If you are thinking it is illegal to sleep in your car, you are not alone. Several people have to deal with hectic schedules. And many people decide to take a quick nap while sitting inside the car. Some might not even know why they doze off while waiting for someone doing grocery or picking up kids from school.
So, a big question here; is it illegal to sleep in your car? Does the law have anything to say about it? Sleeping in your car mostly occurs in overnight parking or even at rest stops and parking lots. But you have to adhere to the local laws because different states have different things to say about the matter of sleeping in your car.
Without a doubt, falling asleep when you are on the road and driving is dangerous. But what about having shut-eye once you pull over. This guide will explain all the important points you need to keep in mind associated with the matter.
Why Do People Sleep in Their Cars?
For most people, their cars are their second homes. It is especially the case when people have busy schedules. Instead of going home to take some rest, they prefer to stay in their cars and drive off to their destination to avoid wasting time.
People also have their personal belongings in their cars and perform everyday rituals as they would do at their homes. College students are more prone to sleeping in their cars. Because the hostel and tuition fees are quite high throughout the country. For some students, housing can be a huge burden to bear.
In numerous states, the cost of buying real estate is extremely high as well. So, some people prefer to sleep in the car. Travelers on a tight budget also tend to sleep in their cars and don’t go to a hotel.
Is Sleeping in Your Car Illegal?
In a short answer, you are not breaking any law if you want to sleep in the car. There is no nationwide law that prohibits you from sleeping in your car.
But overnight parking is illegal in some states, especially in public areas like parking lots and rest stops. Moreover, some cities in the country also have regional laws that don’t allow you to sleep in your car. Since 2014, more than 81 towns have it illegal to sleep in your car.
If you are driving through a state for the first time and you don’t know the rules, it would be a better thing to research before you hit the road.
There are various kinds of online guides available to sift through. These include the likes of HipCamp and AllStays. Resources like these provide you with a list of safe parking regions to rest and have a little shut-eye during your journey.
Is It Safe to Sleep in Your Car Overnight?
Some people sleep in their cars because they do not afford houses. But if you have a house and still like to sleep inside your car occasionally, you will have to assess the safety.
There are some risks associated if you are sleeping in your car. For example, if you leave your engine running because you are using AC in the summers, you might deal with carbon monoxide poisoning.
And that is not all…
If you park your car in a dangerous region of a city with high criminal activity and doze off, you are vulnerable to assault and theft.
Some cities in different states of the US have made it illegal while others don’t even allow overnight parking in various areas like a parking lot or a rest stop. But still, no rule or code penalizes you if you are caught doing it. That is only the case if you are not intoxicated, not actively driving, or not trespassing.
What Does the Law Have to Say About Sleeping in the Car?
Certain localities and municipalities have their specific laws about this matter. And these laws are there to manage the issue of homelessness within the country within their jurisdiction.
From the years 2011 to 2014, there is a significant increase in the number of cities that are making sleeping in your car illegal. But these law changes didn’t sit well with most of the vehicle owners of those localities.
But some city management has gone the other way to change the law. For instance, sleeping in the car was illegal in LA near any private property or truck stops for one night but not anymore and similar is the case with New York and San Francisco.
So, you can surely say there is no definite answer to the question of sleeping in your car and its legality. Hence, you have to execute due diligence to find out is it legal to sleep in your car in your locality. If you travel a lot, you will have to frequently check the laws of different cities to avoid any confusion.
It’s a Matter of Safety, Not Legality
Instead of talking about whether is it illegal to sleep in your car or not, one should ask if it is safe. You have to be well aware of your current situation and the surroundings before you doze off.
If you park it on a side of a highway, you might end up in a traffic collision. This is because large trucks and semi-trailers tend to lose control and end up hitting. Your car insurance might not cover car-napping. So, this is an important point to compare car insurance if you nap in your car.
If you have to sleep in your vehicle, you need to park in a safe place. A large parking lot or an office complex would be a suitable place. But again, you have to ensure your surroundings before you snooze. If you park a car in an area where there are other vehicles, there is a level of security in such a scenario.
Of course, you will have to be vigilant of any criminal elements. Make sure not to park your car in a neighborhood with wrongdoers strike frequently. You might end up getting robbed by them and there are chances of sexual assault and mugging as well. You may also lose your life in such incidents.
Can you sleep in your car in a Walmart parking lot?
Yes, you can. However, you need to park your vehicle in those Walmart stores that allow overnight parking. In fact, you can permanently park an RV or campervans at some Walmart locations.
Final Words – Is it Illegal to Sleep in Your Car?
Different states have different sets of rules when it comes to car-napping. But none of them penalize you for sleeping in your vehicle. It’s just a matter of safety over legality, you have to ensure the safety of the area where you are parking and trying to get some sleep.
Many laws have been amended recently. Check local laws and local criminal records and always look for large parking spaces or office complexes to park and doze off. There is always safety in numbers if you want to avoid any wrongdoers. Here’s a video for you for a bit of information on this matter.