be denied for any of the following reasons:
(1) 
Incomplete, inaccurate or falsified application.
(2) 
Unsafe or inadequate towing vehicles and/or equipment.
(3) 
Noncompliance with this chapter.
(4) 
The business location is not in a zone where the use is permitted (Spotswood locations only).
(5) 
The owner pleaded guilty or was convicted of a zoning or property maintenance violation in Spotswood during the 12 months preceding the application date.
(6) 
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.
(7) 
Inadequate or insecure storage facility.
E. 
Wrecker licenses shall be issued by the Borough Clerk upon the approval of the application by the Borough Council. All licenses shall expire on December 31 of each year.

§ 209-4 Fee.

A. 
The annual fee for a license to operate a wrecker shall be determined by the following schedule:
(1) 
Police tow list wrecker license, regular wrecker: $100.
(2) 
Police tow list wrecker license, heavy wrecker: $100.
B. 
The police tow list wrecker license fees are per vehicle. All fees are nonrefundable.

§ 209-5 Police tow list eligibility.

A. 
Regular wreckers. In order to be eligible to apply for a police tow list wrecker license for a regular wrecker, an operator's business location, including the storage yard, must be within five miles of the Spotswood Municipal Building. All operators must also meet the response time requirements listed under § 209-6.
B. 
Heavy wreckers. In order to be eligible to apply for a police tow list wrecker license for a heavy wrecker, an operator's business location, including the storage yard, shall be located in the Borough of Spotswood, or immediately adjacent thereto, in order to ensure response time, as required by § 209-6B.

§ 209-6 Operational requirements.

A. 
Assignment of services. Towing services are assigned to police tow list wrecker operators on a rotational basis. However, when a need arises for an expeditious tow, the nearest licensed wrecker operator may be called. If the operator is on the rotational tow list, the call shall count as the operator's next turn. Subsequent wrecker requests shall be assigned to the operators who were skipped. When a motorist requests a specific wrecker operator ("customer request"), and the operator is licensed to tow in the Borough, the requested operator shall be called. If the requested wrecker operator is on the rotational tow list, the call shall count as the operator's next turn. Police tow logs shall be available for inspection by any licensed operator during regular business hours.
B. 
Response time.
(1) 
From the time of dispatch by police headquarters, wreckers shall arrive on the scene within the following time limits:
(a) 
Regular wrecker.
[1] 
8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.: 20 minutes.
[2] 
6:00 p.m. to 7:59 a.m.: 25 minutes.
(b) 
Heavy wrecker:
[1] 
8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.: 20 minutes.
[2] 
6:00 p.m. to 7:59 a.m.: 30 minutes.
(2) 
When a police tow list wrecker operator's response time exceeds the time limits, the called wrecker shall be canceled and the operator shall lose his turn on the rotational tow list. The next operator on the police tow list shall then be dispatched. Prevailing weather and road conditions should be considered prior to canceling a wrecker for excessive response time. In addition to losing a turn on the rotational tow list, police tow list wrecker operators who exceed the response time limits shall be subject to the penalties set forth in § 209-11 for each violation. All police tow list wrecker operators must provide twenty-four-hour, seven-day service. In addition, they must respond to a minimum of 80% of their calls each month. The Police Department will monitor compliance by conducting a monthly review of the Police Department's tow records.
C. 
Routine police tows. Vehicles towed due to breakdown, accident, criminal arrest, etc., shall be taken immediately to the operator's business location unless the vehicle driver or the police request otherwise. Vehicles shall be locked and parked in the secure area of the operator's business location. If any of the vehicle's windows are broken, a tarp or other nonporous material shall be applied to protect the vehicle's interior from the elements.
D. 
Police holds. If a police officer requests a police hold on a vehicle, a police hold card shall be completed by the officer and given to the wrecker driver at the time of the tow. The police hold card shall be attached to the vehicle's rear view mirror to prevent its unauthorized release. The only reason for a police hold shall be for further police investigation. All police hold vehicles should be towed directly to a designated police impound as a contract tow. However, if a vehicle must first be towed to police headquarters for processing and/or evidence removal, the contract tow operator shall comply. The operator shall then be entitled to two tow fees, one to police headquarters and one to the police impound.
E. 
Conditional release. A conditional release card shall be used to indicate that a vehicle may be released provided certain conditions are met. For example, a vehicle that was towed because the driver was revoked or unlicensed may be released to a licensed driver. A vehicle that was towed because it was uninsured or unregistered may be released if proof of insurance or registration is presented. Storage charges shall begin to accrue after a twenty-four-hour grace period on a conditional release. Conditional release vehicles shall not be released from the wrecker facility until the owner/driver produces a release authorization card obtained from police headquarters.
F. 
Motorcycles, go-cars, minibikes, ATVs, etc. All motorcycles, go-carts, minibikes, ATVs, etc., shall be towed by a flatbed wrecker. If a police hold has been placed on the vehicle, it shall be transported to a designated police impound as soon as possible, and no storage charges are to be assessed. If a police hold is not placed on the vehicle, the operator shall store it at his business location and standard storage rates shall apply. The vehicle shall be placed inside a building or protected from the elements with a tarp or some other nonporous material. If a juvenile is involved in the operation of the towed vehicle, the investigating officer must approve the release of the vehicle.
G. 
Storage of vehicles and removal to a police impound.
(1) 
Vehicles that are towed due to a police request shall not remain on the wrecker operator's property longer than 15 chargeable storage days. After the 15th day, the vehicle shall be towed to an impound yard, as directed by the Police Department, by the wrecker operator who provided the initial tow. Storage and towing charges shall be assessed against the owner or other responsible party by the wrecker operator on a Borough provided receipt form. A copy of the receipt form must accompany the vehicle when it is towed to any impound yard.
(2) 
Once a vehicle is accepted at an impound yard, the Police Department shall send a registered letter to the owner advising him of the vehicle's location and current towing and storage fees. If the owner pays the wrecker operator the towing and storage costs, the vehicle will be released. However, if the owner decides that he no longer wants the vehicle, he must sign the title over to the Borough. The towing and storage fees will be listed as the minimum bid for the vehicle, which will be sold by the Borough at the next auction. If the owner fails to respond to the registered letter, the Borough may apply to the DMV for title and sell the vehicle at the next auction. The towing and storage fees will be listed as the minimum bid.
(3) 
The maximum number of vehicles which may be stored on a Spotswood based operators property shall conform to the requirements of Chapter 120, Land Development, and/or other development regulations.

§ 209-7 Towing rates and other charges.

A. 
Passenger vehicles.
[Amended 12-16-2002 by Ord. No. 2002-044; 12-15-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-16]
(1) 
The maximum rates that can be charged by an licensed wrecker operator for towing passenger vehicles (including vehicles listed under § 209-6F) to his business location or to any location within the Borough of Spotswood are as follows:
(a) 
8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.: $125.
(b) 
6:01 p.m. until 7:59 a.m.: $150.
(2) 
Additional charges.
(a) 
Winching (24 hours): $100 plus tow fee.
(b) 
Service call (8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.): $85, plus cost of consumables.
(c) 
Service call (6:01 p.m. to 7:59 a.m.): $100, plus cost of consumables.
B. 
Trucks.
[Amended 12-15-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-16]
(1) 
The maximum rate that can be charged by any licensed heavy wrecker operator for towing a truck to his business location or to any location within the Borough of Spotswood is as follows: $250 (24 hours).
(2) 
Additional charges:
(a) 
Air line connection: $50.
(b) 
Removal of a bumper: $50.
(c) 
Use of a wheel lift: $50.
(d) 
Brake releases (per axle): $50.
(3) 
The above rates apply only to typical tow situations. Additional charges must be justified by a documented need for additional personnel, equipment, and/or supplies.
C. 
A wrecker operator and a motorist may agree to the payment of a fee in excess of the amount specified in this section when unusual difficulties and/or distances are involved. Such agreements shall be without prejudice to the right of the motorist to apply to the Police Department for a refund of part of the fee paid on the grounds that it was exorbitant or that the motorist was induced to pay it by reason of misrepresentation, duress or some other unfair conduct by the wrecker operator.
D. 
If a motorist requests to have his or her vehicle taken to a location within the Borough other than the wrecker operator's business location, the wrecker operator shall comply if the motorist has either cash or a credit card to pay for the tow charges. There shall be no additional charge for towing a vehicle to any location within the Borough of Spotswood. If a wrecker operator is based on the Borough of Spotswood, there shall be no additional charge for towing a vehicle to the operator's business location. If a motorist requests to have his or her vehicle taken outside the Borough, but within Middlesex County, and the wrecker operator is able to comply with the request, the charge shall be $3 per mile beyond the boundaries of Spotswood, regardless of the time of day. The motorist is responsible for negotiating the terms of a tow beyond the boundaries of Middlesex County. No driver or owner of a wrecker shall demand or receive any commission, gratuity or other payment other than the established or agreed-upon fee for towing a disabled vehicle. No operator shall refuse to accent Master Card, Visa or cash as payment for services.
E. 
Maximum vehicle storage charges are as follows:
[Amended 12-16-2002 by Ord. No. 2002-044; 12-15-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-16]
(1) 
The daily passenger vehicle storage fee, which begins after a twenty-four-hour grace period, shall be $60. "Passenger vehicles" includes automobiles, motorcycles, go-carts, minibikes, ATVs, etc.
(2) 
The daily storage fee for trucks, omnibuses with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or over, shall be $75.
(3) 
The daily storage fee for tractor cabs and/or a trailer, with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds, shall be $75.
(4) 
In the event a vehicle is stored on municipal property by the Borough of Spotswood, a storage fee, which begins after a twenty-four-hour grace period, shall be $50 per day.
F. 
Wrecker licensees shall provide every customer with a Borough of Spotswood towing receipt for the towing and storage fees paid. Blank receipt forms shall be available from the Police Department at no charge to licensed operators. The receipts shall specify the maximum towing and storage charges, and explain the right to appeal to the Chief of Police if a customer feels the charges are excessive.

§ 209-8 Applications for adjustment of charges; hearing.

The application to the Chief of Police provided for in § 209-7C shall be made within 30 days of the incident. It shall be in writing and contain sufficient information to properly identify the date, time and place, as well as the parties involved in the incident. Upon receiving the application, the Chief of Police shall set a date for a hearing and notify all parties involved. The hearing shall be conducted before the Chief of Police in accordance with law and due process. The Chief of Police shall determine what part, if any, of the fee was exorbitant or was paid as a result of misrepresentation, duress or other unfair practices. The amount determined by the Chief shall be immediately refunded to the complainant by the wrecker operator. Failure to immediately refund the overcharge will subject the operator to license revocation proceedings upon a hearing with notice and in accordance with the law.

§ 209-9 Signed application and release authorization.

In addition to the information required by the provisions of this chapter, applicants shall submit a signed application and release authorization on application forms available in the office of the Borough Clerk.

§ 209-10 Regulations.

A. 
The following information shall be prominently displayed on the driver's side of every licensed wrecker:
(1) 
The Borough of Spotswood wrecker license number.
(2) 
A Borough-issued rate plate listing the rates charged.
(3) 
The date of inspection of safety equipment.
B. 
No driver or owner of a wrecker shall attempt to divert patrons of one garage to another garage or repair facility.
C. 
No driver of a wrecker shall engage in cruising as defined in § 209-1 or otherwise interfere with the progress of traffic on public highways.
D. 
All wrecker operators and their agents and/or employees are required to wear red or orange traffic vests with adequate reflective material for night use when working in the roadway.
E. 
All wrecker operators and their agents and/or employees shall comply with Borough ordinance regarding the parking of trucks and commercial vehicles on Borough of Spotswood streets as well as in residential areas, including private driveways, if the vehicle dimensions exceed limits specified in the ordinance.
F. 
All wrecker operators and their agents and/or employees shall perform reasonable cleanup of all debris associated with an accident or breakdown. All debris and fluid spills shall be removed from the scene and disposed of properly by the wrecker operator and/or his employee. All licensed wreckers shall carry a minimum of five gallons of absorbent granules for motor vehicle fluid spills.
G. 
All wrecker operators and their agents and/or employees shall be experienced in the towing of vehicles. Unsafe or improper towing methods may result in immediate suspension from the police tow list. A wrecker license may be revoked by the Borough Council after notice and hearing in accordance with § 209-6B.
H. 
All wrecker operators are responsible for ensuring that their agents and/or employees are familiar with this chapter. Wrecker operators shall be held responsible for any violations of this chapter by their agents and/or employees.
I. 
Before a new driver may operate a licensed operator's wrecker, he must first be investigated and approved in accordance with § 209-3A and D(6).
J. 
Every year, typically during the month of December, a meeting will be held at police headquarters for all licensed wrecker operators. A representative of every licensee shall be present at the annual meeting.

§ 209-11 Violations and penalties.

A. 
For a violation of any provision of this wrecker ordinance, except § 209-6B (wrecker response time limits), police tow list wrecker licensees shall be subject to the following penalties:
(1) 
First violation in any given calendar year will result in a warning letter.
(2) 
Second violation in any given calendar year will result in a fifteen-day suspension from the police tow list.
(3) 
Third violation in any given calendar year will result in a thirty-day suspension from the police tow list.
(4) 
Fourth violation in any given calendar year will result in a suspension from the police tow list for the remainder of the calendar year, or for 90 days, whichever is greater.
B. 
For a violation of any provision of this chapter, including § 209-6B (wrecker response time limits), basic wrecker licensees shall be subject to possible license revocation upon hearing and in accordance with law.
C. 
For a violation of § 209-6B (wrecker response time limits), police tow list wrecker licensees shall be subject to the following penalties:
(1) 
First violation in any given calendar year will result in a warning letter.
(2) 
Second violation in any given calendar year will result in a seven-day suspension from the police tow list.
(3) 
Third violation in any given calendar year will result in a fourteen-day suspension from the police tow list.
(4) 
Fourth violation in any given calendar year will result in a twenty-eight-day suspension from the police tow list.
(5) 
Fifth violation in any given calendar year will result in a suspension from the police tow list for the remainder of the calendar year, or for 56 days, whichever is greater.

§ 209-12 Enforcement.

The municipal officers and/or agencies designated to enforce the provisions of this chapter in accordance with due process of law are the Borough of Spotswood Police Department and the Borough of Spotswood Zoning and Code Enforcement Officer, where applicable.