Should you fall asleep in your car in Massachusetts? It is not illegal per se, but there are nuances to the law that one needs to be aware of to avoid unwanted situations.
Can You Fall Asleep In Your Car In Massachusetts?
In the state of Massachusetts, there’s no law on the books that specifically outlaws sleeping in your car. Whether you’re on a road trip and need to catch some shut-eye or you’ve found yourself between accommodations, your vehicle can act as a makeshift bedroom.
However, where you decide to park and rest is essential. If you choose to park in a location that’s private property, you could run afoul of trespassing laws. Property owners have the right to control and regulate their property. So, even if you’re just catching a few Z’s and mean no harm, if you’re parked in an area that’s marked as private property or has signs like “No Trespassing” or “No Overnight Parking,” you could find yourself facing trespassing charges.
In other words, make sure that wherever you pull over, you are not on private property.
As much as you want to fall asleep in your car, there are a few things you should know first.
Rest Areas: A Safe Bet for Weary Travelers
For those unfamiliar with rest areas, they are designated places alongside highways that provide drivers and their passengers a place to rest, use restrooms, and stretch their legs. They are particularly useful for those on long journeys. There are a number of them throughout the state.
The good news for drowsy drivers in Massachusetts is that there are no laws or regulations prohibiting anyone from sleeping in their vehicle while parked at a rest area. In fact, the state expects drowsy drivers to use rest areas for sleeping. It’s always better to pull over and rest if you’re feeling fatigued than to risk driving while tired.
Rest stops will be a safe place to pull over and take a quick nap. Just make sure you’re in a safe space!
What If You’ve Had Too Much To Drink? Can You “Sleep It Off?”
Let’s say you’ve had a couple of drinks and want to take a cat nap. Think again! An individual can still be charged with an OUI (operating under influence) even if they’re not technically “driving.” In Massachusetts, if the car is parked, stopped, or even idling on a “public way” or a place where the public “has a right of access as invitees or licensees”, the individual is “operating” the vehicle and can be charged with OUI.
Doesn’t seem fair, but that’s the law.
You can still get arrested for “drunk sleeping.” Read why.
While it’s legal to sleep in your car at rest areas and public spaces that don’t have restrictions, always take safety precautions:
- Lock Your Doors: Whether at a rest area or another parking spot, always lock your doors when you’re inside.
- Stay Discreet: Use window shades or curtains to block out light and maintain privacy.
- Choose Well-Lit Areas: If possible, park in well-lit areas to deter potential threats.
- Be Aware of Surroundings: Before settling in for the night, scan the area and note any exit routes or nearby landmarks.
Next Time You Want To Catch Some Zzzz’s
In Massachusetts, the act of sleeping in your car isn’t illegal, but where you decide to do so makes all the difference. Always be mindful of signage, especially in areas that might be private property. Rest areas, on the other hand, serve as a safe haven for those needing a break from the road. As always, prioritize your safety and well-being, and when in doubt, it’s always a good idea to consult local regulations or seek advice from law enforcement officers in the area. Safe travels!
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