Please show respect for the law while driving the beaches of the OBX, NC

Posted April 12, 2018, updated October 9, 2018
April 12, 2018 - Consistent warmer weather is almost here along the coast of NC; which means that fiberglass dune buggy owners/enthusiasts that take their rides to the Outer Banks will be chomping at the bit to air down and get their tires in the sand.  It is extremely important that, in order to promote a good image for our shared hobby (along with abiding by the various local/area laws and restrictions), FDB owners become fully aware with what is and what is not legal/allowed.

Laws and restrictions can greatly differ along the vast stretch of beaches along the Outer Banks, so it would be irresponsible to assume that there is a “one size fits all” situation.  Please make sure that you are following the laws that apply to your local city/county.  Shown here are some totally obvious examples of confirmed illegal activity; this kind of abuse and complete disregard for the law should not be tolerated.  What is even more unfortunate is that some of those that appear in these photos actually live in the area; do they think that their “local” status actually gives them some sort of special privilege or exception? These area residents are extremely poor examples of the positive and law-abiding image that most responsible and self-respecting fiberglass dune buggy owners strive for.  Unfortunately, others that ended up in these photos may have just been unknowing/unwitting participants.
It is illegal to drive on the beaches just south of Corolla between April 31st and September 30th.  These photos show a makeshift beach party, just under the USACOE Field Research Facility Pier during the 2017 Labor Day weekend.  The owner of this dune buggy has claimed in the past that he is exempt because he “knows somebody”; but according to the Duck Police Department, this is a clear violation of the law.

Response from the Duck Police Department:  “You are correct that driving on the beach in Duck is not permitted until October 1st.  Whether this person was given permission by a Research Pier employee or not they cannot violate the town ordinance.  The beach itself is not privately owned but public in that no one person can grant someone special permission to violate the ordinances on any section of the beach.“
Three weeks ago (on March 22, 2018), these “locals” were directly and officially warned about several of these offences. And yet, as of today (April 12, 2018), I am not aware of any mention whatsoever on their Dune Buggies of the Outer Banks/DBOBX Facebook page about this contact from local law enforcement.  Because they have failed to do so, followers on their DBOBX Facebook page will continue to assume that this type of (illegal) behavior is accepted (in fact, encouraged).

The admins of the DBOBX Facebook page have failed to take advantage of an opportunity to inform others about the existence of these laws/restrictions, in order to help prevent these abuses from happening again in the future.  It’s a no-brainer that these OBX “locals” should at least attempt to set a decent example, from this point forward, and not continue to put others in a situation that may require local law enforcement to intervene.

Update - September 22, 2018:  It has now been 6 months since the administrators of the Facebook/Dune Buggies of the Outer Banks (DBOBX) were warned by local law enforcement that multiple photos posted on their Facebook page actually show examples of law-breaking actions.  Unfortunately, and as of today, these DBOBX admins/OBX locals have yet to publicly admit to this admonishment from local LEOs.  They have also neglected to publicly caution others from repeating their various and negligent infractions.  It's truly sad that these same admins are considered official representatives/event coordinators of an internationally - recognized fiberglass dune buggy organization (Manx Club); what a shame (link added Sep.21, 2018).
Response from the Currituck County Sheriff’s Department:  “The following activities shall be considered unlawful within the dune system: Walking or traversing on the dunes outside of an improved or unimproved dune walkover access as defined in section 10-126. Operating any vehicle, moped, motorcycle, or motor vehicle or using any horse on or across any frontal or primary dune, or in such a manner as would destroy natural vegetation.”
I will be the first to admit; during the 2012 Manx on the Banx (official Manx Club annual event), I unknowingly was also guilty of this very same infraction.  Like a lemming, I followed others as they climbed up and perched themselves atop the first row of dunes along the beach at the NC/Va border, either to get group photos or just to enjoy the view.  Even though one of these “locals” was not only responsible for leading that particular beach run, but also gave the “don’t embarrass me; I live here” orientation beforehand; not a word, caution, or warning was spoken about this local law.  Looking back, I can’t imagine that anyone in our group would have knowingly broken the law, if we had been properly briefed beforehand.

Additional photo examples of flagrant and illegal abuses can be found on the Dune Buggies of the Outer Banks Group on Facebook (photos looking down on dune buggies, that were obviously taken from the peaks of the dunes, etc). The illegality of climbing on the OBX dunes has been an occasional topic of discussion among the dune buggy related Facebook groups for quite some time, and is a well-known restriction respected by residents on the OBX.  Unfortunately, the admins of this group not only break the law, but they also advertise it; which is truly mind-boggling indeed.  I would not consider either of them to be dependable and/or responsible advocates as it relates to enviornmental and conservation issues along North Carolina's Outer Banks.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service/Currituck website:  “The ‘Corolla Wild Horses’ can be seen on the Outerbanks north of Corolla to the Virginia State line, which has been designated by a Currituck County ordinance as a Wild Horse Sanctuary. For the safety of the public and the horses, the ordinance also makes it unlawful for anyone to harm, APPROACH, feed or kill any wild horse in the sanctuary.”
Please, let’s all band together and do the right thing.  Most of us would be considered guests as we enjoy the OBX beaches; let’s abide by the law and treat our hosts with the respect they deserve.  Irresponsibility and a total disregard for the law can easily lead to further/additional restrictions (or complete banishment).
                                                                                                                                                                 Gary Holbrook
Comments Welcome
Currituck County Beach Driving Permit Information - Friday before Memorial Day through Labor Day

U.S Fish & Wildlife Service FAQs - Corolla Wild Horses

The information below can be used as initial, up to the minute points-of-contact for further information.  It is important to remember that applicable laws/regulations can be dictated at a City, County, State Park, or National Park level; depending on the location and possibly by the time of year.  These contacts may give direction to another law enforcement agency, depending upon jurisdiction.  This classic phrase applies; "ignorance is no excuse".

Currituck County Sheriff's Department, 252-232-2216 (Carova Beach, Corolla)

Dare County Sheriff's Department, 252-475-5980 (Duck, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, Hatteras)

Hyde County Sheriff's Department, 252-926-3171 (Ocracoke)