There are many reasons why you would need to sleep in your vehicle. You could be waiting to “sober up” after drinking, you could be homeless and have nowhere else to temporarily stay, or you could be traveling and taking a quick nap. Whether or not you are sleeping in your car because you need somewhere to live, or if you need somewhere to temporarily sleep, you should know the potential ramifications of this. There are multiple factors that will depend on the circumstances you receive.
How Can I Legally Sleep in my Car?
There are a few tips you should take if you are planning on taking a long road trip or if you have become temporarily displaced.
- Use rest stops and campsites: If you properly plan ahead, public rest stops are typically places where you can legally sleep in your vehicle. You can’t camp there, but you can park and keep your car in a parking spot for a few hours or potentially overnight. However, if it seems that you are attempting to live there, police who are monitoring the area might charge you for illegal camping. Make sure not to stay in a campground without permission or paying the appropriate fees.
- Be careful on public and private property: There are state laws and local regulations that apply to sleeping in your vehicle on public property. This will all depend on what type of public property, what time of the day it is, and where you specifically parked. Private property is usually a little more lenient, but make sure you personally check in with whomever owns the property and what their specific regulations are.
- Turn off your vehicle while you’re sleeping: Keeping your engine running while you’re sleeping is extremely dangerous to yourself and others. Carbon monoxide can build up inside the vehicle if you don’t have any windows open, and you will also run out of gas much faster. If it’s cold, make sure you pack blankets, jackets, or insulated sleeping bags so you won’t have to keep the heat on.
- Don’t drink and drive: Many people will want to sleep for a short period of time after a night out with too many drinks. If this is your only safe option, don’t hesitate to do this. Some tips are to sleep in the back seat instead of the front, turn off your engine, and keep your car keys out of view. Keep in mind that you could still receive a parking ticket or a DUI charge.
Sleeping in your car is a risky move to make, because you could be putting yourself at risk for arrest or injuries. Steve Gnau can tell you more on the importance of safe driving, contact his office today.