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Is It Legal to Sleep in Your Car in New Jersey? When is It Acceptable and When is It Not?

Even infants are capable of it. It’s common among teens. Even adults are capable of doing so, at least while riding as passengers.

One can easily fall asleep during a lengthy vehicle trip.

Obviously, if a driver nods off at the wheel and causes an accident, they will face consequences.

But what if a driver stops at a rest stop or a parking lot and decides to nap?

A blog post by the Law Offices of John J. Zarych in Atlantic City asserts that sleeping in a car alone is not illegal.

Still, there are apparent instances worth mentioning.

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According to the Zarych blog, if you fall asleep at the wheel in New Jersey, you could be charged with “tired driving,” but the law firm claims that in most situations, police in the Garden State consider this to be dangerous or careless driving.

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When someone else is hurt or killed as a result of your actions, you could face charges ranging from endangerment to first-degree murder by vehicle.

Additionally, New Jersey has had “Maggie’s Law” on the books for 20 years, which defines “knowingly fatigued” driving as driving with 24 hours or more of sleep or wakefulness before an accident.

How About Trying to “Sleep It Off”?

Legal services providers all around Garden State agree that the definition of “driving” a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is extremely broad in New Jersey law.

Zarych suggested that simply leaving the engine running while intoxicated and tired could be grounds for a DWI arrest, even if the vehicle was not moving.

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Moreover, it need not be quite so clear. According to the law firm, previous convictions in which a car was not running but the keys were in the ignition while the driver slept were upheld by the state Supreme Court.

In other situations, a driver has been convicted of a crime just because they fell asleep at the wheel while their keys were within reach.

So, it is legally permissible to stop a car in New Jersey and nod off… but what seems to actually matter is what the driver did right before falling asleep.

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