24 Tips From Burners on Gate Safety

cops dogs

Burners have kicked off a timely discussion at the BurnTheMan Facebook group.

Here’s the ACLU Guide to your legal rights if pulled over by a police officer who wants to search your vehicle or your person.

CptSmashy said:
cops snifferHere are some of the things I had people tell me in the staging area and in the lanes on opening night for Gate. Stops were made in and around Gerlach and on Gate Rd between the turn off the pavement and Gate. There was also a very heavy police presence between Gate and Greeters and between Greeters and the traffic split.
1. Obscured license plate because of a bike rack or other item.
2. Running light out on a truck or trailer.
3. Operating light (tail/brake/head light) burned out.

4. No seatbelt.

5. Open container.

6. A passenger hanging out of the window while vehicle in motion.

7. Improper/dangerous load (items extending to far out the rear or the sides of the vehicle)

8. Failure to signal a lane change (on fucking gate road no less).

9. Following too close.

10. Speeding/reckless operation.

11. Littering (discarded cigarette butt or something falling off vehicle)

My spiel last year to each driver after checking tickets and searches were complete was basically this:

“The police presence is excessive and aggressive this year. Do not speed. Keep your seatbelts on. Keep your head, arms, hands, feet and bodies inside the vehicle at all times. Do not open and drink from anything that looks like an alcoholic beverage until you reach camp and park your vehicle. Keep the music turned down. Do not do anything else that could attract any attention from law enforcement. Stay safe and have a great burn.”

I helped at least 15/20 people ziptie license plates to the end of a back rack and rig a headlamp or other illuminating device on them.

And yes, there were vehicles we checked that were REEKING of pot smoke. I wished them good luck and to be EXTRA careful about not doing anything that might attract attention.

Here are some additional bonus tips from Burners, who will remain anonymous:

12. Last year I saw a lot of vehicles being pulled over (right inside the gate). Many of those where singled out because of tags. Some tags were out of date but a lot were obstructed by bike racks.

13. Your license plate and tags must be completely visible and fully lit

14. Don’t cover your back lights even with a bike wheel.
15. remember:”I do not consent to a search” and “am I free to go now?”. Rinse. Repeat.
16. Zip strip your license plate directly to the back bike and clip on a portable LED light somewhere to shine down at it at night. Don’t forget to turn it on if you are entering the city in the dark!
17. speeding was another reason I watched a lot of people get pulled over too just do the speed limit inside the gates.
18. My friends were pulled over right past the gate AND had a drug dog led through their van, even after they specifically did NOT consent to a search all because their license plate light was out.
19. Saw a guy driving a truck with bicycle bars leaning outside of the bed. Got pulled over inside the gate.
20. My tags and plate were visible & up to date, I was pulled over for “no lights on my license plate”. The dog hit, the search was on, but there was nothing to find!
21. There is the actual law of the land on plates. It must be scured to the vehicle. So duct tape may not be your best bet on this one, also if you are from a state that does not require a front plate, do yourself a favor. Put one on the front!! I have been pulled over 5 times in a vehicle without a front plate. It was legal in my state but still got me stopped in others. Creative Avoidance should be added to the list of principles.
22. We were pulled over just inside the gate last year during early entry on the premise that our bikes were blocking visibility of our license plate. We politely asked if the bike rack was illegal and what we could do to make it more visible. Should we try to secure the plate to the bike itself so it’s more visible? We were told “No, that’s not secure and could be dangerous, we might ticket you for that. This is no big deal anyway and your rack is legal, we won’t ticket you….You don’t have anything in there you shouldn’t, do you?”When we calmly attempted to assert our rights by stating “I do not consent to a search,” we were condescendingly told “That’s okay, you don’t have to” as they approached the car with their dog (I saw no “signaling” from the dog, but I’m no expert), opened our (foolishly unlocked) car doors and ransacked our entire vehicle. They unpacked everything, emptying ziplock bags full of gear and carelessly throwing whatever they found. It was a huge mess. There were no illicit substances for them to discover (we don’t even drink alcohol), but it was a huge pain in the ass after 18 hours on the road and a flat tire…all we wanted was for TreadHunter.com to save us, to get to camp, hug our friends, and go to sleep.

Please be aware, your rights will NOT be respected. If you are targeted, you WILL be searched. Regardless of where your license plate is hanging. Straight from the horses mouth. There is no way around this. Be ready. Be safe.

23. make sure those vanity plate covers don’t hide anything
24. I’m a police officer and a fellow burner. I want to explain a few things about your 4th amendment rights and Supreme Court precedent.

A police service dog (which you can recognize easily because they wear working dog vests) can be run on the exterior of the vehicle without consent, as long as the traffic stop typically doesn’t exceed 20min (some exceptions apply). If the dog “indicates” as interpreted by the handler, the police are allowed to search your vehicle even without your consent. However this search of your vehicle DOES NOT extent to body. Your person can only be patted down for weapons. Any search after that must be from consent or probable cause (like the smell of weed).

Also, if the vehicle is stopped for a traffic violation, and the passengers did not commit ANY crime (seatbelt/passenger hanging out of veh/open container),etc) THE PASSENGER IS NOT REQUIRED TO give personal information to the officer.

The officer CAN require all the occupants to exit the vehicle for ANY reason during the stop. If you are asked to exit, don’t argue just do it. However, make sure you shut the door behind you. This prevents the dog from entering the vehicle. If the officer opens the door to allow the dog to search the inside they have to explain why in court.

So my fellow burner tips are: don’t bring illegal drugs and if you do definitely don’t put them in passenger compartment of the vehicle or any personal gear that could link YOU to the illegal drugs. (Trailers, common storage bins, etc. are better options). this makes it harder for the officer to link the illegal drugs found to a specific occupant and raises your legal defense in court about true possession.

The cops can say “the dog hit” when maybe the dog just saw a colorful shiny thing it wanted to sniff.  The dog’s not telling. The local judge, sheriff, and DA are not very Burner friendly. Last year sniffer dogs were brought to Burning Man from the US Border to help out the integrated Fed/Ranger teams.


Jim Carrey, the Queen of Diamonds and the Maharishi

THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONEFunnyman and Hollywood A-lister Jim Carrey has named Burning Man in a recent Commencement Address to MUM: The Maharishi University of Management (who honored him with a doctorate)

The context is after he shows a painting which took him thousands of hours to complete, weeks and weeks like a madman alone on a scaffolding. There’s a blacklight surprise at 18:12, leading up to the BM reference at 18:32.

Full transcript here.