Is Having Sex in a Car Against the Law in Texas?

December 8, 2022 - 4:58 am - 3 min read

Legal Definition of Public Indecency

Having sex in a car can be a tricky legal issue that varies from state to state. In Texas, having sex in a car is typically considered a criminal offense under the legal definition of public indecency. According to Texas Penal Code § 43.23(a)(1), a person commits public indecency if he or she engages in sexual conduct in a public place or exposes his or her genitals with the intent to arouse or gratify sexual desire.

It’s important to note that the law does not specify the location of the sexual conduct or exposure of genitals; however, public indecency charges often arise when the sexual conduct takes place in public view or in a place where the public has access. Therefore, if two consenting adults are having sex in a car parked in a deserted area, far away from public view, and no one sees them, then they may not be charged with public indecency.

The Bottom Line

While having sex in a car is not expressly prohibited in Texas, doing so in public view can lead to criminal charges of public indecency which carries a potential sentence of up to a year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine. Additionally, a public indecency conviction can result in a lifelong criminal record, which could affect job and educational opportunities. Therefore, it is advisable to keep sexual activity private, and away from public view.

Other Related Crimes

Aside from public indecency, having sex in a car could also potentially lead to charges of disorderly conduct or lewd conduct, which are both punishable by Texas law. Disorderly conduct is defined as behavior that involves a breach of the peace, and it can include actions that are deemed offensive to the public, such as loud and disruptive sexual activity in a car.

If a couple is caught having sex in a car by law enforcement, or if a passerby reports the incident to authorities, the couple could face a criminal charge of disorderly conduct. A lewd conduct charge could also arise in situations where the couple is exposing themselves in public or performing sexual acts in public view.

Legal Exceptions to the Law

There are some exceptions that allow for sexual conduct in public in Texas. For example, if a husband and wife engage in sexual conduct in a public place with the consent of the other, it is not considered public indecency. However, this exception would not apply to unmarried couples.

Moreover, sex workers who engage in sexual conduct in a car during the course of their work can be charged with prostitution, which is a criminal offense in Texas. It’s worth noting that engaging in prostitution is illegal in the state, and it is a Class B misdemeanor with a punishment of up to 180 days in jail and up to a $2,000 fine.


In conclusion, having sex in a car is neither expressly legal nor illegal in Texas. However, engaging in sexual activity in public view is likely to result in criminal charges of public indecency, disorderly conduct, or lewd conduct. If caught, the couple could face fines and jail time, and a criminal record that could affect future job or educational opportunities. Therefore, it is advisable to keep sexual activity private and far away from public view.


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