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. But legal information is not legal advice, which is an interpretation of the applicable law to specific circumstances. Although we strive to ensure the accuracy and usefulness of the information here, you should consult a lawyer if you want legal advice about a particular situation.
Public Agencies that Patrol The Event
Several public agencies are on site to issue required permits and to enforce federal, state & local laws. These include: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Pershing County Sheriff’s Office, Nevada State Health Division and the Washoe County Health Department. The roads leading to and from the event are patrolled by: Nevada Highway Patrol, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, Pershing County Sheriff’s Office, Nevada Department of Transportation and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribal Police. The Nevada State Health Division protects the health of our citizens and prevents food-borne epidemics. Please cooperate with their lawful inspections of all public food preparation at our event. 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. It is their duty to respond to infractions of the law.
Public & Private: Your Right to Privacy
In Black Rock City, many distinctions between what is private and what is public tend to soften and disappear. However, all local, state and federal laws apply in BRC. If you violate these laws you may be subject to arrest or citation, or eviction.
What Is Illegal?
The following are just some of the laws you should be aware of:
- The use and possession of illegal drugs are violations of the law. Depending on the violation you may receive a citation, arrest or eviction.
- Medical marijuana cards are not recognized by the federal government. Possession of marijuana is a federal infraction in the Black Rock Desert, and having a medical marijuana card is NOT a defense. In 2013 the State of Nevada enacted legislation that allows for the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries in Nevada and for the recognition of medical marijuana cards from other states, provided that the nonresident cardholder signs an affidavit. As of the printing of this Survival Guide, however, no dispensaries have been opened in Nevada, and the form of affidavit has not been prescribed. For the most current information applicable to your situation, you should consult with a lawyer. Check the Jackrabbit Speaks newsletter for any new information on this topic that becomes available after the Survival Guide has gone to press.
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a violation of the law. Nevada’s blood alcohol limit (BAC) is .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 over 21. It is a State and local offense for anyone under 21 to consume alcoholic beverages or 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.
- The discharge of unauthorized fireworks is a violation of local, state and federal laws. Some Native American reservations in Nevada allow the sale and use of fireworks that are NOT legal in the surrounding jurisdictions. The possession or use of fireworks is illegal outside of reservations, even if they were purchased legally.
- The possession of any illegal drug with intent to distribute is a more serious felony offense. The possession of large quantities or a variety of drugs may be interpreted as evidence of intent to distribute. Giving illegal substances to someone else could be considered drug trafficking.
- The possession or discharge of firearms or weapons (including hand-held lasers) at the event is prohibited.
Laws Specific to Black Rock City
- Light your Mutant Vehicle: BLM regulations require that all motorized vehicles driven at night, including art cars, motor scooters and go-peds, have front and rear lights. All drivers must have their driver’s license on them when operating any vehicle.
- 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.
- You may only enter and exit the event site through the Gate. Prior to the event, the BLM issues a federal closure order, creating a closed zone around BRC to ensure the safety of participants and users of the Black Rock Desert. You may not enter the closed zone except at the main Gate and you may not drive outside of BRC in the area adjacent to its boundaries.
- Do not attempt to break through our city boundaries or avoid traffic at the conclusion of the event. Proper use of the main gate will be strictly enforced by law enforcement during exodus on Sunday and Monday.
- Violating posted speed limits or boundary signs on the playa may result in a moving violation that imposes a fine of $250 fine or more.
- Hiking in or through the closure zone is highly discouraged. Those on foot in this area should be prepared to show a ticket stub or risk citation by law enforcement. Also, avoid this area during dust storms and always have adequate lighting at night.
- Using area hot springs during the event is a violation of the closure order.
- A copy of the closure order is available at the BLM Mobile Command station at 5:30 and Esplanade
How to Behave with Law Enforcement
Law enforcement officers have a difficult yet important job, both on and off the playa. Please respect the valuable work that they do — we could not have the event without their services. It is the duty of all law enforcement personnel to enforce the law in a courteous and respectful manner.