Maryland lawyer warns: beware going “Down the Ocean”

As your Maryland lawyer, we would officially like to welcome the “unofficial” start of summer with a blog post about the Beach, the Maryland traffic citations you might get on your way there, the Maryland criminal laws you may violate while there, and what to expect as you journey Down the Oceanthis summer.  Going “Down the Ocean” is a time-honored tradition for people in Baltimore, Baltimore Metro, and DC Metro.  Many of this Maryland lawyer‘s memories as a child are from trips “Down the Ocean.”  However, many a parent’s worst nightmares are also there either as a result of potential legal issues of their own or of their children’s.  In this post, we highlight a typical Baltimorean’s trip Down the Ocean and point out some of the Maryland Criminal law violations you may encounter in your journey

Getting there: Route 50 and the Bay Bridge

Down the Ocean Hon!

There’s no real easy way around it. The northern detour is hardly a shortcut. Plain and simple, most Marylanders must cross the Bay Bridge in Annapolis and take Route 50 to get “down the ocean.” Beware of Maryland traffic citations specifically along this patch of the road.  The entire route to Ocean City is covered by not only the State Police and the Maryland Transportation Authority Police (Bay Bridge) but also local police departments in Cambridge, Easton, Salisbury, and Ocean City.  They are all gunning for your hard-earned money (literally with LIDAR).  They regularly run speed traps throughout the Route 50 corridor. For more information on the exact citation for speeding, see Md. Transportation Article 21-801 (et. al.) (points and penalties vary depending on the speed and the zone of travel).  If you’ve driven the route, you know that speed limits can range from 55 to 35 MPH and the traps come up quickly.  This Maryland lawyer knows from experience (when Mrs. Maryland Lawyer got a ticket) that it can ruin your trip, your insurance coverage, and your pocketbook.   Other Maryland traffic citations frequently seen on the way “Down the Ocean” are:

  • When you can’t wait for the red light in Easton to change – Md. Transporation Article 21-201 (et. al.) ($140 fine/2 points)
  • When the A$$#0&3 in front of you won’t speed up, and you exercise offroading techniques to pass him – Md. Transportation Article 21-304 ($110 fine/1 point)
  • If you’re bumping the person in front of you: tailgating (also known as drafting to our NASCAR neighbors in Dewey) – Md. Transportation Article 21-310 ($110 fine/2 points)
  • Fines & points are as previously described only if you pay the ticket, there was no accident involved, and it is not challenged in a Maryland Court

Once you’ve arrived “Down the Ocean” it ain’t over Hon!

First thing most Marylanders do when they get to the beach is naturally to make the food and beer run.  If you’re staying in Maryland it means two different trips. If you’re in Delaware; it’s conveniently all in one store.  Buyer beware: If you’re under 21 the police are watching out for underage possession of alcohol and having someone else buy it for you. This is especially true around the coveted “Senior Week” season.  Here’s the Maryland Criminal laws that may affect you if you are under 21 and try to buy booze:

Misrepresentation of Age: Md. Crim. Code 10-113

An individual may not knowingly and willfully make a misrepresentation or false statement as to the age of that individual or another to any person licensed to sell alcoholic beverages or engaged in the sale of alcoholic beverages, for the purpose of unlawfully obtaining, procuring, or having unlawfully furnished an alcoholic beverage to an individual.

Underage Possession: Md. Crim. Code 10-114

(a)  Prohibition.- Except as provided in subsection (b)(1) of this section, and subject to subsection (b)(2) of this section, an individual under the age of 21 years may not:

(1) possess or have under the individual’s charge or control an alcoholic beverage unless the individual is a bona fide employee of the license holder as defined in Article 2B, § 1-102 of the Code and the alcoholic beverage is in the possession or under the charge or control of the individual in the course of the individual’s employment and during regular working hours; or

(2) consume an alcoholic beverage

False Documentation: Md. Crim. Code 10-115

An individual under the age of 21 years may not possess a card or document that falsely identifies the age of the individual under circumstances that reasonably indicate an intention to violate the provisions of this part.

Penalties:

Generally, a fine is the only penalty for the above-mentioned crimes. But the notice will likely be sent to the MVA and your license could be suspended for the alcohol violation; additionally, it will show up on your record as a conviction.

Furnishing for or allowing underage consumption: Md. Crim. Code 10-117

(a)  Prohibited – Furnishing alcohol.- Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, a person may not furnish an alcoholic beverage to an individual if:

(1) the person furnishing the alcoholic beverage knows that the individual is under the age of 21 years; and

(2) the alcoholic beverage is furnished for the purpose of consumption by the individual under the age of 21 years.

(b)  Same – Allowing possession or consumption of alcohol.- Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, an adult may not knowingly and willfully allow an individual under the age of 21 years actually to possess or consume an alcoholic beverage at a residence, or within the curtilage of a residence that the adult owns or leases and in which the adult resides.

Penalty: $2500 fine first offense; $5000 second or more.

Once you got your beer, now what?

On your way back to your hotel or condo, be sure to leave the beer in the cooler, because you could be cited for an open container in a vehicle, found in Md. Crim. Code 10-123 through 127.  After you’ve settled into your home away from home, most everyone “down the ocean” goes for a stroll on the boardwalk.   Be sure to put your beer, wine, or liquor in a closed container that doesn’t look like alcohol because you could be cited for Open Container!  The violation is so serious that Ocean City’s own website doesn’t tell you how much trouble you’ll be in. According to OC’s webpage:

In Ocean City, we take laws related to alcohol consumption very seriously. Drinking alcoholic beverages in public is prohibited. This includes on any street, avenue, alleyway, sidewalk, beach, parking lot, and the vehicle in any of these areas. Possessing an open container of any alcoholic beverage in public is not allowed.

The last thing you want is another trip to the beach, in the fall, for court, when you have much better things to do.  According to this newspaper article, it carries no jail time anymore, but since we can’t verify it, be warned!

After the Boardwalk, now what?  Seacrets of course!!!

Hooper's Crab House - best on the beach

No trip “Down the Ocean” would be complete without a raucous night at Seacrets, everyone’s favorite OC night club.  Don’t forget Dead Freddies (ENlawyers favorite Harford Road wing joint), Hoopers, or several of the other clubs “down the ocean.”  If you decide to attend any of these watering holes, try to use the excellent public transportation system available in Ocean City.  If not, you’ll no doubt be looking at a Maryland DUI, with the penalties outlined here.

Other important information

H.T. to Patricia Yevics from the Maryland State Bar Association for some of this info:

Here’s a funny website from one of the OC clubs.

More information from Ocean City Maryland town government about local rules.

  • Checking traffic on the Bay Bridge

The MTA gives regular updates online about bridge traffic. Or you can call 1-877-BAYSPAN (229-7726) if you are already sitting and traffic and wondering how long your gas is going to last.

  • Where to find the cheapest gas

Gas Buddy has listings for all 50 states(Maryland), broken down by county, and an app for the I-phone and Android.

  • Other things on the Delmarva besides the Boardwalk

Take a little extra time and visit some of the other wonderful sites on the Eastern Shore.  Here are some links to some of those that may not be as well known as some other places.

Chesapeake Bay By Air – This was a wonderful program from Maryland Public Television that you can now watch on video.  Highly recommend it.

Official Site Maryland Tourism Site with links to all Eastern Shore Counties

Official Ocean City Site with listing of restaurants and activities.

Chestertown, MD – Although a little off of Rt 50, this is a lovely community with a wonderful Tea Party Event each Memorial Day Weekend.  They also have a great 10 mile foot race.

Rock Hall, MD – Another lovely historic water community which is home to Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge.

Tuckahoe State Park – This a hidden gem of a state park in Caroline County with 20 miles of trails and opportunities for canoeing.

Most people think of St. Michael’s as a quaint and upscale town but its Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is one of the best of its kind in the country.

The Blackwater Wildlife Refuge is one of the most important on the East Coast.  If you love birds, this is the place to visit.  Although the eagles are mostly there in the winter, this is still a great destination any time of year.

Where to next?

ENlawyers both plan on being “Down the Ocean” for the Maryland State Bar Association Annual Convention.  While there, we will be playing mini-golf, attending seminars on case law updates, and studying recent developments in various laws to provide the very best legal representation to our criminal and business clients.  If you plan on being “down the ocean,” be sure to be safe and enjoy yourself.

If you find yourself charged with any violations of Maryland Traffic citations, Maryland Criminal laws, an Ocean City Open Container, or get a Maryland DUI, be sure to call your favorite Maryland lawyer.  We have gone “down the ocean” for our clients before and will do it again.  Of course, if the problem is in Delaware, you can still call us, but we will have to find someone else “down the ocean” to help you out!  Enjoy your summer and be safe!