[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the City of Hoboken 9-21-2011 by Ord. No. Z-131. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this chapter is to establish mercantile licensing for, and rules and regulations associated with, the towing and storage of motor vehicles from public roadways within the City limits of the City of Hoboken.
The provisions of this chapter shall apply to any entity that engages in towing and storage of motor vehicles within the City limits of the City of Hoboken for the benefit of the public.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ABANDONED VEHICLE
- A motor vehicle which the owner or operator leaves on a public roadway and fails to notify the police or does not attempt to repair and remove the same within a reasonable period of time.
- ACCIDENT VEHICLE
- A motor vehicle which has been involved in an accident.
- AUTHORIZED AGENT OF THE OWNER
- Any individual who is not the owner who provides sufficient proof of authority, provided by the owner, to represent the owner's interests with regard to a motor vehicle.
- BASIC TOW
- The towing of a vehicle at the request of the Hoboken Police Department or Hoboken Department of Parking and Transportation either to the towing service's storage site from the point of call or to City Hall from the storage site.
- The City of Hoboken.
- The Director of the Department of Parking and Transportation.
- DISABLED VEHICLE
- Any motor vehicle which is unable to operate under its own power.
- HEAVY-DUTY TOW
- The recovery of any motor vehicle over 7,500 pounds' gross vehicle weight which requires the vehicle to be uprighted or recovered from either on or off the traveled portion of a public roadway.
- HEAVY-DUTY TOWING LIST
- The annual rotating list of all heavy-duty towing services registered with and licensed by the City of Hoboken.
- IMPOUNDED VEHICLE
- A vehicle which, at the discretion of the Police Department, is taken into police custody because the operator of the vehicle was engaged in a violation of the law.
- LICENSED TOWING SERVICE
- A business engaged in the towing and storing of motor vehicles within the City of Hoboken which has registered with the City of Hoboken and been provided a mercantile towing license by the City Council.
- A towing service which has been provided a municipal towing license by the City of Hoboken.
- LIGHT-DUTY TOW
- The recovery of all vehicles 7,500 pounds' gross vehicle weight or less.
- MOTOR VEHICLE
- All vehicles propelled otherwise than by muscular power, including trailers and recreational campers, excepting such vehicles as run only upon rails or tracks and motorized bicycles.
- The registered title holder of a motor vehicle.
- STORAGE RATES
- The fees charged for the storage of vehicles, assessed as required in this chapter.
- TOWING LIST
- The annual rotating list of all towing services registered with and licensed by the City of Hoboken.
- TOWING RATES
- The fees charged by the towing service for recovery of a motor vehicle from the initial site to the storage site or from the storage site to City Hall.
- TOWING SERVICE
- A business engaged in the towing and storing of motor vehicles. When used herein without referring to heavy duty or light duty, the term shall include both types.
- TOWING VEHICLE
- A motor vehicle employed by a towing service for the purpose of towing, transporting, conveying or removing motor vehicles from public roadways.
No entity or individual shall operate a towing service within the City limits unless such entity or individual shall have obtained a towing license issued by the City Clerk of the City of Hoboken, in accordance with this chapter.
No such license shall be issued except upon the approval of the Director.
The City shall license up to six light-duty towing services annually. The City shall license up to three heavy-duty towing services annually. In any year in which a greater number of towing services apply than the number of licenses available, the City shall conduct a random lottery, at the direction of the Director, to determine which towing services shall be licensed.
Each license issued shall be assigned a number, and a sticker shall be obtained, indicating the towing service's name, the assigned number and the year of licensure. The sticker shall be visibly placed on each towing vehicle which shall be utilized under this chapter.
Application for a towing license shall be made on an annual basis to the Director on or before November 1. Application shall be made on forms provided by the Director which shall be made available on an annual basis on or before September 1. No late applications will be allowed.
Licensees shall be named on or before January 1 of each year and shall provide the services under a license, as described in this chapter, from January 1 to December 31.
No towing service shall be placed upon the annual towing list for the towing or storing of motor vehicles within the City until the service shall be registered with the City and provided a towing license by the City Council. No towing license shall be supplied to a towing service unless that service meets the following criteria:
Light-duty towing services must have and utilize a storage site located within five miles of the City limits.
Heavy-duty towing services must have a storage site located within 25 miles of the City limits.
Towing services must provide proof of ownership or similar property rights, a final certificate of zoning compliance and a certificate of occupancy for any and all storage sites to demonstrate control over the site as well as to demonstrate that the site and the proposed use on the site complies with all zoning and building codes.
Towing services must maintain insurance at or above the requirements described in N.J.S.A. 56:13-12.
Towing services must provide evidence of all towing equipment that may be utilized in servicing the City of Hoboken, demonstrating current motor vehicle registration, motor vehicle licensing and vehicle insurance.
Towing services must provide evidence of ownership or a leasehold of at least one flatbed and one wheel lift.
Towing services must provide a statement of corporate ownership and a stockholder disclosure statement.
Towing services must provide such other items as the Director of the Department of Transportation shall require by administrative rule or regulation, in his or her discretion.
Towing services must provide a list of all customer service representatives employed by the entity.
Towing service providers must provide evidence that their internal software system is internet capable and must certify that they will, at their own cost and expense, purchase and utilize software which is compatible with the City's towing software system.
Towing service providers must certify that they will operate their storage site in accordance with the regular business hours and after-hours required by the Director. The Director shall provide the required hours, in writing, as part of the annual application.
Towing service provides must certify that they agree to provide towing services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, within 15 minutes of being summoned.
All applicants agree to maintain the following during the term of the license:
Tow truck drivers shall have and maintain a valid driver's license for the tow vehicle that they operate.
Within two years of the effective date of this chapter, all licensees shall maintain the following:
Tow truck drivers that operate tow vehicles under a City of Hoboken towing license must maintain the Towing and Recovery Association of America (TRAA) National Driver Certification Level 1 or other nationally recognized certification.
Drivers that operate the heavy-duty tow truck must obtain the Level 2 certification.
General employees shall have TRAA Level 1 certification or other nationally recognized certification.
To perform any recovery operation, the licensee must have at least one employee certified as a TRAA Level 3 or other nationally recognized certification.
Failure to supply all required material will render an applicant unqualified for a license in that calendar year. Such failure shall have no effect on the same towing service's ability to qualify for a license in subsequent years.
No sworn member of the City of Hoboken Police Department shall be permitted to own greater than 10% of any towing service licensed by the City.
Each application shall be accompanied by an administrative fee of $1,000, payable to the City of Hoboken, which fee shall be in addition to any other fees, including but not limited to fees for criminal background checks. Said fee shall be held by the City until such time as licenses are granted in the quantities described in § 184-4. Any applicant who does not qualify for a license, and any applicant who qualifies but does not receive a license as a result of the lottery, when applicable, shall have his or her administrative fee returned.
The Director has the authority to investegate each applicant for a towing license to determine whether the individual or entity is of good moral character and to determine whether the vehicles and equipment of the entity or individual are in such condition that they can be operated in a safe and efficient manner.
The Director shall have the right to investigate the driving history, criminal background and financial stability of any individual or entity applying for an annual towing license.
Any negative history relating to an applicant which is 10 years or older may not be considered by the Director as part of the investigation.
No towing license shall be transferred from the entity or individual named on the initial application except upon proper application to the Director and prior written approval of the Director. Transfers shall only be considered for approval upon death of an individual licensee or upon sale of 50% or more of a business licensee.
Separate and distinct lists shall be maintained for heavy-duty tows and light-duty tows.
The City shall, by lottery, determine the numerical placement of each licensee on the annual list. On the first day of each month, the licensee at the top of the list from the previous month shall be placed at the bottom of the list. The licensee at the top of the list shall be summoned first for each call. If any licensee summoned refuses to provide the service, can only provide partial service or fails to present on the scene summoned to within 15 minutes of the call, the next licensee on the list shall be called. Each individual listed in Subsection E shall maintain his or her own list and perform this procedure independent of all other individuals listed therein.
The City shall begin at the top of the monthly list for each service call.
The procedural details of the rotating system for summoning licensees shall be developed by, and amended, as necessary, at the discretion of the Director. The procedure and any amendments thereto shall be in writing and shall be made available to the public upon request.
Licensees may only be summoned by the Chief of Police, or his authorized agent, the Director, or his authorized agent, the Mayor, or his authorized agent, the Director of Public Safety, or his authorized agent, and the Chief of the Office of Emergency Management.
Licensed towing services may charge fees to vehicle owners for the following services:
Basic tow, which shall be a maximum flat fee of $100 for light-duty tows and $450 for heavy-duty tows.
In the case of a motor vehicle involved in an accident, the following additional services, if actually performed:
Waiting time in excess of 15 minutes, which shall be calculated based upon each 15 minutes spent at the call site from which a motor vehicle will be towed, with fewer than 15 minutes rounded up to 15, which shall be a maximum fee of $12.50 per 15 minutes.
Brush cleaning, including collection of debris that can be picked up by hand, which shall be a maximum flat fee of $25.
Site cleanup, which shall be calculated based upon the number of bags of absorbent used, at a maximum rate of $25 per bag.
Winching, which shall be based upon each 1/2 hour spent performing winching, which shall be at a maximum rate of $50 per 1/2 hour for light-duty vehicles and $200 per 1/2 hour for heavy-duty vehicles.
The use of window wrap, which shall be a maximum flat fee of $40.
Tarping, which shall be a maximum flat fee of $40.
Transmission disconnect, which shall be charged only if a motor vehicle is locked and the towing company is unable to obtain the keys for the motor vehicle, which shall be a maximum flat fee of $40.
Use of a flatbed tow truck, which shall be charged if a motor vehicle can be transported only by a flatbed tow truck, which shall be a maximum flat fee of $125.
Use of special equipment other than the first tow truck to recover a motor vehicle that cannot be recovered by winching or pieces of a motor vehicle that cannot be moved by hand, which may be both a labor and an equipment charge billed in half-hour increments at $65 per 1/2 hour.
Decoupling, which shall be a maximum flat fee of $75.
Storage at a towing company's storage facility, which shall be at a maximum daily (24 hours) rate of $30 for light-duty tows and $100 for heavy-duty tows.
More than three trips to the motor vehicle in storage, which may be invoiced as an administrative fee by the towing service, which shall be a flat fee of $45 per trip.
Releasing a motor vehicle from a towing company's storage facility after normal business hours or on weekends, which shall be a maximum flat fee of $10.
A licensed towing service that engages in towing at the request of the City shall not charge for the use of a flatbed tow truck if a motor vehicle can safely be towed in an upright position by another type of tow truck, even if the private property towing company chooses to use a flatbed tow truck for the tow.
A licensed towing service that engages in towing at the request of the City may not charge for the tolls it incurs driving to the site from which a motor vehicle will be towed and while towing the motor vehicle from that site to the towing company's storage facility.
A licensed towing service that engages in towing at the request of the City shall calculate storage fees based upon full twenty-four-hour periods a motor vehicle is in the storage facility. For example, if a motor vehicle is towed to a storage facility at 7:00 p.m. on one day and the owner of the motor vehicle picks up the motor vehicle before 7:00 p.m. the next day, the towing company shall charge the owner of the motor vehicle only for one day of storage. If a motor vehicles is stored for more than 24 hours, but less than 48 hours, the towing company may charge for two days of storage. However, time shall not begin to accrue for purposes of calculating storage fees until 12:00 midnight next following the time the vehicle reaches the storage site.
A towing company performing a private property tow or other nonconsensual tow shall take the motor vehicle being towed to the towing company's storage facility having the capacity to receive it that is nearest to the site from which the motor vehicle is towed.
The bill for any tow allowed herein shall include the time at which a towed motor vehicle arrived at the towing service's storage site.
In addition to the fees allowed to be charged against towed vehicles within this section, the City has the authority, at the discretion of the Director, to charge a tow release processing fee up to $25 per vehicle.
All persons operating a towing vehicle within the municipality, and all their agents, shall keep in their possession a pad of bills containing the owner's name and the address of his or her place of business and, before towing a vehicle, shall prepare a bill on their billhead form, in duplicate, the original of which shall be furnished to the owner or authorized agent of the owner of the vehicle.
The bill shall contain the following information:
Full name, address and business telephone number of the towing service.
Full name and address of the person engaging the towing vehicle.
State registration number of the vehicle being towed.
Maximum rates which may be charged by the towing service.
State registration number of the towing service.
Municipal license number of the towing service.
Address of the storage site to which the vehicle will be towed.
Licensees shall not furnish estimates of the cost of repairs to vehicles at the site of the accident.
Licensees shall not make any repairs or cause any repairs to be made at the site of the accident, unless such repairs are necessary to effectuate the towing of the vehicle.
All bills for services, estimates and contracts relating to the towing of vehicles by licensees shall be in writing and shall conform to the provisions of this chapter. No oral agreements shall be made with vehicle owners or authorized agents of owners.
The licensee shall keep an accurate record of all towing calls made at the request of the City. The City shall be provided with a copy of all bills and invoices relating to the licensee's services to the City within 30 days of creation of the bill or invoice.
The City shall have no financial responsibility for the services provided by towing services within the City, unless provided for in N.J.S.A. 56:13-7 or N.J.A.C. 13:45A-31.1.
Towing services operating within the City shall abide by all state statutes, rules and regulations, and any violation of a state statute, rule or regulation shall be considered a violation of this chapter which may affect the rights of the licensee.
The licensee shall maintain records of all vehicles towed, stored and released by it. Records shall be kept for a four-year period. These records shall include the name of the City of Hoboken employee summoning the licensee, name of towing employee, the date and time of tow-in, destination towed, vehicle tag number and state, vehicle identification number, make, model, color and year of vehicle, itemized charges to the owner of the vehicle and the disposition of the vehicle and date thereof.
The towing operator shall maintain a record of all property found anywhere in the towed vehicle, including the trunk and glove compartment when open and where a key is available.
The Director shall, upon request, have immediate access to any and all of these records. The Department of Parking and Transportation shall conduct a quarterly audit of each tower's records and provide a written report to the City Clerk's office.
The licensee shall notify the Director, in writing, of any vehicle that is left unclaimed for a period in excess of seven calendar days.
The licensee must permit payment of fees by the use of at least two major credit cards. The City will not be held liable for, or assist the licensee in, the collection of any unpaid fees that were incurred under the provisions of this chapter.
The licensee shall incur the cost of preparing a payment rate circular for fees listed under this chapter and shall distribute this rate circular at the time of tow to all customers, at no cost, which also includes directions to the storage location, business hours, phone numbers, major credit cards accepted and other methods of payment accepted.
The Director shall have the authority to establish additional rules and regulations, as necessary, to effectuate the purpose and intent of this chapter. All rules and regulations shall be in writing, shall be mailed to each licensee within 24 hours of enactment and shall be made available to the public immediately upon request.
The provisions of this chapter shall be enforced by the Department of Parking and Transportation and the Hoboken Police Department.
In addition to any other penalties set forth within this chapter, under other City ordinances or under state law for violations by licensees, the Director may, after notice and an opportunity to be heard, suspend or revoke any annual license.
For severe violations and/or recurring violations, the Director may, after notice and an opportunity to be heard, revoke any annual license and, in addition, use such violation as the determining factor for refusing to approve subsequent annual applications for a period up to 10 years.
Unless otherwise specified herein, any individual or entity violating any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof before the Municipal Court, be subject to a fine not exceeding:
For the first offense: $1,000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding seven days, or both.
For the second offense: $2,000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 30 days, or both.
For the third or subsequent offense: $5,000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 90 days, or both.
The actual amount of each penalty shall be determined by the sound discretion of the Municipal Judge. In addition to the aforementioned penalties, and as provided for herein, violations of this chapter may subject the license to suspension or revocation as provided for herein.