West OC Checkpoint Causes Traffic Backup, Leads To One Arrest

The checkpoint is pictured on Saturday evening shortly after it began. Submitted Photo The checkpoint is pictured on Saturday evening shortly after it began. Submitted Photo

OCEAN CITY — A sobriety checkpoint in West Ocean City led to major traffic backups in Ocean City on Saturday, the unofficial day the resort and its businesses celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and the annual parade.

Shortly after 7 p.m. on Saturday, Maryland State Police (MSP) along with allied law enforcement agencies set up shop along Route 50 just west of the bridge. According to a MSP release, “The goal was to locate impaired drivers and to promote public awareness of the dangers of impaired driving.”
The checkpoint, which ended about 90 minutes after it began, resulted in 291 vehicles being checked and two drivers evaluated for impairment, according to MSP, which was joined by the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, Natural Resources Police and Berlin Police Department as well as State Highway Administration handling traffic responsibilities. One driver was arrested for driving while impaired.

Although business owners feared going on record to state their concerns, many on Saturday night were angered by the decision and location, which backed up traffic for miles in Ocean City. For example, traffic slowed around 32nd Street on Coastal Highway during the checkpoint. At various points, motorists were unable to move at all and one trip from downtown Ocean City to West Ocean City reportedly took over 45 minutes.

During the traffic backup, The Dispatch made a Facebook post alerting motorists of the traffic backup and sobriety checkpoint, resulting in a mixed reaction of comments from those appreciative of the heads up to outrage that the news organization would provide advance word to those who may be impaired and planning to head across the bridge. It’s worth noting MSP and other law enforcement agencies sent out press releases in advance of the holiday weekend detailing sobriety checkpoint plans, although they did not detail where and when they would be held.

“The St. Patrick’s Day weekend is widely celebrated in America as a celebration of Irish and Irish American Culture,” an MSP press release recapping the checkpoint wrote. “Celebrations include prominent displays of the color green, eating and drinking, religious observances, and numerous parades.  As a result, there has been a noticeable increase of impaired driving incidents during this time.


9 thoughts on “West OC Checkpoint Causes Traffic Backup, Leads To One Arrest

  1. Stopping traffic at 7PM on a Saturday night and backing up isn’t the way to go. I am glad the Dispatch let people know because I would want to go around the backup by finding another route. Not because I’m drinking but I don’t want to be stuck in traffic. I think MSP could have been more effective at other places that did not cause the backups this one did.

  2. By no means do I oppose sobriety check points, but I do not think it was the best choice of location. West Ocean City businesses also count on the crowds from St. Patrick’s Day to make some much needed revenue. Too bad that didn’t happen, would have been a nice night to have some eats in one of the fine West O restaurants.

  3. OC gets along fine all year long with local enforcement and suddenly the MSP is needed to disrupt commerce. Couldn’t somebody call O’Mally or Brown and tell them we don’t wish to live under this oppression?

  4. I think the newspaper was wrong for warning about this. I dont want drunks or impaired people on our roads. The state police have every right to do this job, as I dont think thenlocal mm pd could handlenit. W2G-MSP

  5. Msp not disrupting commerce, they r catching drunks that shouldn’t be on the roads . Should keep that dumb statement to yourself

  6. I got caught up in the checkpoint, it was pretty ignorant.
    Last time I checked it is not normal behavior to stop every car no matter what,
    Cops, should need legit probable cause I don’t care what day of the year it is.
    That said,
    I was not drunk & took the turn off into fast food joint for a soft serve Ice Cream cone,
    and zipped past everyone in line. The police had anticipated this move & had some cop sitting there, I waved at him, he just frowned at me, what a waste of tax dollars.
    The Ice Cream was delicious, I really like Ice Cream.

  7. The MSP managed to catch ONE perp with their ill timed antics. ONE perp is not indicative of an area that needs an overreacting MSP. Someone mentioned stupid. I agree, this was stupid.

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