NEW FOR TUESDAY: Open Container Violation Now A Criminal Matter In OC

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OCEAN CITY — Ocean City officials last night approved an emergency ordinance changing the town’s open container law back from a civil infraction to a criminal violation.

At the request of Police Chief Bernadette DiPino, the Ocean City Mayor and Council on Monday approved an ordinance to return the town’s open container law back to a criminal violation. For years, a violation of Ocean City’s open container law for alcoholic beverages in public areas was a criminal violation and often resulted in an arrest.

In 2008, the town relaxed its open container law, changing it to a municipal infraction typically resulting in a citation and a prepaid fine. On Monday, however, at the request of DiPino, the Ocean City Council approved an ordinance reverting the open container law back to a criminal violation, essentially allowing OCPD officers to make arrests or write criminal citations for an open container of alcohol.

“This ordinance change adds a valuable tool to an officer’s toolbox,” said DiPino. “By addressing minor infractions, through the ‘broken windows’ theory, we can stop situations from becoming more serious. This has been a successful police strategy in the past.”

Under the “broken window” theory, DiPino has said in the past making an open container arrest at 7 p.m., for example, might prevent the same suspect from committing a more serious crime much later, at midnight or 1 a.m. for example.

Ocean City Police are reminding citizens the new open container violation falls under the town’s code as unlawful to possess or consume alcoholic beverages on any public street, highway, alley, sidewalk, parking lot, Boardwalk or public beach within town limits. Any violation in the law may result in an arrest.

4 comments on “NEW FOR TUESDAY: Open Container Violation Now A Criminal Matter In OC

  1. As a 59 year old citizen/taxpayer I find it ridiculous that I cannot drink a beer while sitting on the beach. I understand there are some who cannot act in a responsible manner and arrest those idiots. Why punish those who are discrete and orderly just
    for drinking a beer on the beach?

    You do however allow scooters and other rental vehicles to wrecklessly cruise up and down Coastal Hwy. No helmets, insurance, etc. I guess the revenue stream from rental’s is too lucrative.

  2. I used to stay at an ocean front condo on 64th st when the old “ban” on open containers was in place. I would watch OCPD pull onto the beach and use binoculars to scan the beach blocks away. They would confront perfectly behaving young couples sitting in chairs in from of their condos and write them fine laden summons. It was an absolute insult to law abiding visitors.

    If OC doesn’t want rowdy crowds, STOP inviting teenagers that graduate and come here to party without a civil thought in their brains. Sure they bring (their parent’s) money but at what cost.

    The entire city council needs to be voted out so that leadership in this town can be returned to normalcy rather than nepotism.

  3. Staying on 56th St, I saw many similar examples. It was always the same cop who would pull onto the beach at 5PM. He would observe with binoculars as the OP said. He would also literally drive up to any group on the beach and crane his head out of the window to see if he could catch them with something. I saw him harass a middle-aged woman in a floppy hat and sun dress who was sipping a plastic cup of wine. Another group of older women sipping frozen drinks in plastic cups were equally abused. They were not a threat to anyone and were treated to incredibly rude and obnoxious harangues from this jerk. There were no “broken windows” there. Just a power hungry loser using this “valuable tool” to carry out a personal agenda. He would have been far more useful doing something about the chaos on Coastal Highway or the trash strewn inlet beach. I wonder how many of those people he abused decided to make that OC vacation their last.

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