Is Urinating by the Side of the Road Indecent Exposure?

Is Urinating by the Side of the Road Indecent Exposure?

Having “to go” while driving is a problem so common that it almost seems mundane – chances are, you’ve had this problem at some point, too. When people need to urinate during a long drive, the preferable option is to find a gas station or rest stop where there are proper facilities one can use to relieve themselves.

So, what if someone can’t wait? What if there’s nowhere to go for many more miles? As we’ve seen depicted in the media or have even done ourselves at some point, the only option may be to relieve ourselves somewhere off the side of the road. If you’ve ever wondered if this was legal to do, the answer isn’t so simple.

While relieving oneself near the roadside isn’t the same as doing so in an alley, against a building, or in a playground, it’s not impossible for someone to end up with an arrest for indecent exposure, depending upon the circumstances.

Indecent Exposure in Texas

There is no crime at the state level in Texas for public urination, although individual cities may have such laws. Generally speaking, however, this behavior is often classified as indecent exposure, which can be alleged any time someone has exposed their genitals or anus for the purposes of sexual arousal or gratification from another person. This is true even if someone relieves themselves in a public place but out of eyeshot of anyone else.

While sexual gratification doesn’t sound like the purpose for why one would urinate in public, it’s nonetheless the way the incident may be charged and prosecuted. If convicted of indecent exposure, one may be sentenced to six months in jail for a first offense and up to a year for a second or subsequent offense. They can also be compelled to register as a sex offender depending upon the circumstances of the inciting incident.

How ‘Going’ by the Roadside Can Mean Trouble

While Texas law doesn’t directly address urination or defecation by the highway, there are a few ways one can end up in trouble with the law. Let’s first address the most serious possible charge – indecent exposure.

If one fails to adequately cover themselves or purposely displays their anus or genitals in a manner that can be easily observed by passing motorists, it’s very likely that such behavior can result in an indecent exposure charge.

Most people, though, seek bushes, trees, or another form of cover to do their business. Under these circumstances, the most serious consequence, if any, would likely be a charge for disorderly conduct (a Class C Misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine) or a traffic ticket for stopping where it is unlawful to do so or obstructing traffic.


While urinating or otherwise relieving one’s self in public is a serious offense, the law isn’t so clear on how this would be handled if someone were caught doing so along the highway. There are a number of variables that would factor into such a scenario, such as if someone was unnecessarily exposing themselves to others, if minors were present, and whether or not it was lawful to stop at all.

If you were charged with indecent exposure under any circumstance, however, we at Shane Phelps Law. can help you defend against your charges. Our founding attorney is a former prosecutor and understands how the state will approach your case. Don’t risk serious criminal penalties without having a customized legal defense!

For more information about our services or to request a FREE initial consultation, contact Shane Phelps Law. online or call us at (979) 773-7028.

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