Special Event Zone Expanded West

BERLIN — As expected, the special event zone in place in Ocean City this week for the unsanctioned pop-up car rally has been extended throughout northern Worcester County.

Last winter, after being brushed off the year before, resort officials were successful in Annapolis working through the local legislative delegation on getting an enhanced special event zone bill through the General Assembly. Among other things, the enhanced legislation creates a laundry list of violations under the larger umbrella of “exhibition” driving including, for example, abrupt acceleration of deceleration, skidding, swerving, spinning of wheels or wheels losing contact with the roadway.

For the first time in the evolution of the special event zone legislation, the enhanced penalties now include potential arrest for the most egregious offenses along with heaving fines and points in some cases. Thus far, the special event zone has been applied only in Ocean City proper for the last couple of years.

However, the bill as written includes all of Worcester County. During a motor vehicle task force meeting earlier this month, it was intimated the special event zone could be applied in areas of Worcester County at large, in and around the resort area, during the pop-up car rally.

On Tuesday, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office announced the special event zone was in place this week on several major roadways and access points to Ocean City.

For example, the special event zone is officially in place on Route 50 from Route 589 into Ocean City, on Route 90 from Route 589 into Ocean City, on Route 589 between Routes 90 and 50, and on Route 611 from Route 50 to Airport Road.

“The Worcester County Sheriff’s Office is anticipating an influx of car enthusiasts for an unofficial event in Ocean City and northern Worcester County this weekend,” a release from the sheriff’s office reads. “For those that are not respectful of others and drive in a reckless or aggressive manner, you can expect strict enforcement from members of this office along with allied agencies that are here to maintain law and order. There will be a focus on traffic enforcement to maintain the safety of pedestrians and other motorists along with the dispersing of large crowds. Visitors and residents should expect alternate traffic patterns, traffic delays, increased law enforcement presence and reduced speeds to help reduce know issues experienced during previous events.”

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.