With new rules on driver tiredness set to come into play at the end of the month you might be wondering if taking a catnap in your car is an option. We’ve put together this article to help explain when you can and should sleep in your car and when you shouldn’t.


In general, it is not illegal for you to sleep in your car, provided you are parked in an appropriate safe location but there are some circumstances where you should not sleep in your vehicle.

Sleeping it Off in the Car

If you have been drinking or taken any illicit drugs then you should not sleep in your car at all as if caught you could face prosecution for being intoxicated in charge of a motor vehicle. Being found guilty of this charge results in a large fine and up to 10 points on your driving licence.

Even if you are not behind the wheel and are sleeping in one of the passenger seats without your keys near you then you can still be prosecuted, and this applies to all parked vehicles including those parked on private land.

Parking to Sleep

You should make sure that if you are parking and need to rest on a long journey that you do so in a safe location where you are not a potential hazard to other road users.

Safe locations include:

  • Service stations
  • Legal roadside rest areas
  • A street without parking restrictions in a spot you do not obstruct traffic
  • A carpark
  • A private drive (with the owner’s permission)
  • Private land (with the owner’s permission)

Please note that there may be some restrictions in place for these locations. For example, most car parks have a time limit on the free parking you can have and you might face a fine from their management company if you do not pay the fee.


We generally advise avoiding sleeping in your vehicle where possible but know there are some situations and long journeys where it is unavoidable so we’ve put together some handy tips to keep you and your vehicle safe.

Ten Recommendations for Sleeping in a Car

1. Park in a safe, legal location.

2. Where possible park in a well-lit area where you can see what’s around the vehicle, especially if parking at night.

3. If you can park in an area with other vehicles, such as a service station, so that you are not in an isolated location.

4. Ensure the vehicle is locked from the inside so you are secure and don’t set off the alarm when you move.

5. If you feel comfortable to, and the weather permits, leave the window open a crack to allow some airflow through the vehicle.

6. Turn the ignition off and make sure that the vehicle is not using any ancillary features such as the radio or air conditioning which might run the battery flat.

7. Take the keys out of the engine and put them in a safe location out of sight. Avoid putting them in a pocket or somewhere that you might stab yourself with them if you move in your sleep

8. If you’re able to stretch out in one of the passenger seats then do so to avoid any pain from awkward positioning around the steering wheel.

9. Set an alarm for the time that you want to wake up, this can be based on how long you want to sleep for or how long you are allowed to stay in the location.

10. You could keep a small blanket in the boot for if you need to take a rest break and use this for any naps you need. You might also want to keep a bottle of water, snack and torch as well for when you wake up.   

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