Why you may want to avoid Ocean City this week

Ocean City does not want to see the problems it has in the past with an unofficial car rally, so it’s actually warning people what to expect and even discouraging people from coming to the Maryland resort this week.

In 2019, the renegade car enthusiasts caused a number of problems that resulted in more than 1,500 police citations and 121 arrests. Videos posted on social media showed clashes with the police and cars striking people.

Starting Tuesday, here’s what to expect in Ocean City:

  • A lower speed limit of 30 mph along Coastal Highway as part of a “Special Event Zone.” Speeding fines can go as high as $1,000.
  • The largest deployment ever of Maryland State troopers, according to OC Today.
  • Higher penalties for “exhibition driving” — driving where there’s skidding, squealing wheels, smoking tires, excessive engine noise, etc.
  • Jail time for up to 60 days for violations.
  • Towing fines of $600, not the previous $325.
  • 30 towing companies on standby, working with police.

In years past, Ocean City once hosted the now-defunct “H2Oi” car show, but people on social media continue to organize online and show up in late September.

At the time, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan said that “can never happen again.”

Under new state law approved through the Maryland Legislature’s Special Event Zone Bill, police can rrest people for unauthorized exhibition driving and certain other offenses.

Indications are the car owners may come back this week with pop-up rallies, so the special enforcement in Ocean City starts Tuesday and runs through the weekend.

Police Chief Ross C. Buzzuro said people can expect to see “several hundred police officers working throughout the pop-up rally weekend.”

In a YouTube video, Buzzuro said traffic patterns will change, and “there will be major obstructions to traffic, and it will be uncomfortable. If you don’t have business in town or need to drive in town, then don’t.”

“Due to the pop-up car rally, this upcoming weekend is not going to be a typical fall weekend at the beach,” Meehan said in a statement.

“We encourage our residents to avoid traveling on Coastal Highway if possible, as traffic is going to be unusually heavy,” he said.

Meehan is also discouraging visitors from showing up during this time period.

“We pride ourselves on being a coastal community that everyone can enjoy year-round, but unfortunately, we are asking everyone to please exercise caution before deciding to visit Ocean City this weekend,” Meehan said.

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Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Colleen Kelleher

Colleen Kelleher is an award-winning journalist who has been with WTOP since 1996. Kelleher joined WTOP as the afternoon radio writer and night and weekend editor and made the move to WTOP.com in 2001. Now she works early mornings as the site's Senior Digital Editor.

Ken Duffy

Ken Duffy is a reporter and anchor at WTOP with more than 20 years of experience. He has reported from major events like the 2016 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, 2016 Election Night at Trump Headquarters in Midtown Manhattan and the 2007 Super Bowl in Miami.

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