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Catching a snooze in your vehicle may or may not be allowed, depending on the state or city’s laws. Even in areas where it’s legal, you might not be allowed to park on city main streets, the highway or public property not designated for parking. However, you can find a few locations that are commonly open to overnight visitors.
You won’t find a nationwide law banning people from sleeping in their cars. However, you must follow the state’s and city’s parking laws and any specific laws against sleeping in your car. In general, it’s best to find designated overnight parking areas ahead of time.
|State||Overnight parking at rest stops||Sleeping in car laws|
|Arizona||Allowed, but no camping outside the car|
|Arkansas||Allowed for safety purposes only, no camping|
|California||8-hour limit at rest stops, no overnight parking or camping|
|Delaware||4-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or camping|
|Florida||3-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or camping|
|Idaho||Allowed with a 10-hour limit, no camping outside the vehicle|
|Illinois||3-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or camping|
|Iowa||Allowed for one night under special circumstances, such as emergencies, no campingo utside the vehicle|
|Kansas||Allowed for one night only, no camping outside the vehicle|
|Kentucky||4-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or camping|
|Maryland||3-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or camping|
|Michigan||4-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or camping|
|Minnesota||4-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or camping|
|Mississippi||Allowed, but no camping outside the vehicle|
|Missouri||Allowed, but no camping outside the vehicle|
|Montana||Allowed, but no camping outside the vehicle|
|Nebraska||10-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or camping|
|Nevada||Allowed with a 24-hour limit, camping allowed|
|New Hampshire||4-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or camping|
|New Jersey||Overnight parking may be available in some areas, no camping|
|New Mexico||Allowed with a 24-hour limit, no camping|
|New York||3-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or camping|
|North Carolina||4-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or camping|
|North Dakota||Allowed, but no camping|
|Ohio||3-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or camping|
|Oklahoma||Allowed, but no camping|
|Oregon||Allowed with a 12-hour limit, no camping outside the vehicle|
|Pennsylvania||2-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or camping|
|Rhode Island||Allowed, but no camping|
|South Carolina||Not allowed|
|South Dakota||4-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or camping|
|Tennessee||2-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or camping|
|Texas||Allowed with a 24-hour limit, no camping outside the vehicle|
|Utah||Not allowed overnight, extended stays are allowed at the police’s discretion|
|Washington||Allowed with an 8-hour limit, no camping outside the vehicle|
|West Virginia||Allowed, but no camping|
|Wyoming||Sleeping in vehicles is allowed for those who need rest to drive safely, no camping outside the vehicle or extended stays|
It’s illegal if you’re sleeping in a city with ordinances specifically against sleeping in your car. Otherwise, you need to follow parking signs at rest areas, parking lots and on main streets to determine whether extended parking is allowed. Laws for overnight parking and sleeping in your car may vary by city because they have different consequences depending on where you are. For example, overnight parking on main city streets could lead to a bottleneck in traffic flow.
But regardless of city or state laws, sleeping in your car while intoxicated is illegal in most states. Many states’ DUI laws include provisions against having control over your vehicle, even if it’s off and parked. This may include any intoxicated person being in the driver’s seat, with keys in the ignition or otherwise with the capability of driving the car. That means you could get a DUI even if you’re only sleeping in your car and don’t intend to drive it.
While many cities have specific laws for car camping, you have several options for doing it legally. Those include:
Parking laws and sleeping in car laws tend to apply to vehicles in general, which includes unconventional vehicles, such as an RV, bus, van or camper. Be aware of any additional parking rules for oversized vehicles in cities and protecting yourself from the risks that accompany living on the road.
Sleeping in your car offers less security than a locked home or private hotel room because of the car’s open view and fewer locks than a home.
If you choose to get a night’s rest in your trusty vehicle, take care when choosing where you park. Some areas have higher crime rates than others, so you might stay away from alleys, or deserted or poorly lit sections of town. To pick a safe place to park, search for online crime maps or call the local police station to ask about crime in the area.
Letting your engine run while you’re sleeping can be dangerous if carbon monoxide levels start to rise. This is especially risky if the car is parked in an enclosed area like a garage.
Carbon monoxide levels can rise:
Passers-by can see your belongings in full view when items are packed inside your car. If an experienced thief sees valuables, they may break into your car while you’re distracted or away.
Consider the health implications of sleeping in your car, such as aggravating back or neck problems. Also, many avid car campers attest they don’t get as good a night’s rest as they do in a bed. Over time, these issues could take a toll on your health.
If you’ve lost your home and need help while you get back on your feet, explore resources that offer assistance during this time. You can look to local and national programs for help:
Car insurance should still pay out whether you’re sleeping in your car or not. However, you may need extra coverage in some situations.
Keep in mind that standard car insurance policies don’t cover your belongings inside the car. A few companies may offer a personal effects add-on for these situations.
However, your home policy or renters insurance might cover stolen belongings if you have that coverage. If not, you could opt for a separate personal property insurance policy.
Car insurance should cover you for these collisions as long as the driver has the proper coverage.
If you choose to sleep in your car, make sure to abide by all local laws and pick safe areas to stay overnight. While car insurance should cover you the same wherever you lay your head, you might need extra car insurance coverage to protect against car damage. Consider multiple coverage and car insurance options to find what suits you best.
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