When you work at a radio station, you see weird things every day. Even so, someone peeing in public generally isn't on the list.

We've had everyone from superstar musicians to local roller derby skaters in our halls in 2023, but nothing stopped me in my tracks like the gentleman who decided to relieve himself in our parking lot. Listen, when you gotta go you gotta go... but when is it actually legal to pee outdoors?

When is it legal to publicly urinate in New York? This gentleman may be curious to know the law
When is it legal to publicly urinate in New York? This gentleman may be curious to know the law (TSM Poughkeepsie)

Public Urination in New York State

I have to hand it to the full-bladdered gentleman (above), as he used the perfect modesty cover for his emergency bathroom break. Opening both the front and rear passenger doors, the man stood in between them to create a waist-high privacy shield. This fact could come in handy when discussing the legality of what he did.

New York's Definition of Public Urination

New York State files public urination under "offenses against public order", and quite succinctly defines the act as the following:

A person is guilty of public urination if, in a public place, as defined by New York State Penal Code § 240.00, he or she shall urinate other than in a urinal or toilet

While this leaves very little room for interpretation, there are still a few ways to avoid a citation if nature calls unexpectedly. First, the words "public place" are important. This provides leeway, for example, for a person peeing on private property, as long as they have received permission from property owners and that their genitalia isn't clearly visibly to the public. And speaking of genitalia...

Possible Loopholes in Public Urination Laws

This is only anecdotal, but a story I heard from my law professor in college still sticks with me to this day. Their client had received a citation for public urination, and appeared before a judge to fight the ticket. Maybe the judge was feeling especially literal that day, because he asked the officer if they had observed the urine actually exiting the person's body...

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When the officer replied that he only saw the perpetrator from behind, and therefore only saw the stream of liquid, the judge ruled that since the officer couldn't be certain  what they were witnessing was the act of urination, the case was dismissed.

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So if you need to pee in public, do it modestly and on private property (with permission). If you're still caught, try to ask for a particularly pedantic judge. But also, context is helpful. A drunk college student peeing on the side of a New Paltz bar is much different than the man who so carefully set up a private urinal with his car doors after business hours in Poughkeepsie, NY. Either way, don't take my word as legal advice... and always try and pee in the most legal place available.

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