This could be the most important reading you do before arriving in Black Rock City.
This Survival Guide provides information about laws applicable to activities within the Black Rock Desert in the State of Nevada and at Burning Man. But legal information is not legal advice, and although we strive to ensure the accuracy and usefulness of the information here, you should consult with a lawyer if you want legal advice about a particular situation.
Public Agencies that Patrol The Event
The Pershing County Sheriff and BLM are on site to enforce all applicable federal, state and local laws. The roads leading into and out of the event are patrolled by the Nevada Highway Patrol, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, Pershing County Sheriff’s Office, and Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. It is not the mission of these agencies to police your lifestyle or inhibit self-expression. They fulfill the same function as the police in any other city, and it is their duty to uphold the law — please cooperate.
If you become a victim of a crime during the event, report it IMMEDIATELY. Pershing County Sheriff’s Office will respond and investigate. It is imperative you report the crime while on site — it’s extremely difficult to investigate a crime post-event when camps, cars, evidence and witnesses are gone. Insurance agencies require a law enforcement report to file claims of theft.
What Is Illegal?
This isn’t a comprehensive list of rules and regulations or laws that apply in Black Rock City, but here are some of the frequently asked questions and most common violations. Violations could result in arrest, citation, and/or eviction from the premises. For the most current information applicable to any given situation involving an arrest or citation at Burning Man, you should consult with a lawyer.
- The use and possession of illicit drugs and drug paraphernalia are violations of the law. Depending on the violation, you may receive a citation or be arrested and/or evicted from the event. The possession of large quantities or a variety of drugs may be interpreted as evidence of intent to distribute, which is a serious felony offense. Giving illegal substances to someone else could be considered drug trafficking.
- Prescription drugs must be transported and kept in the bottle you received from the pharmacist at all times.
- Driving with an open container or under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is illegal. Nevada’s blood alcohol limit (BAC) is 0.08 for drivers 21 years of age and older, and 0.02 for drivers under 21.
- Serving alcohol to minors is illegal. If your Theme Camp has a bar where alcoholic drinks are gifted, the person serving alcohol must check that any person being served is at least 21. It is a state and local offense for anyone under 21 to consume alcoholic beverages or to try to pass themselves off as being of age. It is a violation of Pershing County law for minors to even possess alcoholic beverages.
- Any act of assault or theft is a violation of the law and may be cited as a felony federal offense.
- Possession or discharge of firearms or weapons is prohibited.
- Dumping, leaking or spilling gray water, black water, oil or fuel is illegal.
- Use of drones or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) is prohibited unless the operator is registered through and complies with the Remote Control BRC program (RCBRC) and operates the UAS in accordance with federal laws and regulations.
- Human waste (urination and defecation) on the playa is a violation of federal regulations. You may be issued a ticket that will cost you hundreds of dollars.
The federal government does not recognize state laws decriminalizing marijuana for medical or recreational purposes.
The possession or use of marijuana is a federal infraction in the Black Rock High Rock National Conservation Area where Burning Man takes place, and having a medical marijuana card is NOT a defense.
As of 2017, adults aged 21 and over are permitted under Nevada law to possess and transport up to one ounce of marijuana (1/8 ounce of concentrated marijuana) and marijuana paraphernalia within the state. But the use of marijuana in public places is still prohibited, as is possession or transportation of more than an ounce (which could be evidence of trafficking under state law). Other restrictions also apply.
See Nevada Revised Statues Chapters 453A and 453D for the full text of Nevada’s laws regulating medical and recreational marijuana. Remember that marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and BLM may cite anyone for possession of any amount.
Why Am I Getting Pulled Over?
- Exceeding posted speed limits on the playa may result in a traffic stop and could escalate to a vehicle search (depending on the circumstances), and a moving violation of $250 or more.
- BLM regulations require all motorized vehicles driven at night, except for Mutant Vehicles, to have two working headlights, two working taillights, and two working brake lights. Motor vehicles must display an unobstructed rear license plate.
- All vehicles must have a current registration sticker and be insured. All drivers must have their driver’s license on them when operating any vehicle.
- You may only enter and exit the event site through the Gate. You may not enter or drive around the closed zone surrounding the event site except to approach the main Gate.
- Do not attempt to break through our city boundaries or avoid traffic at the conclusion of the event by driving around looking for an alternative route.
- Hiking in the closure order is highly discouraged. Those on foot in this area should be prepared to show a ticket stub or risk citation by law enforcement.
- Visiting area hot springs during the event is not allowed.
- A copy of the closure order is made available at the BLM Mobile Command station at 5:30 and Esplanade.