Law Enforcement at Burning Man & the Surrounding Areas

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 and local laws. First and foremost are BLM and Pershing County Sheriff’s Office. 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 Tribe.

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 and/or eviction.
  • 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.
  • If you use prescription drugs, they must be in the bottle you receive from the pharmacist at all times.
  • The federal government does not recognize medical marijuana cards. Possession of marijuana is a federal infraction in the Black Rock Desert, and having a medical marijuana card is NOT a defense.
  • Since 2013, Nevada law has allowed for the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries within the state and for the recognition of medical marijuana cards from other states under certain circumstances. Resident and nonresident cardholders must abide by Nevada’s limits on possession and restrictions against public consumption. See Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 453A for details. Transporting marijuana across state lines is a federal crime.
  • As of the publishing of this Survival Guide, neither BLM nor Pershing County Sheriff’s Office has informed BRC about how this change will affect the possession and use of medical marijuana at the event. 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 with an open container or under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is a violation of the law. 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 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 possession or discharge of unauthorized reworks is a violation of local, state and federal laws.

Laws Specific to Black Rock City

  • Possession or discharge of rearms or weapons (including hand-held lasers) at the event is prohibited.
  • Dumping wastewater is illegal, as are oil, fuel, and waste fuel-leaks and spills. These violations may result in citation and/or eviction.
  • Light your Mutant Vehicle: BLM regulations require 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.
  • 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.
  • You may only enter and exit the event site through the Gate. Prior to the event, 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. Visiting any area hot springs during the event is a violation of the closure order.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.