Is it illegal to sleep in your car in California – No, Maybe?


If you are planning a road trip to California state and considering sleeping in your car at night to cut the hotel cost, it’s better first to check out if is it illegal to sleep in your car in California. While the idea might sound great to see the beautiful state on a budget, your trip can get ruined if you suddenly find out that it doesn’t allow that.

But, worry no more. Just go through this guide before planning your trip and you will learn everything regarding the loitering laws in California. It’s better to know the ins and outs of a place so that you can plan your trip accordingly.

Without any further delay, let’s find out whether California state allows this act or not.

Is it Illegal to sleep in your Car?

Well, sleeping in your car on the side of a road is illegal in some states and countries, however, there are ways to get away with it.

That being said, it’s not illegal to sleep in your car if you are taking a short nap on the side of a city street. In fact, you won’t find any state or federal regulations banning that act.

The laws related to sleeping in a car overnight depend from state to state. For instance, some places in states don’t clearly prohibit car sleeping, though, they do impose some time limitations on their parking lot timings and how long one can park their car in their parking area. Additionally. Some places or streets explicitly put car sleeping signboards in their parking lots.

If you plan to visit California state, it’s better to check out what their local state laws say about car sleeping and then decide if you still want to take a chance.

Also, if you are considering the rest stops options, you should know that they are not often free for everyone. However, they may allow you to catch a short nap.

Read Also: How to Start a Parking Lot Business in California

Is it Illegal to sleep in your Car in California?

Below are the California state laws on whether is it illegal or not to sleep in your car

  1. Berkeley, California:

Berkeley, California, explicitly bans RV car parking overnight. Specifically, between hours 2:00 am to 5:00 am. People doing so will be charged with a penalty/ticket or will lose their vehicle to the state’s law enforcement officials.

  1. Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles doesn’t allow anyone to sleep in their car, especially on residential streets between 9:00 pm to 6:00 am. However, you can park your vehicle in a rest area to sleep in your car.

  1. San Francisco:

In comparison to other cities, San Francisco is quite strict with its car sleeping laws. An individual cannot sleep in his/her car between 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. You will be charged with a $1,000 penalty if you get caught. However, most individuals said never to have experienced that.

Generally, car sleeping prohibition laws are put in place to reduce homelessness or loitering in a state.

Do you have to crack a window to sleep in your car?

No, you do not have to do that. The air inside a car is enough to keep you alive for a long time. However, you can crack one of your car windows for better air circulation if two or more people are in the car.

Where is it illegal to sleep in your car?

You can sleep in your car in any state, depending on the level of risk you are willing to take.

Many individuals have shared their stories of sleeping in their cars in Bellingham, San Francisco, Portland, Los Angeles and many other major states without getting caught. Is that even possible? Well, if you can, stay super stealthy and follow parking signs and restrictions.

For instance, arrive late and leave early, keep your vehicle clean while it’s parked, and don’t put up white shades. Use black ones instead that could blend into the background and look natural.


So the answer to ‘is it illegal to sleep in your car in California’ is yes. While the city may not explicitly allow the act, you can sleep almost anywhere in every state (except private properties) if you can be stealthy. All you need to do is be careful and discreet.


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