Is it illegal to sleep in your car?

If you can't afford your auto insurance rates, is it illegal to sleep in your car? No, it isn't, but you must have an active insurance policy if you drive it anywhere at all. Sleeping in your car isn't illegal, but different states have different rules about where you can sleep. Is it illegal to sleep in your car at a campsite? No, and a campsite also allows you to cook food, shower, and use the bathroom.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: May 5, 2022

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Things to Remember

  • When it comes to sleeping at rest stops, each state has different laws
  • Walmart parking lots and campsites typically allow drivers to sleep in their cars
  • It is crucial to turn off your car when you are sleeping

Driving long into the night can be dangerous, but what can you do if you don’t know where to find a motel or don’t have anywhere to go? Most drivers in this situation must resort to sleeping in their car, but doing so isn’t always as simple as you think.

Is it illegal to sleep in your car, even if you have affordable auto insurance? It can be in certain areas of your state. Of course, driving while sleepy is very dangerous. So, before you head out for the day, make sure that you know the answers to questions like, “is it illegal to sleep in your car in California?” or “is it illegal to sleep in your car at a truck stop?”

Luckily, if you find yourself asking, “where can I get auto insurance quotes?” and, “is it illegal to sleep in your car?” you can find both free auto insurance quotes and pertinent information about sleeping in your car with the push of a button.

If you are wondering, “is it illegal to sleep in your car?” enter your ZIP code to obtain free car insurance quotes right away.

Where is it illegal for drivers to park overnight?

Planning a road trip or finding yourself without traditional housing can leave your mind spinning with all sorts of questions like these:

  • Is it illegal to sleep in your car in Texas?
  • Is it illegal to sleep in your car in Florida?

If you’re not sure what your state rules are for parking somewhere throughout the night, review this extensive chart to determine if your state allows for overnight parking in areas like rest stops.

StateState Parking Rules
Alabama-Parking overnight at rest stops is prohibited
-Parking on highways is not allowed
-Intoxicated drivers can be arrested for sleeping in their cars
- Various cities have bans on sleeping in the car
Alaska-Laws are city specific
Arizona-Overnight parking is allowed at rest stops
-Drivers can be arrested for sleeping in their cars while intoxicated
Arkansas-Overnight parking at rest stops is allowed
California-Over parking at rest stops is prohibited
-Overnight parking is only allowed in certain parking lots
Colorado-Parking overnight at rest stops is prohibited
-Overnight parking in certain lots is allowed
-Intoxicated drivers can be arrested for sleeping in their cars
-Parking on a highway is prohibited
Connecticut-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
Delaware-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
Florida-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
-Intoxicated drivers can be arrested for sleeping in their cars
Georgia-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
Hawaii-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
-Sleeping in your vehicle is prohibited
-No overnight parking on private property without permission
Idaho-Parking overnight at a rest stop is allowed
Illinois-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
Indiana-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
Iowa-Parking overnight at a rest stop is allowed for one night only
Kansas-Parking overnight at a rest stop is allowed for one night only
Kentucky-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
Louisiana-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
Maine-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
Maryland-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
Massachusetts-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
Michigan-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
Minnesota-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
Missouri-Parking overnight at a rest stop is allowed
Montana-Parking overnight at a rest stop is allowed
Nebraska-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
Nevada-Parking overnight at a rest stop is allowed
New Hampshire-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
New Jersey-Parking overnight at a rest stop is allowed at some rest stops
New Mexico-Parking overnight at a rest stop is allowed
New York-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
North Carolina-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
North Dakota-Parking overnight at a rest stop is allowed
Ohio-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
Oklahoma-Parking overnight at a rest stop is allowed
Oregon-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
Pennsylvania-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
Rhode Island-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
South Carolina-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
South Dakota-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
Tennessee-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
Texas-Parking overnight at a rest stop is allowed
Utah-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
Vermont-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
Virginia-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
Washington-Parking overnight at a rest stop is allowed
West Virginia-Parking overnight at a rest stop is allowed
Wisconsin-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
Wyoming-Parking overnight at a rest stop is prohibited
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Educating yourself on the rules of where you can and can’t sleep overnight can help reduce the number of headaches you endure while out on the road. Now, let’s examine some areas where you can legally sleep in your car.

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Where can drivers legally sleep in their cars?

Drivers looking for a place to catch some shut-eye can find some unexpected solace in a Walmart parking lot. While you won’t be allowed to set up a full campsite, you won’t have to worry about being kicked off the premises while in the midst of getting your beauty sleep.

If you’re looking for a spot that will allow you to cook food and get clean, you should consider reserving a spot at a campsite. While you will have to pay a fee, most campsites are incredibly affordable and provide showers, bathrooms, and cooking amenities.

How can drivers safely sleep in their cars?

Your safety is essential, so when sleeping in your car you should keep it ventilated and insulated. Two windows should be slightly cracked open so that you can access fresh air without having to worry about someone attempting to reach inside your vehicle to open it.

Most likely, you’ll wake up to find that condensation has formed on your windows, so you should keep a cloth in your car to clean them and to improve your driving visibility.

In order to keep warm on chilly nights, pack extra clothes and a thick blanket or a sleeping bag. You may be tempted to keep your engine running during the night, but you should never do so as it can be dangerous for you and also draw attention to your car.

Do drivers need auto insurance to sleep in their cars?

If you can’t afford your auto insurance rates, is it illegal to sleep in your car? No, it isn’t. However, if you drive the vehicle at all — even just down the street — you must have an active insurance policy.

While you won’t ask your auto insurance company if it’s illegal to sleep in your car, you should ask them about obtaining proper coverage, particularly if you sleep in your car regularly. Your insurance can help you get a tow or even replace your vehicle if you suffer a total loss.

Those features may sound costly, but most major insurance companies offer discounts that can make such coverage affordable. If you think you need to reduce your insurance rates, review this list of discounts the next time you examine your insurance policy:

Commonly Available Insurance Discounts

Vehicle Discounts:Driver/Customer Discounts:Personal Discounts:
Active Disabling DeviceClaim FreeEmergency Deployment
Adaptive Cruise ControlContinuous CoverageFamily Legacy
Adaptive HeadlightsDefensive DriverFamily Plan
Anti-Lock BrakesDriver's EducationFederal Employee
Audible AlarmDriving Device/AppFurther Education
Automatic BrakingEarly SigningGood Student
Blind Spot WarningFull PaymentHomeowner
Daytime Running LightsGood CreditLife Insurance
Economy VehicleLoyaltyMarried
Electronic Stability ControlMultiple PoliciesMembership/Group
Farm/Ranch VehicleMultiple VehiclesMilitary
Forward Collision WarningNew Customer/New PlanNew Address
Garaging/StoringOccasional OperatorNew Graduate
Green/Hyrbid VehicleOnline ShopperNon-Smoker/Non-Drinker
Lane Departure WarningOn-Time PaymentsOccupation
Newer VehiclePaperless/Auto BillingRecent Retirees
Passive RestraintPaperless DocumentsStable Residence
Utility VehicleRoadside AssistanceStudent Away
Vehicle RecoverySafe DriverStudent or Alumni
VIN EtchingSeat Belt UseVolunteer
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When you properly utilize car insurance discounts and follow safe driving practices, you’ll find that your insurance rates can be quite affordable. That will allow you to get the insurance you need to drive safely on the roads.

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Sleeping in Your Car: The Bottom Line

Where you can legally sleep in your car will vary from state to state, as each one has its own approach to overnight parking laws. Before you set out on the road, make use of free online resources to confirm where you can legally and safely park for the night.

Campsites are great spots that allow you to cook food, shower, and use the bathroom. You will need to pay a fee to park at these sites; however, the cost is usually less than staying at a motel.

If you cannot find a place to stay indoors, you should keep your car in a safe area, well ventilated, and warm.

If you’re wondering, where can I purchase auto insurance? and, is it illegal to sleep in your car? you can shop online to find a policy to protect you while you’re out on the road.

If you’ve ever thought, is it illegal to sleep in your car? enter your ZIP code to begin comparing free quotes from car insurance companies near you. 

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