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I want to plan an ultimate road trip to every state in the US. I am faced with researching each state for their laws regarding sleeping in owned vehicles. Is there an easier way to gain this information?

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    It is not just a matter of "each state". This is the sort of thing for which many counties and cities have their own rules. – Patricia Shanahan Jul 23 '16 at 15:53
  • Thanks Patricia, I did a bit of digging online and have found that many small cities and towns are now citing people that sleep in their vehicle! It seems that I would need to be creative in my reason as to why I am sleeping in my car while traveling the country. Thanks for you response! – ALnG Jul 23 '16 at 16:03
  • As mentioned in my answer, yes, they are. However, as Tom pointed out, campgrounds and places outside of cities/towns don't generally have that problem. – WGroleau Jul 24 '16 at 6:52
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Rules regarding sleeping in a car in a city will be defined by that city. Rules regarding sleeping in a car outside the city will be defined by either the county or state or both.

As a general rule of thumb you will find very few cities that allow sleeping in a car on the streets. People get away with it by parking in less public spots, alleys, behind shops, etc. But the downside is that safety can be a concern in bigger cities in these out of view places.

Outside the cities many highway rest stops and pull offs allow you to sleep for a while, but patrolling officers may pay you a visit if they see you for long periods of time (8+ hours). You will often see truckers pull in for a few hours nap.

Most campgrounds have no rules against sleeping in your car, so small towns with public camp grounds will be an option. Commercial camps, government camps in forests, national or state parks, etc also are usually OK with you sleeping in your car (but cost money which seems like might be a factor for you).

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Many cities and counties are passing laws designed to solve the homeless problem by motivating the homeless to leave the area. One of the methods has been to make it illegal to sleep in cars or other places.

It is my opinion (and usually the courts agree) that these laws violate the homeless person's constitutional rights. However, that doesn't stop the local "authorities" from making it necessary for you to go to court. And, in court, the fact that you are not homeless may make many of the rulings inapplicable.

Thus, Tom's advice to look for places away from cities is the easy way out. But if you are interested in reading about some of these laws and challenges, here are some links:

  • So are you asserting that the US Constitution gives you the right to sleep wherever you want? – user13044 Jul 23 '16 at 19:50
  • @Tom Being arrested for sleeping in an otherwise legally parked car seems an unreasonable seizure to me, so violation of 4th amendment rights. – TemplateRex Jul 23 '16 at 21:39
  • @Tom: I have not read all (not even half) of those cases. But the ones I did read basically said that the constitution does not allow prohibiting sleeping. And any law that requires you to sleep somewhere that doesn't exist (your home) or puts an unreasonable restriction on it (get out of town). But, as I said, if you have a home or the ability to get out of town, those cases may not help you. That's why I endorsed your advice. (And if you are homeless, it's hard to sue the city/county.) – WGroleau Jul 24 '16 at 1:25

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