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Sleeping in Vehicles is Against the Law

Updated on July 9, 2013
Home is the car for some
Home is the car for some

One could state and take to court as discrimination against the poor or homeless and because of the sensitive issue, a judge may find a local ordinance unjust. After all, many of the homeless or poor who cannot afford a room or an apartment and cannot find shelter at a charity, use their last major possession, their car or van, as their home.

Yet, this becomes an issue when night falls, for some reason, and they park in a remote area or parking lot to pass the night. Many towns, cities, and counties have local regulations about sleeping in vehicles more than a few hours.

What is the purpose behind such laws? Are they to prevent vagrants from feeling secure and away from hostile weather? Are they a public hazard? Public eyesore? Are those sleeping in cars to seek refuge really going to pay the ticket cost? How effective are these laws? I mean, so the police find a homeless person sleeping in his car. Tell him to move on. He moves to another location to sleep. How do the police know they have been sleeping in the car for a few hours? What if he was not sleeping? What if it was daylight and not nightime, would this alter things? Are the police willing to make arrangements for those using their cars as homes to find a "valid" shelter? What about vans? Many have darkened windows so there is little way to see if it was occupied or not.

I would think police have WAY more important things to do than hassle those at their bottom. They must feel bad about enforcing these insensitive regulations that politicians create because of public safety or complaints.

In response, some of the homeless have filed lawsuits citing discrimination and being inhuman and have brought the issue to the attention of politicians and law enforcement. The regulations impose a fine of $100 with the first citation. Now, if a person is in such dire straits that their car is the refuge, do you really think they will pay $100?

Now, the kicker, at least in California, the Vehicle Code does not prohibit it, so how can local ordinances even be created and enforced by the police? What do the police actually do upon discovering someone sleeping in their car? They tell them to move or face getting the ticket. But, why? If a car is parked legally and not causing any issues whether or not it is the only one parked or not, why do the police even approach it? If the car is empty, they do nothing. If there is an occupant sleeping, why does this change anything? Seems like profiling.

Supported contend that the laws want to limit what they consider trespassing and loitering in neighborhoods. These are are not private, so there could be no trespass because it is open to all. Loitering can be construed as a sort of discrimination because supporters so not want a "certain" kind of people in their area.

The whole issue only takes on any sort of significance if it impacts you, as if, you are one of those most unfortunate people.


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    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Anthony Johnson 

      5 years ago from Peoria, Arizona

      If it were one or two doing it, no big deal. But that would not be the case if there were no law against it. We do not want the poor and homeless sprawled around the city. We also know that it is wrong to reject the poor and kick them out of the city. We have to make plans to help the families in this situation without still their kids away just because they are poor.

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      well, your example is extreme. I doubt if a large size parking lot would be totally filled with homeless in their cars, but, I do understand the fear. I can understand more if it was a case of being in front of your home or street. But large mall like lots, not so much.

    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Anthony Johnson 

      5 years ago from Peoria, Arizona

      I do not agree with your position per se but I am supportive of the situation being made aware. I voted it up for content that was informative. You did not give the other side of the issue a good chance in this. If we let people park all over our cities without consequence we would have malls and supermarkets full of these people. We have to recognize the human element of both sides. How would you feel if you went to park to get groceries and you could not because the lot was filled with the homeless permanently.


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