The Legality of Car Sleeping in Vermont: What You Need to Know

Vermont, with its breathtaking landscapes, charming towns, and abundance of outdoor activities, is a perennial favorite for road trips. From the rolling hills and covered bridges of central Vermont to the majestic peaks of the Green Mountains and the shores of Lake Champlain, the state offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a leaf-peeping enthusiast drawn to the vibrant fall foliage, a skier carving fresh powder on the slopes of Killington, or a cyclist enjoying the scenic byways, Vermont promises an unforgettable adventure.

The Rise of Car Sleeping and the Legal Landscape

However, with the rising popularity of road trips comes the question of affordability. Accommodation costs can quickly add up, especially during peak season. This has led to a surge in car sleeping, where travelers utilize their vehicles for overnight stays. But is it legal to sleep in your car in Vermont?

The answer, like in many states, isn’t a simple yes or no. This blog article will delve into the legal landscape of car sleeping in Vermont, offering insights into local regulations, safety tips, and alternative options for budget-conscious travelers.

The Legality of Car Sleeping in Vermont: What You Need to Know will equip you with the knowledge to plan your Vermont adventure responsibly and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Sleeping in Your Car in Vermont: The Current Laws

No Statewide Law on Car Sleeping

Unlike some states with specific laws prohibiting or permitting car sleeping, Vermont does not have a statewide statute addressing the issue. This means the legality can vary depending on the location.

Importance of Local Ordinances

The absence of a statewide law puts the onus on local municipalities to enact their own ordinances regarding car sleeping. Cities, towns, and even private parking lots may have regulations on overnight parking and car camping.

Examples of Local Regulations in Vermont Cities

Here’s a glimpse into how some Vermont cities handle car sleeping:

  • Burlington: Burlington, Vermont’s largest city, prohibits parking on streets between 1 am and 6 am. However, there are designated areas where overnight parking is allowed, with some restrictions on vehicle size and duration. It’s crucial to check signage for specific regulations.
  • Montpelier: Montpelier, the state capital, has similar restrictions on overnight parking on streets. However, designated parking garages may allow overnight stays for a fee.
  • Rutland: Rutland’s city ordinances don’t explicitly address car sleeping. However, overnight parking restrictions on streets might apply.

Pro Tip: Before setting out on your Vermont road trip, research the specific regulations of the towns and cities you plan to visit. Many municipalities have websites where you can access parking ordinances or contact local authorities for clarification.

When Can Sleeping in Your Car Become Illegal in Vermont?

Even in the absence of a specific law against car sleeping, there are situations where it can become illegal in Vermont. Here are some key points to remember:

Public vs. Private Property

Sleeping in your car on public property like streets or parking lots might be subject to local parking regulations. However, attempting to sleep on private property without permission is considered trespassing and can lead to legal repercussions.

Intoxication and Public Intoxication Laws

Vermont, like most states, has strict laws against driving under the influence (DUI). If you’re found sleeping in a car while intoxicated in a public space, you could be charged with DUI or public intoxication, even if the car isn’t running.

Blocking Traffic or Driveways

Parking your car in a way that obstructs traffic or blocks driveways is illegal and can lead to a fine or towing. Be mindful of where you park to avoid any inconvenience or safety hazards.

Disorderly Conduct

Sleeping in your car shouldn’t disrupt the peace or engage in activities that could be considered disorderly conduct. This includes loud noises, littering, or public urination.

Safety Tips for Sleeping in Your Car in Vermont

Even if car sleeping falls within legal boundaries in your chosen location, safety remains paramount. Here are some tips to ensure a secure and comfortable night’s rest:

Choosing a Safe Location

  • Well-lit areas: Opt for parking lots or streets with good lighting. This deters potential crime and improves visibility for yourself and others.
  • Avoid secluded areas: Steer clear of isolated parking lots or deserted streets, especially at night. Choose locations with some foot traffic or near police stations or well-maintained businesses.
  • Consider campgrounds: If safety is a major concern, consider designated campgrounds with amenities like restrooms and security personnel.

Vehicle Security Measures

  • Lock your car: This seems obvious, but it’s crucial to ensure all doors and windows are securely locked before sleeping.
  • Valuables out of sight: Don’t leave valuables like wallets, electronics, or important documents in plain view. Store them in the trunk or a locked glove compartment.
  • Window coverings: Consider using curtains or blinds on windows for privacy and a sense of security.

Making Yourself Comfortable

  • Comfortable seating: Adjust your seats or use sleeping bags and pillows to create a comfortable sleeping surface.
  • Fresh air: Crack the windows slightly for ventilation, especially during colder months. However, ensure they’re not open enough for someone to reach in.
  • Bedding: Pack blankets or a sleeping bag suitable for the Vermont climate, which can vary significantly depending on the season.

Being Prepared for the Elements

  • Dress appropriately: Vermont’s weather can be unpredictable. Dress in layers to adjust to changing temperatures.
  • Sun protection: Even during cooler months, consider window shades or tinting to block out the morning sun.
  • Emergency kit: Pack a basic emergency kit with essentials like a flashlight, first-aid supplies, a non-perishable snack, and a bottle of water.

Alternatives to Car Sleeping in Vermont

While car sleeping can be a budget-friendly option, it’s not for everyone. Here are some alternatives to consider for your Vermont adventure:


Vermont boasts numerous campgrounds offering a range of amenities from basic campsites to more developed ones with showers, restrooms, and laundry facilities. State parks often have campgrounds with scenic locations and reasonable rates.

State Parks

Vermont State Parks offer a variety of camping options, from rustic tent sites to furnished cabins. Spending a night amidst the natural beauty of Vermont’s state parks can be a truly enriching experience. Reservations are recommended, especially during peak season.

Budget-Friendly Motels

Several budget-friendly motels cater to travelers on a tight budget. While not as luxurious as high-end hotels, they provide basic amenities like a bed, shower, and sometimes breakfast, offering a more comfortable alternative to car sleeping.

Conclusion: Planning Your Vermont Adventure Responsibly

Vermont, with its stunning landscapes and small-town charm, is a perfect destination for a memorable road trip. By understanding the legalities of car sleeping in Vermont and considering the safety tips outlined above, you can ensure a secure and enjoyable experience.

Planning in Advance:

  • Research local ordinances in the towns you plan to visit.
  • Consider alternative options like campgrounds, state parks, or budget-friendly motels if car sleeping isn’t your preferred choice.

Always prioritize safety:

  • Choose well-lit and populated locations for car sleeping.
  • Secure your vehicle and valuables.
  • Be prepared for changing weather conditions.

With responsible planning and an awareness of local regulations, you can make the most of your Vermont adventure, creating lasting memories while exploring this beautiful state.

Happy and Safe Travels!

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MBS Staff
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