Is it Illegal to Sleep in your Car?

Last Updated: by Marie Seska

There are many reasons why you might want to sleep in your car over night. While it might not be the most comfortable place to sleep, especially if you have a small car, it can definitely be accomplished however the legality of spending the night in your car depends on state and city laws.

To be on the safe side always check local laws before planning on sleeping in your car over night, after all the last thing you want is to be woken up in the middle of the night be a police officer!

Is it Illegal to Sleep in Your Car at Walmart?

It is legal to sleep at most Walmarts around the country and if you might not find yourself alone. Camping out in Walmart parking lots has been popular for years with many different communities. While you might not find a welcoming committee when you arrive for your overnight stay it is free and you should not receive any trouble from law enforcement as long as you keep to yourself and do not cause problems.

Sleeping in the car

There are many locations across the country that have designated RV parking especially in popular travel areas however many people spend the night in their car or the bed of their truck. For best results you should still focus on keeping a low profile and drawing as little attention to yourself as possible. Make sure to buy something in the store and use the restroom one final time before retiring to your car for the night.

Is it Illegal to Sleep in Your Car in California?

It is safe and legal to sleep in your car in most places in California, as long as you are not trust-passing, on private property or causing a disturbance. Other things to keep an eye out for are No Overnight Parking, Reserved Parking and Handicap Parking signs which could cause additional legal or towing problems.

Many California cities have specific laws regarding the homeless so make sure to do your research before hand. While you might not consider yourself homeless sleeping in your car still might fall under some of these laws. If you are worried about finding a safe and legal place to stay there are many parks, RV parks and CALTRANS rest stops that have free or cheap overnight stays.

Is it Illegal to Sleep in Your Car in New York?

There are no standing laws against sleeping in your vehicle in New York but you may be subject to a number of other laws and local regulations. Laws against sleeping in your car were recently ruled to be unfair against the homeless and so you should not have any problem as long as you watch for road signs and private property.

Usually the worst thing that will happen is you will be asked move and find somewhere else to go. There are also many public and private parks and campgrounds that are available for overnight stay. If you are trying to stay in New York City and feel sneaky you can always try to find a place on top of a parking garage in warmer months.

Is it Illegal to Sleep in Your Car in Texas?

Sleeping in your car is legal in Texas, but beware of the heat! If you have to sleep in your car in the Lone Star State be sure to keep your windows cracked and have a bottle of water handy.

Most people elect to sleep in a tent, RV or even in a hammock if they have to sleep outside in Texas however your car is always a great option. Before choosing a spot to sleep in for the night check the area for No Parking Signs, Handicap Signs and Private Property Signs just to be sure you will have no trouble. Remember, sleeping in your car near the Gulf of Mexico is going to be much different than in the panhandle so make sure to plan ahead.

Is it Illegal to Sleep in Your Car in Michigan?

Camping in your car in Michigan is legal just be sure to stay warm during the winter. Unless it is snowing outside usually all you will need is a light blanket, a pillow and your car!

There are many free places to sleep with your car in Michigan. The most popular places to sleep in your car are Walmart parking lots, camp grounds, overnight shopping centers and inconspicuous areas.

State Legality
Alabama Yes – Sleeping is legal!
Alaska Yes – Be careful in the cold!
Arizona Yes – Be careful in the Summer heat!
Arkansas Yes!
California Yes – Watch for private property!
Colorado No - Check local campgrounds
Connecticut Yes – In rest areas along the Illinois Toll Road
Delaware No
Florida No
Georgia No
Hawaii No
Idaho Yes- 8 hrs. for Interstate rest areas; 16 hrs for Highway rest areas
Illinois Yes – In rest areas along the Illinois Toll Road
Indiana No
Iowa No
Kansas Yes - With limitations
Kentucky No
Louisiana No
Maine No
Maryland No
Massachusetts No
Michigan Yes – Sleeping in your car is legal
Minnesota Yes – Sleeping in your car is legal
Mississippi Yes – Sleeping in your car is legal
Missouri Yes – Sleeping in your car is legal
Montana Yes – Sleeping in your car is legal
Nebraska Yes – 8 hour limit
Nevada Yes – Sleeping in your car is legal
New Hampshire No
New Jersey Yes – limited overnight parking
New Mexico Yes – Sleeping in your car is legal
New York Yes – Beware of local laws!
North Carolina No
North Dakota No
Ohio Yes- Beware of local laws!
Oklahoma Yes – Sleeping in your car is legal
Oregon Yes – Sleeping in your car is legal
Pennsylvania No
Rhode Island No
South Carolina No
South Dakota No
Tennessee No
Texas Yes – Sleeping in your car is legal
Utah Yes – Sleeping in your car is legal
Vermont No
Virginia No
Washington Yes – Beware of local laws!
West Virginia No
Wisconsin No
Wyoming Yes – Beware of local laws!

Legal Places to Sleep in your Car

Finding a legal place to sleep in your car nearby might be easier than you expect. Most Walmarts will let you sleep in the back of the lot for a night but if that is not an option there are always alternatives. Campsites, RV Parks and other hidden away spots can provide a place to park and sleep for the night.

Remember to be careful! Many public parking lots, garages and parks may be public spaces and seem like overnight parking is legal but the local police might not welcome your presence! If the police or a security guard approaches your vehicle and ask to move it is best to hit the road!

Marie Seska

Marie Seska

Marie Seska is one of the most trusted sources on the net for sleep information. She searches the web - as well as the latest medical journals to bring her readers the latest news and information.

Leave a Comment