[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Commissioners of the City of Union City by Ord. No. 1997-2 (§ 8-14 of the 1996 Revised General Ordinances). Amendments noted where applicable.]
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ABANDONED VEHICLE
- Any vehicle so designated by the Police Department.
- The Director of Public Safety of the City.
- The license issued to a licensee pursuant to this chapter.
- LICENSE INSPECTOR
- An individual in the office of the City Clerk who shall process the license.
- The individual or entity obtaining a license pursuant to this chapter.
- An individual or entity who or which owns or leases and/or operates, parks or abandons a vehicle within the City.
- Officers of the Union City Police Department.
- POLICE DEPARTMENT
- The Police Department of the City.
- STORAGE SERVICE
- The storage of vehicles by a towing operator.
- TOWING OPERATOR
- An individual or entity engaged in the business of providing towing services and storage services.
- TOWING SERVICE
- The towing service rendered by a towing operator to a motor vehicle, including, but not limited to, an automobile, truck, motorcycle, van, scooter, tractor trailer or bus, together with any other heavy equipment, at the request of the City which is not regulated by N.J.A.C. 11:3-38.1 et seq.
- Any powered or nonpowered object operated or intended to be operated in a City street.
- A motor vehicle equipped and employed for the purpose of towing, transporting, conveying or removing any other vehicle which is abandoned, disabled and/or in violation of any state or local laws, for which a service fee or charges are exacted.
Editor's Note: Repealed by R. 1999, effective 1-4-1999.
No towing operator shall operate within the City for police-requested towing service and/or storage services unless the towing operator has obtained a license issued by the City.
No towing operator licensed by the City shall apply for two or more licenses which operate from the same location.
Owner-requested service. No license shall be required for the on-site repair and/or towing or storage of any vehicle when the request is received by the operator from the owner prior to a police request.
Towing from private property. No licensee shall be required by the police to tow any vehicle from private property without the consent of the owner except on the express instruction of the police in the event of an emergency.
A license shall be issued for one calendar year commencing January 1, or for any shorter period when the license is issued after January 1, and shall expire on December 31 of the year issued. Licenses not renewed by January 1 shall be deemed expired. There are no "hold over" licenses.
Information required on form. An application for a license shall be in writing, signed by the applicant, and shall contain all information necessary to evidence the applicant's identity and legal address, compliance with the requirements of this chapter and ability to perform the towing services and storage services contemplated by this chapter.
Filing. Applications shall be filed with the License Inspector, together with a certified check for the application fee set forth in Chapter 155, Fees. The City Clerk shall give 15 days' public notice in an official newspaper of the City of the date on which the license applications are to be received pursuant to this chapter.
Any licensee must have at least three years' experience as sole proprietor, partner or as an employee in the towing of vehicles in order to be considered for the issuance of a license.
The licensee must be of good business character and reputation.
The licensee must provide a list of all towing contracts for which performance thereunder is or may be required, in each case listing the name of the individual or entity with whom or with which the contract is made and the date of expiration thereof.
The licensee shall submit proof of ownership by record title of the required number of wreckers, the make, model, year, license plate number and registration number of each truck, a copy of the registration for each truck and copies of current and valid insurance policies and cards satisfactory to the Director.
Applications received by the License Inspector shall be referred within 10 business days to the Director of his/her designee for review.
Authorization. The Director shall authorize the issuance of a license or licenses after consideration of the applications and a determination is made that all of the requirements have been met for the license.
Issuance. The authorized license or licenses shall be issued by the License Inspector, in writing, upon payment by the towing operator of the license fee set forth in Chapter 155, Fees.
Towing list. The licensee shall be placed on the rotating tow list in the order of receipt of completed application and fulfillment of all of the requirements for the license.
The schedule of nonrefundable fees for the obtaining of a license is set forth in Chapter 155, Fees.
The Director shall have the right to suspend any license issued under this chapter upon determination that there is probable cause for revocation or suspension based upon any violation of this chapter. Written notice of the basis of the violation shall be issued to the licensee, and the licensee shall be entitled to a hearing before the Director or his or her designee within two weeks of receipt of that notice. In the event that the Director determines that a violation has occurred, he or she may:
Required equipment. A towing operator, when filing an application for and at all times while holding a license under this chapter, shall own or lease and have available for use in performing the services required by the license the following items of equipment:
Three light-duty wreckers.
Safety equipment to be carried on all trucks shall include:
Universal towing sling, except flatbeds.
"J" hooks and chains.
Snatch block for cable 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch.
Two high-test safety chains.
Auxiliary safety light kit to place on the rear of towed vehicles.
Four-lamp or three-lamp revolving amber light or light bar.
Tool box with an assortment of hand tools.
Rear working lights, rear marker lights, cab lights and body-clearing lights located to clear towed vehicle.
Safety cones, shovel and broom.
Steering wheel lock or tie-down.
Two-way radio communication system.
Necessary equipment to remove disabled or locked vehicles upon the signing of the proper waiver form.
Each wrecker shall include one set of dollies.
Chassis requirement for wreckers must be a minimum of 10,000 pounds gross weight.
Tow truck lettering. All tow trucks shall be properly lettered on both sides in accordance with N.J.S.A. 39:4-46.
Maintenance. All equipment used by a licensee in performing its obligation under the license shall be maintained in good and safe conditions and may be inspected for such condition by the police at any time, wherever located. Any deficiency in such condition reported by the police to the licensee shall be promptly corrected, and any failure to correct may be cited as grounds for suspension or revocation of the license pursuant to this chapter.
Equipment. Every heavy-duty tow truck licensee shall have one heavy-duty vehicle of 30,000 gross vehicle pounds minimum.
Equipment for snow and heavy rain. All tow truck licensees, whether light or heavy, shall have all necessary equipment to be able to provide the same towing services as required by this chapter in all severe weather-related occasions, including snow or heavy rain.
Indoor secured storage. Each licensee shall have an indoor secured area for storage of one vehicle with a separate stall to accommodate a full-size car or van and a door to which the Police Department can attach its own padlock.
General storage. Each licensee, in addition to Subsection A above, shall have a minimum of 7,500 square feet secured and fenced area for storage of at least 20 vehicles.
Equipment facility. Each licensee shall have an area and facility adequate for the storage and servicing of the required equipment specified in § 397-11 when not in use.
Location; hours; condition of facilities.
The required storage and equipment facilities shall be located within two miles of the City limits. The hours of recovery of vehicles from storage shall be from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight every day. The facilities shall be kept clean and in good order to accommodate persons who may enter the facilities with respect to any vehicles stored therein.
All land to be utilized by the licensee for vehicle storage must be level.
Zoning. The storage area must be in an area which permits the towing and storage of vehicles.
Proof of permission to use lot. Each licensee must furnish evidence that (s)he has proper and lawful permission to use the lot(s) where vehicles are to be stored. Such evidence must include the deed(s) to the property or the lease to the same, thoroughly describing the property as to its location. The lease must encompass the entire license period.
Use restrictions. The land shall not be used for the storage of vehicles owned by the licensee with the exception of towing equipment owned by the licensee.
Storage. All vehicles must be stored to prevent damage and so arranged as to permit inspection and subsequent removal when released or disposed of in accordance with the chapter.
Identification number for towed vehicle. The licensee shall affix an identification number, as directed by the Police Department, to each towed vehicle in order to more easily locate the vehicle when it arrives at the storage area.
Each tow truck driver must have an appropriate valid New Jersey driver's license with no restrictions or conditional endorsements, except conditions requiring glasses. Each driver shall be of good moral character, mentally alert and present a neat appearance at all times.
It shall be mandatory that each vehicle has been issued registration and insurance as required by law.
The licensee, all tow truck drivers and other personnel of the licensee shall be fully trained and knowledgeable in tow truck and storage operation and equipment, and be subject to background investigation by the police. All of the foregoing individuals shall personally register at the Police Department. The cost of such background investigation shall be borne by the licensee.
A license may be disqualified for criminal convictions unless waived by the Director.
No licensee shall employ, directly or indirectly, any officers of the Police Department.
Towing and storage services shall be governed by the following provisions:
There shall be two rotating lists of licensed towers. The first list is for light-duty tows, including, but not limited to, cars or motorcycles. The second list shall be for heavy-duty tows, including, but not limited to, buses or heavy trucks. Every licensee who applied to the City shall request to be placed on either or both of the light- and/or heavy-duty tow list. If the licensee wants to be on both lists, it must maintain all of the equipment as set forth for both lists. The police shall determine if a light- or heavy-duty tow service is required. Once the determination has been made, the police shall call the next licensee on the rotating list to provide service.
Licensees, in the order on the rotating list, shall be called by the police desk officer or other officer expressly authorized to communicate such request to dispatch one or more tow trucks to arrive at the scene to which dispatched within a reasonable time. For normal circumstances such reasonable time shall be deemed to be within 15 minutes. If the licensee cannot arrive at the scene within 15 minutes, the police shall call the next licensee on the list until it can find one capable of responding in a timely fashion. If the police desk officer shall not find any tower on the appropriate list to provide the required service, the police shall contact any other tower to perform this service for this instance.
A licensee shall immediately notify the police it is wholly or partially not operational due to failure of any equipment or any personnel insufficiency, and shall furnish such details thereof as may be required by the police.
The tow trucks of a licensee will not cruise and will not respond to any scene where towing may be required except upon police request or as permitted herein.
No flashing lights or sirens shall be used on a tow truck except as permitted by the Police Department under applicable law.
All tow trucks shall be operated in accordance with all existing traffic regulations and in a safe and prudent manner. Tow truck drivers will request police assistance during the course of services when they find it necessary to turn around and back up, tow in a direction opposite to normal traffic, to cross a median or other required help.
Each licensee will be responsible for all vehicles, and the visible contents in their custody, that are towed off the roads under direction of the police.
No vehicle will be removed from City streets or highways traversing the City without the proper authorization from the police at the scene or owner, as the case may be.
The police officer investigating the incident is in complete charge of the incident scene, excluding actual towing operations, and all drivers shall comply with the officer's instructions.
Each licensee, prior to departure from the scene of towing services, shall clean and clear the streets of any debris resulting from any accidents at such scene, and at all times carry the necessary equipment to perform such cleaning services.
In the event a licensee refuses to tow at the scene of the incident or refuses to tow when requested by the owner, the police officer assigned to the incident shall report the refusal to his/her superior with all pertinent details. The report of the refusal shall be furnished to the Director as soon as practicable for evaluation of the licensee's performance of its obligation under the license. No licensee shall be required to tow any vehicle in an unsafe manner or in such a way as to cause further damage to the vehicle towed or the towing vehicle.
At 12:00 noon every Friday each licensee shall provide the Police Department with a list of unclaimed vehicles in its custody. In addition, a copy of every bill issued for a tow along with the method of payment shall be provided to the police once a week.
Vehicles impounded or confiscated by the police and stored by the licensee shall not be released by the licensee without written authorization by the police.
The licensee shall make the necessary provisions to release a vehicle to the owner between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 midnight every day.
The licensee must post, in a conspicuous place, fees set by the City for tow and other services as set forth by this chapter or by the State of New Jersey.
The licensee shall not interrupt the police radio transmission with regard to the towing services.
The Director may issue rules and regulations from time to time on the operation of towing services and storage facilities to implement, but not exceed, the purpose of this chapter. Such rules and regulations shall be issued by publication in a newspaper in the City. Copies shall be maintained in the office of the City Clerk and mailed to each licensee by the City.
The licensee must handle the removal of all abandoned vehicles without expense to the City. The Director, or his/her designee, reserves the right to assign City-wide removal of abandoned vehicles to a single licensee.
All proceeds received from an auction or sale of vehicles in storage, pursuant to this chapter, shall be deposited with the City Treasurer. In the event the proceeds from such auction or sale shall be insufficient to pay the accrued towing and storage charges, the City shall not be liable. The licensee shall accept such limited proceeds as full payment.
The City and its police shall not be liable to a licensee with respect to service rendered to any owner pursuant to the license or otherwise. The licensee shall look only to the owner of such vehicle for payment of service charges or any other compensation.
The licensee shall have in effect, prior to application and at all times during the term of the license, the following insurances:
Automobile (bodily injury, liability, property damage), combined single limit: $500,000.
Premises liability (bodily injury, liability, property damage), combined single limit: $500,000.
Umbrella (excess third-party liability): $1,000,000.
Garage keeper/legal liability, per location: $200,000.
Worker's compensation: in accordance with New Jersey state requirements.
The licensee shall supply a certificate of insurance to the City Clerk describing each of the foregoing insurance policies along with a copy of the insurance policies identifying the City as an additional insured. Each such certificate of insurance shall contain a provision that no cancellation of the policy shall become effective until after the expiration of 30 days' written notice of such proposed cancellation forwarded by the insurance company to the Director.
The insurance certificate submitted to Union City must include a thirty-day notice to Union City of cancellation or nonrenewal of the insurance. There must be a ten-day notice clause for cancellation or nonrenewal of the insurance due to nonpayment of the insurance premium. Cancellation or nonrenewal of the insurance during the license term shall be grounds for immediate suspension or termination of the towing license.
The application of any towing operator for a license pursuant to this chapter shall include an agreement by the towing operator that, upon the issuance of a license, the licensee shall indemnify the City against all claims of third parties relating to towing services and storage service.
The Police Department shall provide, when requested, licensees with Department of Motor Vehicles information regarding registered owners and lien holders. The information requested and given shall be in conformance with N.J.S.A. 39:10A-1 et seq., and shall not in any way violate the confidentiality that is reposed in the Police Department.
The license shall not be transferred or assigned, nor shall the domicile of any licensee licensed hereunder be changed without the prior written consent of the Director.
The rates a licensee may charge for towing and storage services are regulated in part by the New Jersey Department of Insurance, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 11:3-38.1 et seq. Under those circumstances in which the regulations are not applicable, the rate schedule listed herein shall apply.
Editor's Note: Repealed R. 1991, effective 1-4-1991.
No licensee may charge in excess of the following rates for services, including towing, conveying, repairing, servicing or storage of the vehicles:
Fuel delivery: road service charge plus current fuel costs per gallon.
The licensee shall charge only one-day storage for each twenty-four-hour period to commence from the time on the ticket tow sheet.
Service charge. A service charge, as applicable herein, shall be charged if the subject vehicle has been hooked up to tow, but has not left the scene.
Sales tax. The above charges are subject to the New Jersey state tax.
Charges for snow emergency. A towing operator can charge 25% more than the rates set forth in this rates schedule if the City declares a snow emergency.
The regulations and fee schedule for licenses established herein shall be made available to the public during the normal business hours of the City in the office of the City Clerk. The regulations and fee schedules shall be posted in a conspicuous place at the licensee's place of business.
Any towing operator responding to a request for towing or storage services by a private party shall not exceed the maximum rates listed in § 397-23.
The towing operator shall be available to communicate with the necessary police or other City personnel by telephone or beeper number. No communication shall be permitted via the police radios.
The Director, Licensing Inspector, Code Enforcement Official, or any private person is hereby authorized to file a complaint with the Director and/or Municipal Court to enforce the provisions of this chapter.
Violation of this chapter shall be subject to a minimum fine of $250 per violation with the maximum penalty not exceeding $1,250 and/or imprisonment of 90 days and/or community service of 90 days. Any additional fine imposed by the court for a repeat violation of this chapter shall not be less than the minimum or exceed the maximum penalty fixed for such violation.