Is it Illegal to Sleep in Your Car Overnight?

A person sleeping in their car is more common than you may think. People do it on road trips to save the cost of expensive hotel rooms. Others do it for longer periods of time in order to save money on rent. Some people don’t plan it, they make a spur of the moment decision as they realize they are feeling too tired to drive. Sleeping in your car’s not always comfortable or convenient, but it is doable. Yet, some may ask this question “Is it even legal to sleep in your car?” Let’s explore this question and the possible answers here.

Not surprisingly, the answer is “it depends.” Every year, more and more cities ban people from sleeping in their cars. This is an effort aimed at battling and managing homelessness or homeless people simply “setting up camp” in a parking lot.

The city of Los Angeles, CA allows people to sleep in their cars. It was illegal up until 2014, but now you can. The practice is also legal in other high-rent cities like New York City and San Francisco. Cities as close as Austin, TX allow it too. Several states allow overnight parking at rest stops for weary travelers. But what about San Antonio? Right now, the city of San Antonio does not allow you to sleep in your car. If a police officer sees you doing so, he or she will ask you to move along. Of course, it’s possible to find a private location and sleep for a few hours. Since no one wants to wake up to the sound of a police officer’s nightstick rapping on the car window, we recommend following all city laws and rules and not trying to do so.

If you do decide you need to sleep and a police officer sees you, it’s very unlikely you’ll get in trouble if that is all you are doing. If you are trespassing or inebriated that’s another story! You should know that you could be charged with DUI even if you’re sleeping and the car is parked. Doing drugs in a car is illegal, of course, so falling asleep in your vehicle as the result of partaking in any banned substances will land you in trouble when the police sees you.

There’s also the question of whether it is safe or not. Sleeping in a parking lot, especially under a light, is generally pretty safe. A criminal is unlikely to try to break in with you sitting right there. If you opt for something more private and out of the way, you may be setting yourself up to be a target though. Don’t pull off into the farthest corner of a deserted rest stop or park on the side of a road. Instead, find a spot in a lot outside a large, 24-hour store or in a church parking lot.

There are other dangers beyond a potential criminal finding you that you should be aware of. Sleeping in your car while it is on makes it possible for you to breathe in carbon monoxide. Even turned off, the fumes from the gas tank can overwhelm you.

Hopefully, this answers your question. For any other inquiries, including whether your Texas car insurance covers your possessions while you’re sleeping or living in your car, reach out to Pronto Insurance and ask!