Should It Be Legal to Sleep In Your Car?

Reddit users want to know why they're not allowed to sleep in their cars around the country. While sleeping in your car isn't fully illegal in the United States, it's a practice that does have some legal repercussions in certain towns.

"I don't understand why it's illegal in some places and under many [sic] circumstances to sleep in your car. Your car is your property and you should have the right to sleep in it without question. For any reason whatsoever," wrote u/DankMemeKing21.

They continued to outline reasons why someone may choose to sleep in their car, be it long term or just for one night. "It could be that you can't afford an apartment or you just decided not to drive home drunk and sleep in your car. Or any other damn reason. I understand if you park your car on someone's property illegally and try to sleep in it you should be forced to find another spot but sleeping in your car should be legal. It's property and no one should be telling me that I can't sleep in it."

Cars are prepared for distribution at a Ford factory on January 13, 2015 in Dagenham, England. Getty/Carl Court

Reddit users seemed to think the poster was right, and many seemed shocked that there is an issue with a person sleeping in their cars. "I never knew this was illegal in some places," admitted u/wormymcwormyworm. "Maybe if they're on private property like you said or it's a place where they can't be there at a certain time (no loitering/ tow away zones) or like no parking type of things then ya, can't stay there but if it's not that then what's the harms?"

Others shared their own experiences and said it seems to come down to sleeping on private property that matters. "I was sleeping in my car at a target once, cop woke me up and said to move across the street to a Walmart," said u/Kakkerlak. "I didn't know it was illegal, but more like a case of being on private property after business hours. No one ever bothered me while sleeping on a side street somewhere."

From the Reddit thread, it sounds like sleeping in your car won't get you arrested most places. Instead, it might give you an awkward run-in with the police, or security from an individual establishment, who just want you to move somewhere else.

Someone spoke from this perspective. "I used to do mobile security and one of the businesses we contracted to was a plaza that had a FreshCo Foods and a Canadian Tire and were tasked mainly to keep homeless people off the site at night but also to keep the parking lots cleared, including people sleeping in their car," explained u/Operative427. "We just asked them to go across the road to the Zehrs parking lot where they didn't give a damn."

This isn't necessarily a new conversation on Reddit. There's a whole subreddit called R/Vandwellers that talks about living in one's car, and how to do so effectively. One post gives the advice to never sleep in the same spot more than once in two weeks. You can read other tips here.