Just like in the real world, it’s up to Burning Man participants to know the laws and follow them. Traffic enforcement is extremely strict in Black Rock City — if you’re stopped in your vehicle, the officers may have a drug dog sniff the outside of your vehicle looking for contraband, and they could end up searching your car. Law enforcement officers particularly watch for the following in and around Black Rock City:
- Always carry a driver’s license when operating a motor vehicle. What constitutes a motor vehicle? Pretty much any vehicle with a motor (including golf carts and mutant vehicles) with the exception of stand-up motorized scooters. If you’re from outside the United States, you should carry your International Driving Permit with you, too.
- Speeding — Drive the speed limit at all times. During the event, the speed limit is 10 mph on Gate Road and 5 mph within Black Rock City (after the Greeters station). 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.
- Safe driving — Drive carefully and safely, wear your seatbelt and use your turn signals. Yield to bicycles and pedestrians. Don’t drive erratically, ride on the roof or hang off the side of your vehicle, or drink and drive.
- Obscured license plates* — Make sure your rear license plate isn’t blocked by your bike, bike rack, dirt or anything else. (You might consider attaching your license plate to your bike so it’s clearly visible, but if you do, make sure it’s illuminated with a clip-on LED.)
- Registration tags — Have up-to-date, valid registration tags on your vehicle and trailer.
- Non-functioning lights — Make sure your license plate lights, taillights, running lights, turn signals and headlights are all working. If you’re driving a rental vehicle, familiarize yourself with all of the lighting systems, particularly if you’re towing a trailer.
- Open container — Don’t have an open alcohol container in your vehicle. The only exception is for mutant vehicles being operated with a valid BRC DMV sticker in Black Rock City, and the container must not be in the driver’s compartment or within arm’s reach of the driver. No open containers on Gate Road anywhere in the vehicle.
- Load & littering — Make sure your load is safely and reasonably attached, and don’t toss anything out the window.
- Non-permitted driving — Once you enter BRC and park your vehicle at your campsite, you cannot drive it on the playa without a BRC Department of Mutant Vehicles-issued permit sticker. 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.*Automatic license plate readers are widely used all over the country, as well as on the way to Black Rock City. As you drive into BRC, please know that all deputies have this technology in their vehicles.
Mutant vehicles have rules too. Mutant vehicles are not allowed to drive until they are inspected and licensed. Prior to inspection and licensing, they are only permitted to drive to the DMV for their inspections. You will need to have the DMV invite letter with you when you drive to the DMV for inspection. All other driving of your mutant vehicle either prior to being licensed or after the event officially ends is not permitted.
All mutant vehicles must adhere to the mutant vehicle driving rules. This includes meeting the criteria for lighting if driving at night. While headlights and taillights are not specifically required on mutant vehicles, any vehicles (including mutants) driving into and out of the event must have functioning head, tail and brake lights.