Is this seemingly innocent act against New Jersey law?

When driving, it's important to be awake and alert.  But sometimes, life forces us to be on the road at ungodly hours.  If you're midway through a road trip and find your eyes starting to droop behind the wheel, you'd argue that the safest thing to do would be to pull over at a rest stop and catch some quick z's, right?

sleepy tired fatigued man driving car in traffic
SIphotography via Getty Stock/ThinkStock

And what about those stuck in the unfortunate situation of being forced to sleep in their vehicle due to housing issues?  Surely, they should be allowed to sleep in their car.

But, is this sometimes necessary act legal?  Some states and cities within the US have different laws when it comes to sleeping in your vehicle.  You might be wondering what would make it so controversial.

According to Insurance Navy, it doesn't have anything to do with traffic laws and regulations.  The issue lies within property laws, which makes sense.  For example, if you pull over on a street, it's considered private property, and that would be an issue.  It can also be confusing to discern whether or not parking lots are public or private property.

All that being said, is it legal to sleep in your car in New Jersey?

Yes, and no.  As you might have guessed, there are some circumstances where this is okay, and others where it's illegal.

Per Get Jerry, if a rest stop permits you to park in their lot for multiple hours, then yes, it's legal to sleep in your car there.  However, make sure you do your research on this before staying there since all rest stops don't permit it.  The website also mentions that most Walmart stores allow people to stay in their lots.

Photo by Steven Weeks on Unsplash
Photo by Steven Weeks on Unsplash

Things get hairier if you're intoxicated and want to sleep in your car to avoid getting behind the wheel.  According to NJ DWI Legal, the state's DWI laws apply to anyone who is operating a vehicle under the influence, and the term "operate" doesn't have a firm definition.  It's best to avoid this situation altogether and find an alternate way to get home.

So, the next time you find yourself sleepy behind the wheel, do your research before pulling over to get some shut-eye!

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