Greater police presence, zero tolerance ticketing, and thousand dollar cumulative fines deterred possible attendees.
H2Oi 2021 attendees, Ocean City residents and fans of the end of September unofficial car meet following online all noticed a marked difference compared to previous years, there were a lot fewer cars and people.
The town reports only 134 arrests, compared with 277 in 2020, and 834 traffic enforcement reports, as compared with 1,508 in 2020.
Police made 101 tows compared to 368 in 2020 and 53 were cited for exhibition driving this past weekend – 123 in 2020.
Despite as much police enforcement and support, if not more compared to last year to prepare for larger crowds, police activity was cut in half.
So, why didn’t the usual amount of H2Oi attendees show up?
Legislation signed in 2018 and increased police presence is paying dividends.
While H2Oi attendees have unofficially been coming to Ocean City, Maryland over the better part of a decade, only recently has “The Special Event Zone “schedule of fines become general knowledge to potential attendees.
Signed into legislation in 2018, this “Special Event Zone” bill allowed police and city officials to designate certain areas of Worcester county to be under increased scrutiny and subject to a different fine schedule for certain exhibition-type driving violations.
This meant from Sept 21-26 all motorists within Ocean City were subject to
- Lower speeds (35 MPH)
- Increased fines
- Special attention paid to illegally modified vehicles
- Zero-tolerance policies for tows and arrests.
Here’s an example of the fine fee schedule that’s since now returned to normal.
Note, 1 MPH over the 35 MPH temporary speed limit puts you at risk for a $530 fine.
Rarely advertised by the city, a special tow fee schedule was also put into place that authorized tow companies to charge $600+ if they had to use special tow dollies for cars deemed dangerous for public roads.
This hit anyone showing camber, lowered too much, or with stretched tires the hardest.
H2Oi 2019 saw attendees surprised with quadruple-digit total fines and word was out Ocean City means business.
Despite the Special Event Zone bill in effect, H2Oi 2020, fueled by general boredom and malaise from local lockdowns, reached its peak attendance.
With most of the country still under mandates on differing levels and with the possibility of looming fines and tows if they drove over, those on the fence to attend this year simply didn’t show up.
Early enforcement leading up to the weekend played a large part.
Those hellbent on attending showed up. But, for those on the fence, many were monitoring social media channels to see what the vibe was and how heavy-handed police were.
With just as much police as last year and with about as half as much activity, pedestrians and cars naturally got hit even harder compared to their 2020 counterparts.
Here’s a smattering of tickets and fine stories that hit social media well before the weekend started.
If you weren’t budgeting $1,000+for fines, chances of you returning home in an Uber increased.
Decreased police activity does not tell the complete story, people STILL showed up.
While early morning and night time cruising was almost a ghost town, it doesn’t mean H2Oi 2021 attendees didn’t show up, far from it.
There were still plenty of meets, cars still cruised the Coastal Highway, and pedestrians enjoyed themselves watching those brave enough to drive.
Just check out some of the vlogs coming out in the past 24 hours.
Plenty of people showed up.
Everyone was just smarter with how they handled themselves. Drivers who knew their car was likely to get cited drove around a lot less and those that did drive were sure to attend legit meets on private property.
H2Oi 2021 is done but the unofficial meet is far from over.