(May 15, 2020) Gov. Larry Hogan allowed Ocean City’s proposed exhibition driving bill to pass without his signature last Thursday. 

Resort officials have been seeking increased penalties for major misbehavior behind the wheel after the unsanctioned car rally, known colloquially as H2Oi, endangered visitors, residents and law enforcement officers.

The bill passed both the Maryland House and Senate just before the General Assembly adjourned early on March 18 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The bill adds to 2018’s special event zone bill by prohibiting exhibition driving and increasing maximum fines and imprisonable actions. It defines exhibition driving as “the transportation of a passenger on (or in) an area of a motor vehicle that is not designed (or intended) for passenger transport such as the hood or roof.” 

Excessive, abrupt acceleration or deceleration of a vehicle; skidding, squealing, burning or smoking of the tires; the swerving or swaying of the vehicle from side to side while skidding; excessive engine noises; grinding of the gears or the backfiring of the engine of the motor vehicle or any of the wheels of the vehicle losing contact with the ground are all defined as exhibition driving. 

Violators could be fined up to $500. The penalty for negligent driving, racing and racing participation as a timekeeper is up to $1,000. Violators of these acts can also be jailed for up to 60 days. 

The special event zone must have signs warning of these penalties. 

Although Ocean City planned to use the special event zone legislation during Cruisin’ Ocean City for May 14-16, the event was canceled due to the coronavirus. The legislation could still be used in the fall for any kind of car rally.

Elizabeth covers Worcester County issues for Ocean City Today. In 2018, she graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa with a bachelor of arts. After graduation, Elizabeth spent a year with Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Wilmington, Delaware.

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