News & Politics

Here Are DC’s Top Peeing-in-Public Spots

MPD data reveals where the most tickets have been written.

Photograph by iStock.

Here at Washingtonian, we are champions of public transparency. “Democracy dies in darkness,” as they say. To do our part, we used the Freedom of Information Act to learn where DC police have been issuing the most tickets for public urination. As a result, we can now reveal the District’s top three hotspots for plein air peeing over the last two years:

  1. The 600 block of H St., NW, right outside Capital One Arena (four incidents)
  2. The 2400 block of 18th St., NW, outside a strip of bars in Adams Morgan (three incidents—plus two more a couple blocks away)
  3. The 1700 block of DeSales St., NW, near Dupont Circle (two incidents)

To be clear, MPD is not issuing very many of these tickets: In the past two years, police have recorded just 29 instances of public urination or defecation. (In its data, MPD does not separate urination and defecation, but a sampling of ten incident reports reveals 100% pee.) MPD could not provide all the incident reports requested, but the ones Washingtonian did obtain include some piquant details. 

One man who police say they caught peeing near Dupont Circle was apparently talking on his cell phone while publicly relieving himself—all “within 10 feet of a police vehicle.” When the officer ambled over to ask this man for ID, he claimed to be from outside the District, according to the report. Marylanders and Virginians take note: That did not spare him a ticket. 

Another man who cops said peed in an alley by Capital One Arena inspired some evocative description from MPD: He was described as “urinating on a red brick wall with his right hand down by his crotch. [The officer] noticed a stream of liquid emanating from [the man’s] crotch area. The liquid was splashing across the wall and spilling onto the ground.” On most of these reports, the victim is listed as “public society.” Unfortunately, MPD did not provide details on the intrepid soul who peed right near the Cheesecake Factory by the White House. Reader, was it you?

In general, the incident reports contain few details, so it’s difficult to tell what circumstances led to the offense. But certainly, not all of these tickets were issued to barhopping bros; public-urination laws disproportionately affect people who are unhoused and have limited access to bathrooms.  


Sylvie McNamara
Staff Writer