Is it Legal to Live or Sleep in Your Car?

If you are like many people in the United States, whether students or working professionals, you probably spend a lot of time in your car. So much so that it starts to feel like your second home. If you start sleeping in your car, it actually becomes your home. But why live and sleep in your car? There could be many reasons - to save money during road trips by not paying for a hotel, to save money on rent when times are tough, finding freedom in having few possessions, or just because you are too tired to drive.

Whatever the reason for snoozing in your vehicle, know that sleeping or living in your car is not typically comfortable or convenient. That being said, is it doable and is it even legal?

The Law

Cities across the country are increasingly banning sleeping in cars. Not surprisingly, these laws are primarily focused on managing chronic homelessness in certain areas of the city. According to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, as many as 187 cities have significantly tightened parking restrictions or have banned sleeping in vehicles altogether. This is a 143 percent increase in laws targeting these issues when comparing 2006 to 2016. No one wants to wake up to the sound of a police officer’s nightstick banging on the car window. Therefore, make sure you check local laws to confirm whether or not sleeping - or living - in your car is allowed. Some cities, like Los Angeles, have struck down laws making it illegal to sleep in your vehicle, reasoning that it discriminates against the poor or homeless. Others in high-rent cities, like New York and San Francisco, allow for sleeping in your car albeit during specified hours. While many states across the nation allow overnight parking at rest stops, the majority of states do not.

That said, it is generally allowable to sleep in your car. This is true as long as you are not trespassing, inebriated, or actively driving.

Safety Concerns

While it is possible that most criminals will not target someone who is sleeping (or living) inside their car, someone who is doing so may feel quite vulnerable in their circumstances. There are at least two ways to try to protect yourself if you chose to (or have to) sleep and/or live in your car. First, be sure to camouflage yourself. This can include tinting your car windows, using blankets or tarps to cover yourself, or even piling up your personal possessions to hide your person. Second, choose a safe location to park. In other words, pulling off into the farthest corner of a deserted rest stop is probably a bad idea. The same is true if you are thinking of just parking on the side of the road. Instead, find a spot in the outside of a large big box store or a church or a nice neighborhood. In short, you want to be located in an area where there are several other cars parked on the street with yours.

Legal Help in Nevada

If you have questions about this topic, or are facing another legal issue in Las Vegas, contact the skilled lawyers at Parry & Pfau today.

(image courtesy of Lili Kovac)