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Is It Illegal To Sleep in Your Car?

Generally, it is not illegal to sleep in your car, but this rule is subject to many exceptions. Whether you can legally sleep in your car will depend on different factors, including:

  • Your local and state laws
  • Where and when you parked
  • Whether you are intoxicated

In states where it is legal to sleep in your car, you should make sure to follow the state’s specific parking laws to ensure you are compliant.

State Laws Against Sleeping in Your Car

State laws against sleeping in your car vary considerably and apply in certain circumstances. States could, for example:

  • Prohibit sleeping in your car at rest stops, ban car camping anywhere, or prohibit overnight parking in public areas
  • Specify the time you can park your car
  • Allow overnight parking at certain locations

For instance, Colorado does not allow overnight parking at rest stops. But there are designated overnight parking areas in the state. Oklahoma allows overnight parking, while New York has a three-hour limit for parking at rest stops.

Although states vary when it comes to sleeping in your car, most states prohibit sleeping in your car while intoxicated. You may be charged with a DUI even if you are sleeping in a parked car if the state can show you are “in control of the vehicle.” In such cases, having keys in the ignition and sitting in the driver’s seat may be enough to show that you are actually in control of the vehicle.

Is There Federal Law Regarding Sleeping in Your Car?

Federal laws don’t penalize individuals for sleeping in their vehicles. State laws and city ordinances regulate this issue.

What Are the Penalties for Sleeping in Your Car?

Knowing the state’s laws when it comes to sleeping in your car is important since breaking these rules has consequences. In most cases, police will first give you a warning for loitering first and ask you to leave the premises. Repeated violations could result in fines, traffic tickets, or a trespassing charge.

Can I Park Anywhere?

Even in states that allow overnight parking, you shouldn’t park anywhere before knowing the rules. City streets, parks, and parking lots all have their own rules on where and when you can park. Thus, before parking your car to sleep, make sure the place allows extended parking by following parking signs.

Speak to an Attorney About Your Legal Needs

Sleeping in your car could be illegal depending on where you parked and the laws of the state. The penalties can be severe, especially if you are intoxicated. If you are facing a DUI charge for sleeping in your vehicle while intoxicated, it is best you contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.