Is It illegal to Sleep In Your Car in The UK?

Last updated by on November 8th, 2022 and verified by The Parkers Team

Anyone who’s driven on the motorway before will have noticed the signs urging you to take a break if you’re tired.

There’s good reason for that with one in five serious accidents in the UK caused by someone falling asleep at the wheel. As a result, you might think you’re doing the right thing by pulling over and catching 40 winks to recharge your batteries – but is it legal to sleep in your car?

Can you sleep in your car?

The short answer is yes, you can sleep in your car, but where you choose to pull over to sleep and the reasons for doing so determine whether it’s legal to do so or not.

When is it legal to sleep in your car?

You can sleep in your car if you:

– Are not under the influence of drink or drugs
– Are legally parked in a safe location that does not cause a hazard for other road users

So if you’re on a motorway and pull into a service station or a legal rest area, you can sleep in your car. Likewise, parking on a street or car park and sleeping is legal however you need to be aware of any restrictions. For example, most service stations will fine you if you park for longer than two hours. Similarly car parks can close their gates, so make sure you’re not going to get locked in.

It’s also important to stay safe when you’re sleeping in your car. Make sure your doors are locked and you’re in a safe area.

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When is it illegal to sleep in your car?

It is illegal to sleep in your car if you:

– Are under the influence of drink or drugs
– Are parked illegally

It may seem like a sensible idea to sleep in your car if there’s no other way to get home after a night of heavy drinking but it’s illegal and you can be prosecuted for being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle.

Remember – it doesn’t matter if the keys are out of the ignition and you’re sat in the backseat, you could face a fine and a maximum of ten penalty points.

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How to sleep in your car if you have to

If sleeping in your car is the only option, then be warned, it’s not comfortable. In fact it’s about as close to sleeping in an airplane as you get without being 30,000-feet in the air. However, if you really have no other option, here’s our advice:

– Park somewhere legal and safe

The most important tip is to park legally and to do so somewhere safe.

– Keep your car locked

Make sure your car is locked from the inside.

– Think about ventilation

Your car will get stuffy so it’s important there’s some airflow. Crack a window slightly.

– Keep your car well stocked

Get bottles of water, a torch and a blanket to keep you warm. If you’re feeling a little extra, why not consider purchasing an inflatable car mattress, just in case? You never know when it might come in handy and they can be surprisingly affordable.

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