[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Hopatcong 4-2-1992 by Ord. No. 13-92. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Vehicles and traffic — See Ch. 231.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- GOVERNING BODY
- The governing body of the Borough of Hopatcong.
- The Borough of Hopatcong.
- A person, firm or corporation who owns and/or operates a vehicle which by reason of being disabled or unlawfully upon said roads requires towing services.
- The Police Department of the municipality and/or the state police and/or county police or such other police as may have jurisdiction upon the roadways on which vehicles may be found in this municipality.
- POLICE CHIEF
- The Chief of Police of the Borough of Hopatcong or, in his absence or disability, the next highest ranking officer.
- POLICE DEPARTMENT
- The Police Department of the Borough of Hopatcong.
- TOWING OPERATOR
- A person, firm or corporation engaged in the business of providing wrecker services and storage services for vehicles towed, which services are made available to the general public upon such rates, charges and fees as determined by this chapter and who is licensed under the provisions of this chapter.
- A vehicle driven by mechanical power and employed for the purpose of towing, transporting, conveying or removing any and all kinds of vehicles or parts of vehicles which are unable to be operated under their own power, for which a service charge or fee is assessed.
No towing operator shall operate within the municipality without obtaining a license in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. Specifically exempt from this license requirement is the towing, transporting, conveying or removing of vehicles from private property within the municipality or by towing operators which are directly and privately engaged or designated by the owner of the vehicle to be towed, transported, conveyed or removed.
Equipment requirement. No license shall be issued to a towing operator who does not possess for utilization in its business the following equipment, which equipment shall be inspected by the Police Chief or his authorized representative prior to a license being issued and a report of said inspection furnished to the governing body.
Said equipment shall be designated as follows:
All towing operators must own or lease and have available at least two conventional tow trucks or one flatbed tow truck and one conventional tow truck.
The minimum safety equipment to be carried on all trucks shall include a universal towing sling; low hooks and chains; one snatch block for three-eighths- to one-half-inch cable; two high-test safety chains; an auxiliary safety light kit to place on the rear of the towed vehicle; a four-lamp or three-lamp revolving amber light; a tool box with an assortment of hand tools; rear working lights and rear marker lights; cab lights; body clearing lights located to clear towed vehicles; a blocking choice for the wrecker while working; safety cones; a steering wheel lock or tie-down; and a reliable radio communication system.
[Amended 2-4-2004 by Ord. No. 1-2004]
All towing operators trucks shall be equipped with radio communications, cellular telephones and/or beepers, enabling them to maintain contact with their places of business.
[Amended 2-4-2004 by Ord. No. 1-2004]
All towing operators' trucks shall be equipped with brooms and shovels for the purpose of clearing debris off roadways.
All towing operators' trucks shall have the name, address and telephone number of the towing operator on each side of the vehicle in letters and numbers at least three inches in height.
The towing operators' principal place of business shall mean where the tow vehicle is stationed when not in use and shall meet the following standards:
Storage area. A towing operator shall own or lease a storage area for the placement of towed vehicles, which area shall meet the following standards:
It shall be located no more than 10 miles from the boundaries of the municipality measured on any roadway traversing the municipality.
It shall be lighted at night and surrounded by a security fence at least six feet in height.
It shall always have available vacant space for at least five vehicles.
It shall be available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year and open to the public on weekdays during normal business hours, which are designated as 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and limited hours on Saturdays and Sundays, which are designated as 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.
[Amended 3-4-2015 by Ord. No. 2-2015]
Application. Every applicant for a license shall submit the completed municipal application no later than April 1 each year for the license year which shall run from May 1 to April 30, together with the required fee, to the Municipal Clerk. The application shall include the following information:
The name of the person, firm or entity making the application, his or its residence and business address and telephone number.
A full description of all licensed towing vehicles that will operate in the municipality, together with a colored two-by-three-inch photograph of the same.
A list of all equipment maintained on each tow vehicle.
A copy of the insurance policy in force and a statement from the insurance company and/or its agent that said policy is in full force and effect.
Whether the applicant, or any shareholder, officer or employee of the applicant, has been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude and, if so, the nature and details of the offense.
A list of all employees, together with photostats of their driver's licenses, which will operate the tow vehicles in the municipality.
A sworn statement or affirmation by the person signing the application that the information therein given is full and true and known to him to be so.
A full description of the storage facility, including the owner thereof, its address, size, location and type of enclosures, and a photograph of the same. If not owned by the applicant, a copy of the lease shall be attached.
Investigation of application. Upon receipt of the application, and the required fee and documents, the Clerk shall forward it to the Police Chief, who shall investigate the information contained therein and submit his report to the governing body within 30 days from the receipt thereof by the Clerk, setting forth his recommendation and reasons why the license should or should not be issued.
Issuance of license by governing body. Upon review of the report of the Police Chief, the Clerk shall issue the license provided the application is complete unless the Police Chief does not recommend issuing the license. Any applicant who is denied a license shall have the right to request in writing a hearing before the governing body. The hearing shall be held on notice to the applicant, to determine whether a license should be granted to the applicant.
Fees paid pursuant to this chapter shall not be refundable for any reason.
The fees shall be for a full-year term, and there shall be no pro-rata reduction in the fee.
All licenses issued shall be for a period of one year, regardless of the date of application, and shall commence on May 1 of the year of said application and run until April 30 of the succeeding year.
In accordance with N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.49 and to assure for safe and efficient towing service throughout the municipality, all qualified towing operators shall be issued a towing license. There shall be no limit on the number of licenses to be issued by the municipality.
Indemnity. The tow operator shall indemnify and hold harmless the municipality and any of its agents, officers and employees from any and all claims for personal injury or property damage against the municipality or its agents, officers and employees arising out of the operation of any towing services or repair services under this chapter. The tow operator shall further defend the municipality and its agents, officers and employees at the tow operator's expense in connection with any claim, demand, suit or action brought against the municipality or its agents, officers and employees and arising out of the operation of any towing, storage facility, garage or repair service under this chapter and any license issued pursuant thereto.
Insurance. The tow operator shall be required to maintain, during the life of the license, comprehensive general liability insurance, comprehensive automobile liability insurance and workers' compensation insurance, with limits of not less than those set forth below.
Comprehensive general liability insurance. The limit of liability shall not be less than $500,000 combined single limits (bodily injury and property damage) per occurrence and aggregate, including premises operations and products/completed operations.*
Automobile liability insurance. The limit of liability shall not be less than $500,000 combined single limits (bodily injury and property damage) per occurrence.*
Workers' compensation insurance: Statutory coverage, including liability coverage with a limit of at least $100,000.
Excess umbrella in the amount of $1,000,000 giving protection in excess of the $500,000 general and auto liability coverage.
On all liability policies, the municipality shall be named as an additional insured, and insurance certificates shall indicate such coverage.
Insurance coverage shall indemnify the municipality, its agents, officers and employees and the public against any loss due to injuries, accidents or damages of any character whatsoever, where any such damage is the result of an act or omission of the tow operator or his agents or employees in or due to the execution of the work called for under the license.
The tow operator shall provide the municipality with certificates of insurance evidencing the coverages required above. Such certificates shall provide that the municipality be given at least 30 days' prior written notice of any cancellation of, intention not to renew, or material change in such coverage.
Failure to provide and continue in force such insurance as required above shall be deemed a material breach of the license and shall operate as an immediate revocation thereof.
The following rules and regulations shall apply:
The governing body hereby designates the Police Department, generally, as its specific designee and the Police Chief, particularly, as the supervising authority to enforce the provisions of this chapter, as well as the rules and regulations adopted, with the ultimate authority vested in the governing body.
Prior to license renewal, each towing operator licensed shall be inspected for fitness by a representative of the Police Department and shall appropriately complete a new application for each year.
Each licensed towing operator at all times shall maintain and carry the necessary equipment to remove disabled or locked vehicles or equipment necessary to operate or open vehicles to enable public safety personnel to remove entrapped passengers.
Each towing operator, prior to departure from the scene of towing services, shall clean and clear the streets of any customary debris resulting from any accident at such scene and shall at all times carry the necessary equipment to perform such cleaning services.
No towing operator licensed hereunder shall respond to the scene of an accident except upon the request of the driver or owner of the vehicles involved or except upon notification through the channel of communication established by the Police Department to notify licensed towing operators of the necessity of their presence.
Refusal to tow at the scene of the towing and the type of car refused shall be reported by the Police Officer assigned to the incident to his superior. The report of refusal shall be furnished to the Police Chief as soon as practicable.
Towing operators shall arrive at the scene to which dispatched within a reasonable time after being dispatched. Under normal circumstances, such reasonable time limit is hereby defined as within 20 minutes.
When any unusual situation occurs which may threaten or be dangerous to the safety or health of the public, the Police Chief, or his designee, shall contact the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for the purpose of assuming control of the danger or threat.
Where no designation has been made, licensed towing operators are authorized to remove the vehicle to the towing operator's storage facility.
When vehicles are towed to premises controlled by the Police Department for the purpose of utilizing the vehicle or its contents as evidence or for other purposes, such vehicle shall not be released from police custody unless the owner of the vehicle furnishes the Police Department with a receipt that towing service fees have been paid.
In all cases where vehicles are to be towed for illegal parking or other offense, summons shall be issued prior to towing.
All fees must be itemized on a service bill to be provided to the vehicle operator or mailed or delivered to the owner within 48 hours. As a minimum, this bill must contain the following: the name and business address of the tow operator; the name of the employee performing the towing; the location of the storage area containing the vehicle; and an itemized list of services performed and the fee charged for each.
The motorist shall retain the right to specify which towing operator he wishes to use or where he wishes his vehicle to be towed, provided that this request does not result in an extensive delay in clearing an accident scene and/or correcting a traffic hazard. The towing operator has a right to refuse to tow a vehicle more than 20 miles from the municipal limits.
All operators shall be capable of performing minor car service and repair at the scene or their base of operations at the time of service call. Minor car service is defined as the jump-starting of vehicles, providing fuel, changing tires and similar semiskilled activities.
Towing operators shall be responsible for all vehicles and contents in their custody.
All vehicles impounded or confiscated by the police shall not be released without prior police authorization.
Records of inspections.
The towing operator shall record all vehicles towed on forms provided by the Municipal Police Department as soon as possible after each vehicle is towed.
Records shall be kept for a seven-year period.
The towing operator shall maintain a record of all personal property in a towed vehicle that he can observe in sight at the time the vehicle comes into his possession.
Authorized representatives of the Police Department, or their designees, shall have access to any of the records required to be kept by the contractor.
Rights of owners.
Dealing with the public. In all his dealings with the public in connection with the operation, the towing operator is expected always to act in a professional manner and at all times to be courteous and respectful toward members of the public.
Such additional rules and regulations that may be adopted by the governing body by resolution shall apply. A copy of any such rule or regulation shall be forwarded to each towing operator by certified mail, return receipt requested.
Each tow operator shall be placed on a rotational list completed by the Police Chief. Such licensee shall be called upon to respond to the needs of the Police Department of the municipality on a structured rotational basis.
Tow operators shall advise the police dispatcher if they are unable to respond to a call and the reason therefor.
Tow operators shall notify the police dispatcher if a vehicle is gone upon their arrival.
The Police Chief shall establish a structured rotational procedure and provide each tow operator with a copy thereof. It shall list when an operator shall be charged or not charged for failing to respond to a call and how he will be rotated on the call list.
[Amended 8-1-1996 by Ord. No. 19-96; 2-4-2004 by Ord. No. 1-2004; 6-7-2006 by Ord. No. 22-2006]
All towing and storage fees shall conform to those requirements as set forth in N.J.S.A. 17:33B-47 and 17:33B-48 and N.J.A.C. 11:3-38 et seq.
Towing services. The fees set for towing rates are the maximum charges that shall apply to a private passenger automobile for basic towing services rendered as a result of an accident, theft recovery, removal as directed by the Borough, or for any vehicle unable to be operated for any reason under its own power. There shall be no additional charges for flat bedding, waiting time, winching, cleanup costs and additional labor, when only basic towing services are provided.
The towing rates shall be a flat fee from any point in the Borough to any other point in the Borough regardless of mileage.
Tow vehicles transporting multiple passenger cars at one time shall receive the applicable fees for each vehicle transported.
The flat rate charge shall apply at all times regardless of when the towing shall occur.
The following is the fee schedule for towing services:
[Amended 4-18-2012 by Ord. No. 10-2012]
Days, nights, weekends and New Jersey State holidays. From any location within the Borough to any other location in the Borough: a flat rate of $125.
From any location within the Borough to any location outside of the Borough: a flat rate charge of $125 and a mileage fee to be agreed upon by the owner and tower. If no fee is agreed upon, the tower shall tow the vehicle to its storage facility to allow the owner to make alternate arrangements for the removal of the vehicle.
Unless the officers at the scene deem it necessary to impound the vehicle for evidence purposes, the owner or operator may designate the location to where the vehicle shall be transported.
As a condition of licensed approval, the tow operator shall provide towing services upon request to the Borough of Hopatcong for towing of municipal vehicles at the following rate schedule:
Storage fees. The fees set forth for storage fees are the maximum storage charges per twenty-four-hour period that shall apply to a private passenger automobile that is stored by a person as a result of an accident or theft recovery or towed as a result of being unable to be operated for any reason under its own power.
No vehicle shall be stored inside a building unless authorized by the owner, operator or by the police officer on duty at the scene when the police officer deems it necessary to utilize the vehicle or its contents as evidence.
All fees to be paid to an operator by the Borough for the storage of removed motor vehicles shall not exceed the following:
Editor's Note: N.J.S.A. 17:33B-47 was repealed by L. 1997, c. 387, § 6, effective 1-19-1998.
The governing body shall have the right to suspend or revoke any license issued pursuant to this chapter 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 chapter, rules 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.
No license issued pursuant to this chapter may be assigned, transferred, sold or posted as collateral.
Any transfer of ownership, with or without consideration, in a licensee's business shall render the license immediately void. In the event of sale or transfer, the new applicant, if any, shall make a new application, pay fees and be approved by the governing body.
[Amended 2-4-2004 by Ord. No. 1-2004]
Any operator, person, firm or corporation engaged in the removal of motor vehicles who engages in a pattern or practice of knowingly violating the fee limits established herein shall, upon conviction thereof, be subject to a civil penalty of not less than $25 or more than $50 for each motor vehicle stored with the operator, person, firm or corporation.