While the cultural aversion to performing basic bodily functions in the open air is widespread, all too often it is tested by immediate physical pressures.
The rights and wrongs of this quandary have been tested in court after a couple in Somerset, John and Cherry Pusey, tried to force their local council to close a lay-by near their home which passing motorists regularly used for open-air “comfort breaks”.
However, Lord Justice Ward - sitting with Lords Justice Longmore and Patten at the Court of Appeal - ruled that the urinating drivers’ impact was not “cumulatively intolerable” because they were not “obviously visible” from the Puseys’ home, according to reports.
But whatever the legal position, not everyone will be convinced that this represents a factor in mitigation.
The spectacle of drunken revellers fouling town centres in the early hours of weekends is regularly held up as a symptom of societal decline.
There was widespread public anger at student Philip Laing, caught urinating on a Sheffield war memorial in 2009. And the practice can be deemed “disorderly behaviour” in England and Wales, an offence punishable with a fine under the 1986 Public Order Act.
Local authorities in Chester launched a crackdown after fears that well-refreshed revellers were causing irreparable damage to the city’s medieval walkways.
Even Paris, home of the pissoir, launched a high-profile, all-out crackdown on outdoor urination.
Environmental concerns have also driven the fight against al fresco relief. Researchers in Germany believe swimmers passing water into Eichbaum lake, Hamburg, are partly responsible for an algae bloom that killed more than 500 fish.
For this reason, the Glastonbury Festival regularly deploys a “green police” force which threatens revellers with expulsion if they fail to use toilets, amid fears that excess urination could affect the local water, polluting rivers and streams.
The zero-tolerance stance is backed by Raymond Boyd Martin, managing director of the British Toilet Association, which represents the UK lavatory industry.