Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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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. 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.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Dec 22, 2021

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The Lowdown

  • All but eight states allow you to sleep overnight at a rest stop
  • States like California limit drivers who camp in their vehicles, and cities may have more limits on drivers who sleep in their cars
  • Always have auto insurance to protect against theft and parked car accidents

Is it illegal to sleep in your car with auto insurance? Whether you can sleep in your car without breaking any laws depends on the state and the city where you are sleeping.

The good news is that most states will allow you to sleep in your car. States maintain rest areas for the safety and comfort of drivers. However, some states and cities put strict limits on where and when you can sleep in public.

Now, how does sleeping in your car affect your auto insurance? It depends on the coverage you have and if your car suffers any damage where you decide to park it.

Find out when and where you can sleep in your car with auto insurance and what you can do to stay safe if you get tired on the road. If you would like to see rates from top auto insurance companies where you live, enter your ZIP code into our free quote tool above.

When and where can you legally sleep in your car?

For example, is it illegal to sleep in your car at a truck stop?

In short, it is not illegal to sleep in your car if you are in a designated rest stop and know the rules.

Now, what about states? For example, is it illegal to sleep in your car in California? Is it illegal to sleep in your car in Texas? Is it illegal to sleep in your car in Florida or states like Washington or Minnesota?

Well, you can legally sleep in your car in all those states since they have resting areas. However, some of the states do have camping restrictions. Also, eight states do not allow overnight stays at resting areas.

States That Do Not Allow Overnight Sleeping at Designated Resting Areas

In all, eight states will not allow you to sleep overnight at a rest stop: Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Hawaii is the only state without designated rest areas. However, it does not put a limit on how long someone can rest in their car.

States That Have Parking Restrictions

Most states do have some sort of parking restrictions in place. In all, 31 states will either limit camping areas, put a time limit on sleeping at resting areas, or have some combination of both.

Is it illegal to sleep in your car with auto insurance? States With Parking Limits

StateTime Limit at Rest Areas (in Hours)Anti-Camping Restriction
California8Yes
Delaware6 (Smyrna Rest Area), None for 1-95 Welcome CenterYes
Florida10 for commercial vehicles, 3 for othersYes
GeorgiaNo limitYes
Idaho10 for interstate, 16 on other highwaysYes
Illinois3Yes
Iowa24Yes
Kansas24No
Kentucky4No
Maryland3No
MassachusettsNo limit for most, 2 for someNo
Minnesota10 for commercial vehicles, 4 for othersNo
Mississippi8Yes
MissouriNo limitYes
Nebraska10No
Nevada18No
New HampshireNo limitYes
New Mexico24Yes
New York10 for commercial vehicles, 3 for others, 4 at service plazasYes
North DakotaNo limitYes
OhioNo limitYes
Oregon12Yes
Pennsylvania2 in most areas, 24 at service plazasYes
South Dakota10 for commercial vehicles, 3 for othersYes
Tennessee2No
Texas24No
UtahNo limitYes
VermontNo limitYes
Washington8Yes
Wisconsin24Yes
WyomingNo limitYes
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We should note that four states that don’t allow overnight parking at rest areas — Colorado, the Carolinas, and Virginia — seemingly have no other restrictions on resting drivers. However, that does not account for cities and municipalities.

City Ordinance Examples

California cities may have more restrictions than the state when it comes to sleeping in your car.

For example, a city like Los Angeles greatly restricts where people can sleep in their cars. It is hard to find a spot to do so legally in the city, and an August 2019 ordinance bans anyone from doing so in residential areas between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

San Diego passed a similar ordinance in the same year. That ordinance passed in March 2019, and it extended to the entire city.

Truck Stops

As the name suggests, truck stops are primarily for commercial trucks. However, some may allow you to stay there if there are spots available for truck drivers who need to rest. It’s best to ask the person or people who manage the truck stop if you can stay there for a time.

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How can sleeping in your car affect your insurance rates?

Should you be cited for illegal parking, it isn’t clear how sleeping in your car can affect your auto insurance rates. Your auto insurance company will likely increase your rates based on moving violations and their severity. However, if you are asleep in a parked car, you aren’t moving.

Insurance companies are always assessing risk, yet a citation for sleeping in your car doesn’t really speak to your risk as a driver. On the one hand, your decision to nap in your car instead of driving tired lowers your risk on the road. But by taking the time to sleep, you decrease the likelihood that you will cause a crash.

On the other hand, parking your car somewhere does not guarantee that you will not be involved in a collision or suffer any other car-related loss with full coverage auto insurance (which includes collision and comprehensive coverage). For example:

  • Another vehicle may hit your car while it is parked, causing damage.
  • A tree might fall onto your car, or an animal may bump into it.
  • A thief might break into your car while it is parked and you are sleeping.

In the first scenario, you might need to make a collision auto insurance claim. If you have comprehensive auto insurance, you might need to file a claim for the other two scenarios. You might also like to have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in the first scenario, as well.

How can you safely and legally sleep in your car?

To follow the law and remain relatively safe, here are a few tips if you need to pull over and sleep in your car:

  • Find out where local rest stops are and if there are time limits. Keep abreast of city ordinances, as well.
  • Park in well-light areas but do not have any valuables in plain sight. Thieves might want to break into your car if they see anything that appeals to them.
  • Rest in some retail parking lots. Stores like Walmart are known for allowing drivers to rest for a time. Still, do not linger too long.

Ultimately, it’s best to get a good night’s sleep when you can. That way, you will not be drowsy on the road or need to pull over and rest.

Is it illegal to sleep in your car with auto insurance? The Final Word

In general, it isn’t illegal to sleep in your car based on state law, but you will need to be aware of local ordinances and parking policies for various businesses.

In any event, it is a good idea to have auto insurance. According to the Insurance Information Institute, you must always show that you have financial responsibility while on the road to protect against damages and liability. To that end, you must always carry auto insurance if you own a car and use it regularly.

If you have car insurance, that means you are following the law. You will also have extra protection if someone or something causes damage to your car while you have it parked, even at a rest stop.

Now that you know that it is not illegal to sleep in your car with auto insurance, are you ready to find rates from top companies in your area? Just enter your ZIP code into our free quote tool below and get started.