Is Sleeping In Your Car Legal?
Nodding off while driving is hazardous for you and others on the road. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to pull over and get some sleep. Sleeping in your car is much cheaper than getting a hotel for the night.
But is sleeping in your car legal? Let’s take a look.
Is Sleeping in Your Car Legal?
The act of sleeping in your car is legal in all 50 states, but where you can park is the bigger question. Laws governing sleeping in your car vary from state to state and even city to city.
For example, more than a dozen states prohibit sleeping in your car at rest stops, and towns constantly evaluate local ordinances. As a result, many well-known businesses that typically allow overnight parking are adjusting to comply with new local regulations.
Keep in mind: A new bill in Texas will make sleeping in your car, in a public place, a crime.
Be sure you do your research to verify the legality of sleeping in your car before you do it. You may need to park in certain areas or during certain hours, but you don’t want to get a ticket or fine for it. When in doubt, ask the management or call the police to verify.
Is It Legal to Sleep in Your Car at Walmart?
Walmart developed a reputation for being camper-friendly. Many RVers would utilize their large parking lots to park their rigs, stock up on supplies, and get a good night’s sleep. Whether you were in a massive fifth wheel or your car, you likely wouldn’t be bothered overnight. However, the number of Walmarts offering free overnight parking is quickly dwindling.
While many campers would use Walmart parking lots as an overnight stay on the way to their next destination, not all did. Sometimes, people would set up shop in a section of a Walmart parking lot and not move.
The more this occurred, the more legislation came along to prohibit or restrict overnight camping. Walmart as a whole still allows sleeping in their parking lots, but often it’s only where local ordinances allow.
If you’re interested in staying overnight in a Walmart parking lot, purchase something to support the business and get permission. You can ask a manager or assistant manager.
Why Do Some Places Make It Illegal to Sleep in Your Car?
Many stores and towns are making it illegal to sleep in your car to curb homelessness. In addition, not all overnight campers clean up after themselves, which often leads to complaints and new ordinances.
Trash and homelessness often drive down the value of the surrounding area. Businesses and property values suffer when a location deteriorates. Local municipalities pass ordinances to prevent this and create a safe and thriving community.
Is It Safe to Sleep in Your Car?
Sleeping in your car in public can be extremely dangerous. Consider where you’re parking. You don’t want to put yourself or others in an unsafe situation.
There are a few things you can do to increase your safety. Avoid parking in dark places; find a street light to park under or near. It’s also beneficial if where you’re parking has video cameras and monitoring. The final thing you can do is park toward the front of the store. Look for places with a generous amount of foot and vehicular traffic.
Tips for Comfortable Sleeping in Your Car
If you’ll be sleeping in your car, here are a few tips to optimize your comfort.
Build a Bed Platform
When you build a bed platform, you drastically increase the bed size and levelness. Car seats are not for lying across. However, if you have a few tools and some DIY know-how, you’ll be able to take on this project easily.
A bed platform will help you get a better night’s sleep and provide more space when relaxing in your car. Make sure it fits snuggly and doesn’t move around to avoid damage or injury.
Get an Air Mattress for the Back Seat
Having an air mattress for your back seat is a great option. An air mattress is light and stows away relatively easily and efficiently. Make sure you have a way to inflate the mattress when needed.
A quality air mattress can be equally as comfortable as some cheaper standard beds. However, be sure to fold up your air mattress after each use, so it doesn’t get damaged.
Get or Make Window Shades
Window shades will not only keep the light and heat out of your vehicle, but they’ll also create some privacy. Window shades make it nearly impossible for people to see into your car. They might even afford you enough privacy to get changed in your vehicle.
You can have a set of custom window shades made or find material at your local home improvement store. Many use a material that helps reflect the heat to keep their vehicles cooler.
Learn to Find Great Free Car Camping Spots
If you’re looking for a free place to camp, we’ve got a few options. The Walmart Locator website will help you find Walmarts in the area known for allowing overnight camping. Another popular app is AllStays. This app collects information on Walmarts, Cracker Barrels, and other businesses known for hosting overnight guests.
It’s never safe to drive while you’re sleepy. Do yourself and others a favor and find a safe and legal place to pull over and get some sleep if you need it. You should always verify that the spot you’re planning to sleep in allows overnight camping. Have you ever had to pull over and get some sleep while on the road?
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