I feel as though I've seen this scene in movies or tv shows more than once: Someone is driving along, seemingly enjoying themselves. They get pulled over by the cops and then another person's head rises up from where it was hidden from the camera - in their lap. *Cue now you're in trouble sound effects...

It's pretty obvious to me why this is a dangerous practice, but I'm interested to know what law explicitly prohibits it.

I'm most interested in Australian law, as that's where I live, but almost as interested in US, Canadian or UK law, as these are often the setting of such movies.

  • 1
    The offenses would be distracted driving, or failure to maintain a proper lookout.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jul 30, 2018 at 19:23

2 Answers 2


Well, this kind of situation is generally approached in a very broad way. After all, for the practical result it does not make much difference if the driver is distracted by intimate stimulation or by reading a book, and the legislators do not usually want to make a full list of all possible distractions1.

So, for example, the Victoria Road Safety Act 1986 states (page 96):

17A Obligations of road users
(1) A person who drives a motor vehicle on a highway must drive in a safe manner having regard to all the relevant factors.
(2A) For the purposes of subsections (1) and (2) and without limiting their generality, the relevant factors include the following—
(g) the physical and mental condition of the driver or road user.
(3) A road user must—
(a) take reasonable care to avoid any conduct that may endanger the safety or welfare of other road users;
(b) take reasonable care to avoid any conduct that may damage road infrastructure and non-road infrastructure on the road reserve;
(c) take reasonable care to avoid conduct that may harm the environment of the road reserve.

Apart from that, and depending of the situation, there is the possibility of being subject to anti-indecency laws if the act can be observed from outsiders (e.g. you are riding in a motorcicle).

1If you have a very specific list, then other activities that are equally dangerous but that are not in the list are not illegal.

That does not prevent that sometimes the laws mention certain practices separatedly because:

  • They want some specific behavior to be punished differently (e.g. driving while drunk).

  • They want to make clear that an specific behavior is illegal (e.g. using the phone while driving is illegal even if you claim that it does not impair your driving).


Is receiving intimate stimulation while driving illegal?

Under Michigan law, it seems illegal. What you describe is one particular case of a general family of scenarios where recklessness or negligence are elements of a driver-related offense. Thus, it would be inefficient and redundant to enact a statute to prohibit that specific hypothetical situation.

MCL 257.626(2) sanctions the operation of a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property, and as you mention

It's pretty obvious to me why this is a dangerous practice

MCL 257.626b sanctions the operation of a vehicle in a careless or negligent manner likely to endanger any person or property, but without wantonness or recklessness.

A prosecutor might try to file charges also on the basis of MCL 750.335, which sanctions "open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior".

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