Skip to main content

People use cars for many different things. Along with simply driving to a destination, this includes hauling cargo, listening to music, a status symbol, going on relaxing drives, and having conversations with loved ones. And some people take things in a debaucherous direction by having sex in a vehicle. But is this against the law? Is it really illegal to have sex in a car?

Is having sex in a car against the law?

Woman kissing man in vehicle, highlighting if it's illegal to have sex in a car
Couple in car | Dennis Hallinan via Getty Images

At first glance, sex in a vehicle might seem like a taboo subject. You may assume that only a small minority do it — limited to those looking for some adventurous debauchery. However, it’s very prevalent. Per NBC News, a study found that 60% of American adults had sex in a car. More adults have done the deed behind the wheel than have not. 

Are all of these people breaking the law? Could this behavior get a couple arrested? In most cases, it’s not illegal. There isn’t a jurisdiction in the United States that specifically says that it’s illegal to have sex in a car. 

The law forbids it in a public area, though

Woman lying down on man in vehicle, highlighting if it’s against the law to have sex in a car
Couple in car | Toa Heftiba via Unsplash

While sex in a car is not against the law “in and of itself,” it’s illegal to do it in a public area within public view, per Shouse California Law Group. In these situations, the police can arrest a couple and charge them with a crime.

While the laws vary by jurisdiction, possible charges include public indecency, lewd conduct in public, disorderly conduct, and indecent exposure. Most of these offenses result in a misdemeanor, with a conviction leading to a maximum jail sentence of six months to one year. Also, for some cases, particularly more severe ones, a convicted person may have to register as a sex offender. 

Man and woman kissing in side-view mirror, highlighting if it’s illegal to have sex in a car
Side-view mirror kiss | Freddie Addery via Unsplash

The determination of whether or not an incident occurred in a public area is dependent on the specific facts of the case, as well as the laws in the jurisdiction in which it took place. Defense attorneys have multiple legal strategies to contest criminal charges for sex in a car. This includes arguing that a vehicle wasn’t really in a public place, the defendant was not actually having sex, or they were falsely accused. 

What about ‘doing it’ in a moving car?

Another legal issue is having sex in a moving car. Along with the public element, there are motor vehicle regulations to consider. “Doing it” in a moving car is obviously very dangerous, for it can result in a car crash. This behavior not only puts the couple’s lives at risk — but also other drivers and pedestrians. Offenders could be charged with reckless driving and distracted driving. 

Also, without going into lurid detail, sex in a moving car likely requires people to remove their seatbelts, which is against the law in most jurisdictions for adult front seat occupants. There was an incident last year in which a couple was caught by a traffic camera doing a sexual act in a moving vehicle, as detailed by News 18. The police didn’t arrest the couple for any serious charges. However, authorities fined the male driver for not wearing a seatbelt, along with points taken off his license. 

So, it’s not against the law to have consensual sex in a stationary car in a private location — away from the wandering eyes of others. However, it’s illegal to do it in a public area within public view — or dangerously driving in a moving car without wearing a seatbelt.