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Is It Illegal To Sleep In Your Car?


So, is sleeping in a car really illegal? Such a practice is often considered an indispensable part of long road trips, a temporary solution for those who face financial constraints, or simply a moment of rest to avoid drowsy driving, all that under a patchwork of laws that varies vastly from one jurisdiction to the other. And today’s post unravels the question of the legality of sleeping in a car, taking you through an ultimate guide with respect to the laws governing the same, handy tips on how to sleep safely and comfortably in your car, and much more. Alright, let’s get going now.

Is It Illegal To Sleep In Your Car

Understanding the Legality

Well, there was no such federal law that could directly prohibit one to sleep in his car. But now, under the light of state and local laws on the issue, it’s a whole different story. The most common one is the prevention of overnight parking in public spaces, very many times related to homelessness issues or even the aesthetics and safety of the community.

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State and Local Regulations

There are some state and local regulations that can vary from one state or city to another, between strict laws and regulations against this kind of activity and an open view of them, with extremely relaxed conditions. For instance, in some parts of Florida, such as Key West, there is a stay from sleeping in the car because of the high rate of tourists and spaces in parking. Some of the parking lots of this particular chain all over the country even allow overnight guests officially, although the staff is always the best resource for checking. In other words, while there isn’t a set state law against it, you could still be punished depending on where you parked and chose to sleep.

Avoiding DUI Charges

DUI charges are among the most important legal considerations; in many states, if a person is drunk and seated in the driver’s seat of a parked car, he can be charged with DUI because it is visible that the person was controlling the car. Accordingly, if one is to sleep off drunkenness in a car, it has to be in the back seat with the keys not in the ignition.

So Where You Can Legally Sleep in Your Car

  • Many states allow overnight parking at rest stops for travelers. However, the allowed duration can vary, so check for that.
  • Many Walmarts are open to car and RV parking overnight, although prior checking must be undertaken with store management.
  • In general, national and state parks do allow overnight car sleeping for some cost and the necessity to reserve space in advance.
  • There are some Safe Parking Programs in place too, which are designed to encourage people living on the streets or in their cars to come and sleep in lots where they will be located near services and support.


All in all, while it is a convenient option for many people, from those on the road to those in transition in life, sleeping in your car is something that must always be done while aware of the laws and prepared. Being aware of these laws, looking for places where it is allowed to do so, and taking steps to make sure you are comfortable and safe will, without a doubt, help make your days and rest at night on the road a lot easier.


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