OC Special Event Zone Returns Tuesday With Increased Police Presence

OCEAN CITY — Preparations for the first special event zone of the season were already taking place this week in advance of next week’s 29th Annual Cruisin Ocean City event.

The special event zone, which includes reduced speed limits on roadways throughout Ocean City, increased fines for speeding and other violations and an enhanced multi-agency law enforcement presence, will be in effect starting next Tuesday, May 14, through Sunday, May 19. The official Cruisin Ocean City event gets underway next Thursday, but many participants and even those who aren’t registered will start trickling into the resort early next week, necessitating the early implementation of the special event zone.

By mid-week, evidence of the pending special event zone was already starting to be put in place including blinking digital message boards alerting motorists to the reduced speed limits and higher fines in the enforcement zone. Also conspicuous this week was the ongoing milling and repaving project along Philadelphia Avenue in the south end of town including a section of the Route 50 bridge east of the draw span and a section of North Division Street between Baltimore and Philadelphia Avenues.

According to an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) release, residents and visitors should expect to see an increase police presence throughout the resort next week with allied agencies including the Maryland State Police, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office and the Maryland Natural Resources Police assisting the OCPD.

Not only will the allied law enforcement agencies be enforcing speeding and other illicit activity associated with some of the motorized special events on the roadways, but will also be keeping a close eye on the spectators that line the streets to watch the classic cars. According to the OCPD release, spectators are urged to keep the sidewalks clear for pedestrian traffic and should not incite the spinning of wheels or burnouts by motorists. Allied law enforcement agencies will enforce all laws for spectators who incite drivers as well as cite the drivers for violations.

After a particularly troublesome motorized special event season a few years ago, a task force was formed to begin exploring ways to combat some of the reckless activity. Out of that effort came the idea of creating a special event zone of roadways throughout the resort during certain sanctioned and unsanctioned special events.

State lawmakers in 2018 passed legislation allowing for the implementation of special event zones with lower speed limits and increased fines during the spring and fall motorized special events last year. As a result, special event zones were implemented during some of the sanctioned motorized special events last year and even the unsanctioned and unofficial H2O International (H2Oi) event with considerable success.

Buoyed by the perceived success in the first year, local legislators in Annapolis this winter introduced cross-filed bills during the General Assembly session hoping to add more teeth to the existing special event zone legislation. However, the bill introduced on the Senate side was given an unfavorable report from the Judicial Proceedings Committee, although local lawmakers vowed another effort could be launched during next year’s session.

The proposed legislation would have increased penalties for certain traffic violations not included in last year’s approved bill. For example, a violator could be fined up to $1,000 if convicted of negligent driving, participating in a speed contest, skidding, spinning wheels or causing excessive noise.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.