Towing Ordinance

ORDINANCE 2017-2

An Ordinance Establishing Procedures for

Towed Vehicle Auto Release and Administrative Fees

Section 101. Purpose. The purpose of this Ordinance is to establish procedures governing the release of any vehicle towed by the City of Hazleton or by an authorized tow company, and the criteria for its release when, for any legal reason, a vehicle has been removed from its location to another location of safekeeping, thereby ensuring the free, safe and efficient movement of vehicles, protection of the public and appropriate enforcement of the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

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Section 201. Definitions. The following words and phrases when used in this section shall have the meanings given to them in this section, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

  • ADMINISTRATIVE CHARGES: A fifty ($50.00) dollar administrative fee to be paid to the City of Hazleton for tasks performed by the City of Hazleton Police Department for services including, but not limited to, telephone and/or fax calls, removal of personal items, additional paperwork, auto releases, reports, abandoned vehicle paperwork, vehicle checks and clearances, and any other task related to the towing and storage of a vehicle.
  • AUTHORIZED MUNICIPAL PERSONNEL: includes any member of the Hazleton Police Department, any Hazleton Code Enforcement Officer, the City Streets Foreman, City Parking Enforcement or the Hazleton Fire Department.
  • CONSENSUAL TOW: Any motor vehicle, upon the order of the Police Department, towed as a result of involvement in an accident, or a disabled vehicle that has a valid registration, insurance, and/emission sticker, and is being operated by a licensed driver.
  • NON-CONSENSUAL TOW: Any motor vehicle, upon the order of the Police Department, towed to a Towing Operator’s storage area(s) as a result of abandonment, suspected criminal activity, official police investigation, illegal parking, and/or any violation of Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Statutes, or any motor vehicle involved in an accident or disabled, and does not have a valid registration, emissions sticker, insurance or is not operated by a licensed driver.
  • DISABLED VEHICLES: A motor vehicle which has been rendered inoperable by mechanical failure or accident. Any motor vehicle, operable or inoperable, which constitutes a hazard to the motoring public by its location, shall be deemed disabled for the purpose of this Ordinance.
  • IMPOUNDMENT: The storage of a motor vehicle upon the order of the Police Department towed/removed to the Towing Company’s storage area(s) as a result of abandonment, suspected criminal activity, official police investigation, stolen vehicle, illegally parked, and/or any violation of Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Statute.
  • OWNER: A person, firm, corporation or partnership who owns and/or operates a motor vehicle on the roads and highways within the City of Hazleton.
  • PERSON: Any natural person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company or organization of any kind.
  • POLICE: Sworn Police Officers of Hazleton Police Department.
  • STORAGE FACILITIES: The storage and/or holding of vehicles indoors or outdoors in the City of Hazleton.
  • TOW COMPANY: A company authorized to perform towing in the City of Hazleton.
  • UNCLAIMED ABANDONED VEHICLE: Any vehicle towed by an authorized Tow Company that is left unclaimed for a period (20) days in accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth with regard to abandoned vehicles.
  • VEHICLE: Every device in or upon or by which a person or property is or may be transported upon a highway, except devices moved by human power.
  • HAZLETON AUTO RELEASE FORM: Hazleton Police Department Auto Release form, completed by the Hazleton Police Department provided to the owner of a vehicle(s). Release form shall be issued to the owner immediately upon request upon completion of checks and payment of administrative fee. The Auto Release form must be supplied by the Hazleton Police Department to the owner of a vehicle and must contain the following information:
  • Date and time of tow;
  • Owner’s name;
  • Owner’s address;
  • Registration, license plate number and state;
  • Make;
  • Model;
  • Location of tow;
  • Reason for tow;
  • Administrative fee of $50.00;
  • Other fees charged (e.g., repeat offender, outstanding violations, etc.)
  • Vehicle identification number; and
  • Date and time of release.

Section 301. Release of Vehicle for Tow Company Operators: The following standards shall be followed by the tow company operator and operators of a towing company storage facility when requested to release a vehicle.

  • Release of Non-Consensual Tow: Release of a motor vehicle, which was removed upon the order of the Hazleton Police Department, the tow company must:
  • Request owner provide a Hazleton Police Department Auto Release form indicating the vehicle is authorized for release.
  • Verification that Auto Release was provided by the Hazleton Police Department.
  • Release of Consensual Tow: Release of a motor vehicle, which was removed upon the order of the Hazleton Police Department, the tow company must:
  • Contact Hazleton Police Department to verify there are no holds on said vehicle.
  • Verify ownership, valid registration and insurance prior to release.
  • No administrative fee or auto release is required for a consensual tow.

Section 401. Fees for Services.

  • All administrative fees will be collected at the Hazleton Police Department for providing the Auto Release form.
  • All charges for towing service performed by the Tower.
  • The Tower shall prepare a bill for charges pertaining to each vehicle and present it to the claimant of a vehicle.
  • The City of Hazleton will not be responsible for charges due and owing from a claimant of a vehicle, nor will it assist the Tower in collecting such charges. 
  • Any vehicle which is towed by the Tower at the direction of the Police Department or any other authorized representative of the City of Hazleton, and which vehicle is thereafter abandoned by the owner or claimant, and remains so abandoned, shall be disposed of pursuant to the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with regard to abandoned property and vehicles.

Section 501. Records 

  • The Towers shall maintain records of all vehicles towed, stored and released. Records shall be kept for a five (5) year period, unless otherwise directed.
  • Towers must possess computer equipment with software necessary to permit the following base level of statistics and information on the number of towed vehicles:
  • Keep track of all vehicles towed by vehicle identification number (VIN) and license plate number;
  • Calculate all accumulated fees; and
  • The Tower shall not release vehicles towed under this Ordinance without claimant/owner first obtaining an Auto Release from the Police Department. Any Towing Company that does not comply with this Ordinance will be removed from the towing rotation for a period of (1) year after investigation by the Chief of Police.
  • The Police Department shall verify all operators have a valid driver’s license, insurance and registration prior to authorizing the release of a vehicle.
  • The Police Department will verify any holds, investigations, stolen vehicles, warrants or repeat offenders (parking citations) prior to release.
  • If a parking citation establishes an instance to tow a vehicle, the same is not considered a reason to hold the vehicle.

Section 601. Coordination of Laws.

  • Other Hazleton City Ordinances. This Ordinance supersedes other City of Hazleton Ordinances only to the extent that those Ordinances regulate towing and storage operations that are in conflict with this Ordinance.
  • Criminal Investigations. This Ordinance shall not be used to supersede or otherwise interfere with any Federal or State criminal investigation or prosecution.
  • Federal and State Law. If any portion of this Ordinance is preempted or superseded by Federal or State law or is declared invalid by any court of competent jurisdiction, the remainder of this Ordinance shall remain in effect.

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Section 701. Effective Date. This Ordinance shall take effect 10 days after adoption.

ORDAINED AND ENACTED by Council this 21st day of February, 2017. 

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