Is It Legal To Live In Your Car – Know The Laws

Live In Car Know The Laws

Living in a car might not be a common sight but for many Americans, their vehicle/car becomes a permanent living space when they are away from home. Living in a car is convenient but it also has problems like taking bath, shower, or how you can manage human wastes. Moreover, you have to consider the laws of different states when it comes to living in a car.

Whether it’s legal to live in a car depends on what state you live in or what state you are planning to visit with your car. Different states have different laws regarding living in a car. Some states will allow you to live in a car but you have to follow the parking rules like you might not be allowed to park on city main streets, the highway, public property, etc. However, there are places which are open for overnight visitors to stay in their car.

Living In A Car Law By States

There are no nationwide laws available in the USA about living in a car. However, every state has its own laws about sleeping in the car. So the best solution would be to find designated overnight parking areas ahead of time. Below you will find state-by-state laws regarding living in a car.

StateOvernight Parking At Rest StopsSleeping In Car Laws
AlabamaNot allowedNo parking on highwaysYou can be arrested for having control of a vehicle while intoxicated, even if the car isn’t moving.It’s banned in some cities like Fairhope
AlaskaNothing specifiedParking and sleeping in car laws vary by cityYou may not be allowed to park on public property not marked as the official parkingIn Anchorage, you cannot park on a street, public parking space, or public way for over 24 hours, except from Friday noon to Monday noon.
ArizonaAllowed, but no camping outside the carSome cities like Phoenix ban camping, including car campingYou can be arrested for having control of your vehicle while intoxicated.
ArkansasAllowed for safety purposes only, no campingParking laws vary by city. In general, obey street parking signs and time limits.
California8-hour limit at rest stops, no overnight parking or campingMany cities ban sleeping in cars in undesignated areasYou may find designated overnight parking lotsNo parking on freeways, except for emergencies
ColoradoNot allowedThere are designated overnight parking areas in the state.You can be arrested for having control of your vehicle while intoxicated.You can’t park on controlled-access highways.
ConnecticutNot allowedParking laws vary by citySome cities prohibit overnight parking on city streets between certain hours
Delaware4-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or campingParking laws vary by city
Florida3-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or campingHighway shoulders are reserved for emergency vehiclesSome cities or counties ban sleeping in cars entirely, including The KeysYou can be arrested for having control of your car while intoxicated, even if it’s not moving.
GeorgiaNot allowedHighway shoulders are reserved for emergency vehicles.Make sure you’re not violating city or county parking laws or signs.
HawaiiNot allowedYou can’t sleep or live in your vehicle on any public roadway between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.You can’t use private property without the owner’s consent.
IdahoAllowed with a 10-hour limit, no camping outside the vehicleNo specific laws
Illinois3-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or campingNo specific laws
IndianaNot allowedNo specific laws
LowaAllowed for one night under special circumstances, such as emergencies, no camping outside the vehicleNo specific laws
KansasAllowed for one night only, no camping outside the vehicleNo specific laws
Kentucky4-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or campingNo specific laws
LouisianaNot allowedNo specific laws
MaineNot allowedNo specific laws
Maryland3-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or campingNo specific laws
MassachusettsNot allowedNo specific laws
Michigan4-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or campingNo specific laws
Minnesota4-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or campingNo specific laws
MississippiAllowed, but no camping outside the vehicleNo specific laws
MissouriAllowed, but no camping outside the vehicleNo specific laws
MontanaAllowed, but no camping outside the vehicleNo specific laws
Nebraska10-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or campingNo specific laws
NevadaAllowed with a 24-hour limit, camping allowedNo specific laws
New Hampshire4-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or campingNo specific laws
New JerseyOvernight parking may be available in some areas, no campingNo specific laws
New MexicoAllowed with a 24-hour limit, no campingNo specific laws
New York3-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or campingNo specific laws
North Carolina4-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or campingNo specific laws
North DakotaAllowed, but no campingNo specific laws
Ohio3-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or campingRVs are allowed overnight parking along with some areas of the Turnpike.
OklahomaAllowed, but no campingNo specific laws
OregonAllowed with a 12-hour limit, no camping outside the vehicleNo specific laws
Pennsylvania2-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or campingNo specific laws
Rhode IslandAllowed, but no campingNo specific laws
South CarolinaNot allowedNo specific laws
South Dakota4-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or campingNo specific laws
Tennessee2-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or campingNo specific laws
TexasAllowed with a 24-hour limit, no camping outside the vehicleNo specific laws
UtahNot allowed overnight, extended stays are allowed at the police’s discretionNo specific laws
VermontNot allowedNo specific laws
VirginiaNot allowedNo specific laws
WashingtonAllowed with an 8-hour limit, no camping outside the vehicleNo specific laws
West VirginiaAllowed, but no campingNo specific laws
WisconsinNot allowedNo specific laws
WyomingSleeping in vehicles is allowed for those who need rest to drive safely, no camping outside the vehicle or extended staysNo specific laws

Essential Car Living/Sleeping Kits

If you want to live or sleep in your car comfortably then you must have some common car living kits in your car. So if you are wondering what items you should carry with you then the below list will help you sort things out! Let’s check them.

Clothes & Sleeping Gear

When you are living in a car, chances are you will be caring for all the required clothes. As a general rule, you should have a change of clothing for every night while you are staying in a car. So you should carry – 

1. An extra pair of socks

2. An extra pair of shoes

3. A beanie

4. Pillow

5. Sleeping bag

6. Extra blanket

7. Blow-up mattress

Toiletries

If you want to keep fresh when you are living in a car then you should carry some toiletries with you. You might not carry many things because it might get stuffy inside the car so you should carry toiletries like – 

1. Dry shampoo

2. Wet wipes

3. Roll-on deodorant

4. Toilet paper

5. Hand sanitizer

Electronics

Nowadays electronics play a very vital role in our life and it helps us stay connected with others. When you are living in a car you will be using electronic devices like GPS, music players, mobile chargers, etc. So important electronic devices are – 

1. Car phone charger

2. Power bank 

3. Wi-Fi router (if necessary)

4. Flashlight 

5. Bed phones

First AID

This is a very important car living kit because you don’t know what you might encounter while you are living in a car. So consider caring a first AID box that includes – 

1. Band-aids and bandages in a variety of sizes

2. Disinfectant

3. Antiseptic ointment

4. A burn care product

5. Throat lozenges

6. Painkillers (preferably not aspirin)

7. Anti-nausea medication

8. Anti-diarrhea medication

9. Antihistamines

10. Rehydration sachets with electrolytes  

FAQs About Living In A Car

1. What Are The Safest Places To Stay Overnight In A Car?

There are quite a few places where you can park overnight and safely stay in your car. Some of the places are – 

1. Walmart
2. Casinos
3. Rest Stops
4. Welcome Information Center’s
5. BLM Land
6. Grocery Stores
7. Shopping Malls
8. Fast Food Outlets
9. Parking Lots
10. City Street Parking

2. Is It Legal To Sleep In A Walmart Parking Lot?

Walmart has no problem with people sleeping in Walmart car parking. But before you decide to sleep in Walmart’s parking lot you have to check the law of that state. Many states allow sleeping in a parking lot while there are other states that don’t allow sleeping in a parking lot.

3. Can You Sleep In McDonald’s Parking Lot?

No, you can’t sleep in McDonald’s parking lot because it is private property and they don’t allow anybody to sleep in their parking lot.

4. When Is It Illegal To Sleep In Your Car?

If you are in a city or state where sleeping in a car is illegal then you can’t sleep in your car. If you are allowed to sleep in your car then you have to consider the parking lot laws of that city or state. There are many states that allow you to sleep in your car but don’t allow you to sleep in the parking lot. In this type of situation, you have to find another place to park your car and sleep in it.

5. Where Is It Legal To Sleep In Your Car?

There are many places where you can sleep in your car legally. Some of the places are – 

1. Rest areas
2. Campgrounds
3. 24-hour retailers
4. Private property with permission
5. Truckstops
6. Your own private property        

                 

Last Updated on June 9, 2021 by Musa D

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