If you’ve read the signs on the motorway urging you to take breaks when you’re feeling sleepy at the wheel, you’ll probably be aware that sleeping in your car is not a crime in itself. However, there is a right and a wrong way of doing it.
Is it illegal to sleep in your car?
Sleeping in your car in the UK is only technically illegal if you are under the influence of illicit drugs or alcohol or if you are parked illegally.
If you’re caught sleeping in a vehicle while intoxicated, you could be prosecuted just for being behind the wheel even if the keys aren’t in the ignition. If you’re prosecuted, potential penalties include up to 10 points on your licence, a disqualification from driving, a hefty fine and up to three months in prison depending on how serious the offence is.
Where can I legally sleep in my car in the UK?
- Car parks – although you should pay attention to the opening hours of the car park as not all of them allow overnight parking.
- Service stations – remember to check how long you’re allowed to stay there as many service stations have a 2-3 hour limit.
- On a street with no parking restrictions – i.e. in a residential area, provided that you are not parked within double yellow lines and aren’t blocking anyone’s drive.
- On private property – as long as you have the landowner’s permission to do so.
Tips for sleeping in your car
- Park in a safe, well-lit area.
- Make sure to lock the car doors from the inside so that no strangers can get into the vehicle and you don’t set off the alarm by accident while you’re asleep.
- If you’re in a car park or at a service station, it is best to park in an area where there are other vehicles.
- If you plan on napping for longer than a few minutes, it is advisable to switch off the ignition and the electronic components, such as the radio, AC and interior lights, to prevent the battery from going flat.
- Never leave the engine running. Take the keys out of the ignition and put them in a safe place that is out of sight such as inside the glove compartment.
- To avoid oversleeping, set an alarm on your phone or another mobile device.
- Resting in one of the passenger seats is normally more comfortable as you aren’t obstructed by the steering wheel or pedals.
- For long car journeys, it is a good idea to keep a couple of blankets and car travel neck pillows in the car in case you need to make a stop.
- If you’re comfortable doing so, crack open a window slightly for ventilation.
- Keep water and snacks on hand just in case.