Law Enforcement @ BurningMan

text courtesy of Will Chase -The Jack Rabbit Speaks.

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“The Jack Rabbit Speaks”- August 5th 2013


[BManUpdate] V17:#34:8.5.13



While Burning Man is certainly a remote and freewheeling place, it’s also a functioning metropolis. And just like in any other city, numerous law enforcement agencies patrol Black Rock City day and night to keep the city safe and compliant with the laws that allow us to have the event in the first place.

This JRS topic is extremely important: all Federal, State and Local laws still exist at Burning Man. Any illegal action can lead to a citation (more common) or your arrest (rare). Law enforcement officers have a difficult yet important job, both on and off the playa. Please respect the valuable work that they do. It is the duty of all law enforcement personnel to enforce the law, and they are there to help protect our citizenry.

Finally, a huge thanks to the unsung heroes of Burning Man — our Government Relations and Legal team, who did the hard work to compile all this valuable information for YOU. Hats off!

The Man burns in 26 days!





Officers from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Pershing County Sheriff’s office (PSCO) patrol Black Rock City and the surrounding Black Rock Desert to enforce federal, state and local laws. This year BLM and Pershing County will be working under a single integrated command, meaning they will share a dispatch system and ride together in vehicles with logos and officers from both agencies.

Also new for 2013 will be Law Enforcement Camp next to the Black Rock Ranger Station on the Esplanade near 6:00. This is for all of your law enforcement needs — you can report a crime, fill out paperwork for a stolen camera, or just say “Hi” and “Thank You” to the officers who work around the clock to keep Black Rock City safe.



We’ll say it again: it is important to remember that all Federal, State and Local laws still exist in and around Black Rock City.

Parents and guardians are responsible for ensuring the safety and welfare of their children. Please be forewarned that in the past parents have been arrested at Burning Man for failing to keep their children under their supervision. We know that you want your children to be safe. We also know that you don’t want to be arrested. Furthermore, we know that you don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize families being allowed to attend Burning Man. So please help spread the word that child safety is of the utmost importance.

THE POSSESSION, USE AND TRAFFICKING OF ILLEGAL SUBSTANCES AND PARAPHERNALIA IS PROHIBITED. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DOES NOT RECOGNIZE MEDICAL MARIJUANA CARDS AND THE STATE OF NEVADA DOES NOT RECOGNIZE MEDICAL MARIJUANA CARDS FROM OTHER STATES. Nevada has some of the strictest drug trafficking laws in the country. Even gifting a small amount of illegal substance can be considered trafficking. You have been warned! You could be issued a citation, arrested or both.

IT IS ILLEGAL FOR ANYONE UNDER THE AGE OF 21 TO CONSUME ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES. If you are gifting drinks, please be sure to check the age of anyone who does not look 21. Ask for ID. If you are planning to drink - as in any city, town, or event - please carry your ID in a safe and secure location. If you are under 21, please feel free to explore and engage in all the magic and wonder that Black Rock City has to offer, as long as you do it according to the law, alcohol-free and under the supervision of your parent or guardian. Parents & Guardians, it is YOUR responsibility to supervise your children.

NO OPEN CONTAINERS IN VEHICLES. The only exception is for Mutant Vehicles being operated with a valid BRC DMV sticker in Black Rock City. This does NOT include Gate Road. And the container must NOT be in the driver’s compartment or within arm’s reach of the driver.

DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE IS ILLEGAL. It is also unsafe. Don’t do it!

TRAFFIC LAWS ARE ENFORCED ON GATE ROAD. The purpose of Gate Road is to get you in and out of the city SAFELY! We know you have traveled long and far and you finally want to be HOME. But until you are past the Greeters Station you’re not quite there yet. When you’re on Gate Road it is not the time to make cocktails and get on the roof of your vehicle. Gate Road is dusty with low visibility and a lot of traffic. Law Enforcement will be enforcing traffic laws to ensure that all 60+ thousand of us get in and out without accidents. Drive safely and mind the rules of the road. Make sure your vehicle has working taillights, brake lights and valid license plates that are visible. Use headlights at night, and drive safely! Wait until you receive your official sticker from DMV before allowing your vehicle to fully mutate into the bar car, public taxi or art that it is meant to be. Headlights and taillights on art cars will also be monitored while on playa.

CARRY A DRIVER’S LICENSE WHEN OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE. This goes for Gate Road as well as in Black Rock City. What constitutes a motor vehicle? Pretty much any vehicle with a motor (including golf carts) with the exception of stand up motorized scooters (yes, that means art cars too!).

DRIVING IS PROHIBITED. Remember that once you arrive at your campsite, driving is prohibited except for DMV-licensed Mutant Vehicles.

DRIVE SAFELY. This includes no speeding.

NO LEWD OR LASCIVIOUS BEHAVIOR IN PUBLIC. Yes, we know that “public space” is hard to define in Black Rock City. Use common sense. Do you really want to have to tell your friends and family that you got arrested for having sex in public? Our research indicates that simply being nude is not against the law. However, lewd and lascivious behavior in public is illegal. Again, act responsibly. Also, be aware of your surroundings. Be extremely mindful of families with children who are part of our community.

DISORDERLY CONDUCT IS PROHIBITED. No fighting, violence or threats. Also, do not obstruct, resist or attempt to elude a law enforcement officer. And do not fail to follow their orders or directions.

FIREWORKS ARE PROHIBITED. Our Pyro Team will make sure you get to see fireworks when the Man burns. So leave it to the professionals. For everyone else — leave your fireworks at home.

NO WEAPONS! Weapons are illegal in Black Rock City. Don’t bring them. Period.

For more information see:
BLM’s 2013 Burning Man Temporary Closure Order, which has all of BLM’s temporary restrictions for the Burning Man event:

For the Closure Order Map, click here:

Burning Man 2013 Survival Guide:



The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office can also be found close at hand, primarily patrolling the nearby town of Gerlach. They wear green uniforms, and are concerned mainly with keeping the traffic moving and ensuring that Burning Man participants respect local citizens’ privacy and property. Please be sure that all head and tail lights on your vehicle are working properly, your registration is up-to-date, and your license plate is clearly visible, to avoid an unscheduled stop on your way to the playa.



In order to fight the threat of food-borne illness on the playa, the Nevada State Health Division (NSHD) has requirements for camps preparing food including the need of a health permit and an inspection. You must apply for and be permitted as a Temporary Food Establishment by the NSHD if:

* You wish to share, cook or serve food or non-alcoholic beverages to the general Burning Man population (gifting food).

* You will be cooking or serving food to large groups of more than 125* FELLOW CAMPERS of your theme camp on a consistent basis.

(If you have a communal kitchen shared by 125 or more campers, but meals are prepared individually, or in smaller quantities than for 125 persons, a permit is not required, however we highly recommend you research and review safe food handling practices, starting with the Nevada Division of Health information).

For further information and permitting process:



The Black Rock Rangers are Burning Man participants who volunteer time and effort as non-confrontational community mediators. Responding to the continuously evolving nature of the event, Rangers are usually the first to address situations within the community that would otherwise require outside intervention, aiding in the prevention of escalation. By encouraging and facilitating communication, the Rangers promote awareness of potential hazards, from sunstroke to tent fires.

Black Rock Rangers are not law enforcement personnel. They are members of the Burning Man community, just like you. You can identify them by their khaki-colored attire, featuring the familiar Burning Man logo in brown on their backs and chests. You should feel free to request their assistance at any time for any emergencies or questions. They can dispatch law enforcement or emergency medical professionals if necessary.



Law enforcement is as necessary in Black Rock City as it is everywhere else. The event could not happen without the valuable work that the various law enforcement agencies perform. Please respect law enforcement as integral members of our community. If you are stopped by law enforcement for questioning please comport yourself responsibly. Failure to follow instructions could lead to your arrest.

Black Rock City, LLC would like to thank all law enforcement agencies in and around Black Rock City for their many years of ongoing cooperative effort. The law enforcement presence at Burning Man is for public safety. They provide numerous instances of invaluable services for the good of the community, as public servants. We all have jobs to do, whether patrolling the streets of Black Rock or sliding down a giant wedge of astro-turf. So, why don’t we try to get along? Let’s respect one another on the playa and practice a little of that radical inclusion we keep talking about.



Quick facts for foreign visitors about driving in the United States:

1. An International Driving Permit (IDP) translates information contained on your driver’s license into 10 languages so that officials in foreign countries are able to interpret your license. An IDP supplements a valid government-issued license-it does not serve as a replacement for a license. If you are stopped by law enforcement, you will most likely be asked to produce both your IDP and your official driver’s license. The United States does NOT issue International Driving Permits to foreign visitors, so you will need to obtain this document before traveling to the U.S.
2. If you are going to reside in the U.S., you can get a U.S. driver’s license once you are in the U.S., but it may take several months to obtain a U.S. driver’s license.
3. Foreign visitors who become U.S. residents can only obtain a driver’s license from the state in which they reside (not from the federal government). Each state has its own driving rules and regulations. Check with your state’s motor vehicles department to find out how to apply.
4. Once you receive your U.S. driver’s license from a state motor vehicles department, you will be permitted to drive in all other U.S. states. The laws in each state vary from one to another. It is your responsibility to know and obey the laws of that state while driving.
5. The residency requirement for obtaining a U.S. driver’s license varies with each state. Consult the motor vehicles department in your state for more information.
6. If you are a foreign student coming to the U.S. to study, contact the university or college you will attend, as most institutions provide students with additional driving information.
7. The U.S. government has issued warnings about Internet vendors of worthless international driver’s licenses/permits. It is important to educate yourself about the dangers of these costly and illegal operations. See International Driver’s License Warning from Federal Trade Commission.




Do you want to learn more about your civil rights — both in Black Rock City and the default world? Stop by the Liberty Lounge from 2 PM to 6 PM daily where the ACLU of Nevada will be available to answer your questions.

Know Your Rights: The ACLU publishes a guide on What To Do If You’re Stopped by Police on the ACLU website at:

Know Your Rights Videos: Flex Your Rights offers DVDs on how to behave if stopped by law enforcement on their website at: … and free on YouTube here:

Please note, however, that the ACLU guide and the Flex Your Rights video are geared more for a law enforcement stop that could lead to an arrest; whereas most stops in Black Rock City are more about warnings and citations. Use common sense when deciding how to comport yourself.


If you were arrested or cited at Burning Man and are interested in better understanding your legal options, then Lawyers For Burners is a resource available to you. LFB is run by volunteers in the Burning Man community to help you better understand how to navigate your options.


Photo credit: Bobby Pin

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