We are proud to be a statewide Maryland law firm and to be the go-to criminal defense and DUI law firm, as the best-reviewed firm with a local office in Ocean City. We constantly are getting locals and visitors asking us about the “special event zones.” Why can you suddenly go to jail for certain offenses that may seem minor? Why are you paying a higher fine for something as seemingly tame as speeding?
The answer is the Special Event Zone legislation that increased fines and penalties in special event areas.
Basically, this is a state law passed in 2018 that makes it illegal to do certain things while an event is going on in Ocean City. Usually those events are motor-related events, such the the pop-up rally, but in what may surprise many readers, even sanctioned events can apply, including the Cruiser Weeks.
For any violations of what may be considered “exhibition driving under subsection D of Article II 17 (C) of the Maryland Constitution:
Drivers “spinning wheels,” or “speeding” or taking part in a “speed contest” or making “excessive noise” the maximum penalty that may be imposed by a judge is 60 days in jail or $1000 in fines OR both.
Normally most of these violations would be points only, but the Legislature passed the laws to allow Ocean City police to better enforce matters during special weekends in the Town.
Having aggressive representation is definitely needed in cases like these. Even people who have had no issues in their driving record face jailable penalties due to the Zones.
This has effectively curbed participation in pop-up car rallies, but has also made visitors and locals subject to the same penalties in other weekends that might also be considered event zones.
The Mayor and members of the Town Council have been vigilant for special events and when the Zone designation is appropriate. The law is specific to Worcester County and is not currently applicable to other parts of the state but do not be surprised if other areas seek to follow Ocean City’s lead.