Is It Legal To Sleep In Your Car in Missouri and Illinois?
You've worked a full week, and now you're about to set off on a several-hour journey to enjoy a long weekend away from home. A few hours in and even truck stop coffee isn't working for you. So, is it legal to sleep in your car in Missouri and Illinois?
First, multiple online sources told me that there's no federal law that prohibits sleeping in your car. Unless, according to the Road Trip Expert website, you're drunk, sleeping in your car on private property without permission of the owner, or falling asleep while driving.
As far as the State of Missouri is concerned you can sleep in your vehicle at any time at any of Missouri's rest areas for up to 24 hours according to the Smart Financial website. The Sleep Insider website also says there is no state law prohibiting sleeping in your car.
That said many municipalities and big cities do have ordinances that prohibit sleeping in your car, so it's best to check local laws before deciding to sack out. One more thing, sleeping in your car isn't a good idea if you're trying to sleep off drinking a little too much because Missouri law enforcement can arrest you for that.
In Illinois, you can sleep up to three hours day or night at Illinois rest stops. Not to mention, law enforcement will let you sleep longer for safety reasons if you need it. The Smart Financial website mentions that Chicago and other larger cities have stricter parking laws, so once again you need to check local ordinances. Like Missouri, you can be arrested for sleeping in your car while drunk. So that seems to be a bad idea all around.
The Road Trip Expert website reiterates that a lot of state laws around sleeping in your car revolve around rest stops and welcome centers and regulate how long you can rest there. Like the other sites I mention, they reiterate that many cities, towns, and municipalities have their own ordinances against it. A lot of these ordinances have to do with the homelessness problem that cities and towns are dealing with.
Road Trip Expert says some good places to sleep in your car legally include the Bureau of Land Management public land, public establishments like hotels and casinos with public parking lots (with permission), or a friend or family member's driveway or yard with permission.
Walmart parking lots also popped up as a good legal parking spot to sleep according to multiple sources. That's generally true, although overnight parking is left to the discretion of the store manager, and some cities have ordinances that prohibit Walmart from allowing that according to Road Trip Expert. Their website contained a helpful link to All Stays, a website that's a compilation of lists and maps handy for travelers. Their list of Walmart stores contains some intel on people's parking experiences at Walmart Stores.
So what's the takeaway from all of this? You can legally sleep in your car in Missouri and Illinois, especially at rest stops. Yet, when you get into cities and towns, they may have their own ordinances prohibiting it. So if you're planning on sleeping in your car it's best to stick to the places where you know there's a good chance you're not violating an ordinance. Also, never sleep off being intoxicated in your car. Alcohol and vehicles don't mix, even if your intent is to sleep it off, and most police officers just won't take that chance in the name of public safety.