Is It Really Illegal to Sleep in Your Car in New York State?
Have you ever asked yourself the question, "Is it legal for me to sleep in my car in New York State?" Do you think a cop will write you a ticket if they find you asleep in your car?
While there are certain areas that do not allow people to loiter in a particular area, let's cover the basics. Have you ever slept in your car? Everything from car camping, to being so tired you had to pull over so you wouldn't fall asleep at the wheel, and then there is 'you had too many drinks' and just wanted to sleep it off in your car.
What about you not having a place to live, sleeping in your car?
So, is it illegal to sleep in your car in New York State?
The answer to this question is yes, but. In cases where you need to pull over to take a nap because you are traveling, you are (for instance) limited to 4-hours at any of the service areas on the New York State Thruway. If you want to sleep in any of the parking lots of a Walmart, you can do so easily, and it is not considered loitering. This is one of those unwritten rules (that everyone should know just in case) you can park (and sleep) in your car, RV or camper in most Walmarts in the United States.
Does this work with other big box retailers? No, while you might be able to sleep in your car, in say a mall parking lot, you can do this while the mall is open, but not when the mall is closed.
Can you sleep in your car while you are intoxicated in New York State? Is that legal?
It does get a little gray here. New York State law says that you cannot operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, NYS VAT, Title 7, Article 31. If you are intoxicated in the car, but not operating it, what does that mean? Here is the gray area, where are your keys? Are you sleeping in the back seat or the driver's seat? Are the keys in the ignition? While there is no law saying you can't sleep in your car, if you are intoxicated, you might want to be in the backseat and not have your keys even in the car.
What about if you are homeless and are sleeping in your car in New York State?
There is no law against this. You will need to keep up the registration on your car, and the annual inspection, because you will need to periodically move your car. While it is not illegal to live in your car, where you park the car and for how long is where you can start to get into a legal gray area.
Keep reading to see what it looks like to sleep in a multi-million-dollar place that celebrities have also overnighted in: