Can You Be Towed While Sleeping In Your Car? Nope!

Imagine, you’re taking a power nap in your car, only to wake up and get woken up to see your vehicle being hooked up to a tow truck. 

Is that even legal? Can you be towed while sleeping in your car? The answer to the former is yes. However, the answer to the latter question is different. 

It’s not legal to have a passenger in a towed car in any situation, except for extreme emergencies. 

In this post, I’ll tell you more details about what happens in such a scenario and what you can do. Let’s get started – it’s not as scary as it seems. 

Is It Necessary To Be Present With Your Vehicle To Have It Towed?

You might be wondering if you need to stick around while your vehicle gets towed. 

Well, the good news is that you don’t have to be physically present with your wheels during the towing process. 

The law doesn’t require you to be present physically when your vehicle is being towed and the tow truck pros know how to handle things without you standing by.

Can You Be Towed While Sleeping In Your Car?

Picture this: you’re out car camping or on a road trip and decide to catch some Zs in your vehicle. 

But can you be towed while you’re snoozing away? That’s a mini heart attack just waiting to happen – in some places at least. 

It all depends on local laws and the specific situation you’re in.

In many places, it’s illegal to park and doze off in certain areas, like public streets where overnight parking is a no-no. 

So, if you park your ride in a restricted zone, there’s a chance it could get towed, whether you’re snoring inside or not. 

Towing companies keep an eye on parking lots and streets to nab vehicles that break the parking rules, even if there are sleepyheads on board. 

You’ll probably be woken up, though, and then have your vehicle towed away.

If you end up being dragged along with your vehicle while you’re inside it, you can sue the towing company for it. 

What To Do If Your Car Is Towed While You Are Sleeping In It

Imagine waking up to the nightmare of your car being towed while you were catching some Z’s inside. 

It’s a disorienting and stressful situation, but here are some steps to tackle the problem:

  • Stay Cool: 

Keep your cool and stay level-headed. It’ll help you make smart decisions and handle things effectively.

  • Come Down:

Doing this might take a slight effort. You’ll need to get the attention of the driver first if they’ve started driving with your car in tow. 

Open the window and try to catch their attention. If the road’s too bumpy for movement to be safe, try honking your car instead. 

If you’re in the front seat, that is. Otherwise, you can try to hold tight and wait it out or call the cops. 

  • Gather Info: 

Note down the towing company’s name, contact details, and where they’ve taken your vehicle, like an impound lot.

  • Get In Touch: 

Reach out to the towing company ASAP and find out what you need to do to get your car back. Ask about any fees or paperwork required for the release.

  • Get Them To Pay You: 

You’re not supposed to be towed inside a car outside of extreme situations. 

So, if you find yourself in such a situation, you’re straight up getting kidnapped. 

You can sue the tow company and get money for it – threaten to call the cops on them if you need to. 

  • Get Your Car Back For Free:

Kidnapping is a serious thing – if you don’t want to deal with the effort of suing, you can just choose to forget about the thing. 

The tow company will likely let you go scotch free without needing to be asked more than once. 

Remember, it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with local parking regulations and avoid ending up in such a pickle in the first place. 

It’s for your own safety. A car’s not the safest place to sleep in anyways, as getting robbed or carjacked can happen very easily. 

And one more thing – if you somehow still end up like that, don’t let the tow company affect your decision. 

Sue them if that’s what you want, it’s completely justified. Don’t let them weasel their way out of trouble by blaming their driver.

A good tow company wouldn’t end up with such a problem in the first place. 

Why Is It Illegal To Tow A Vehicle With A Person Inside

Towing a vehicle with someone still in it is against the law because it’s all about keeping people safe. There are a few reasons why this is not allowed:

  • Safety Hazards: Towing a vehicle with a person inside can be dangerous. The jerky movements, sudden stops, and turns during towing can throw the person off balance, causing injuries.
  • Limited Visibility And Communication: When you’re stuck inside a towed vehicle, it’s hard to see what’s going on outside, and it’s tough to talk to the tow truck driver. This makes it tricky to handle any emergencies or potential dangers on the road.
  • Emergency Situations: If something goes wrong, like a breakdown or an accident, having a person inside the towed vehicle makes it much more complicated to deal with the problem. It’s harder to figure out what’s happening, get help quickly, or safely get the person out of harm’s way.

That’s why the law generally says that everyone needs to get out of the vehicle before it gets towed. 

It’s all about keeping everyone safe and preventing any unnecessary injuries during the towing process.

General Towing Laws For Legally Towing A Vehicle

Towing laws can vary from place to place, but there are some general principles to keep in mind if you are getting your vehicle towed. Check them out:

  • Authorization: Towing usually requires proper authorization. This means you need the owner’s explicit consent or approval from law enforcement, depending on the situation.
  • Right Equipment: Towing a vehicle usually calls for the right equipment, like tow trucks or flatbed trailers. The gear should be in good shape and suitable for the type and weight of the vehicle being towed.
  • Clear Signage: Towing companies typically need to slap some clear and visible signs on their trucks to let folks know they’re official. It helps other drivers know what’s going on and ensures the towing process is legal and safe.
  • Parking Violations: Towing often comes into play to enforce parking rules. If a vehicle is parked where it shouldn’t be, blocking traffic, or violating parking regulations, it might end up getting towed.
  • Impoundment: Towed vehicles are usually taken to impound lots or designated storage areas. These lots have to follow specific rules regarding security, record-keeping, and how they handle the vehicles.

To stay on the right side of towing laws, take the time to get familiar with the local regulations and maybe consult official sources or legal professionals for accurate and up-to-date info.

When Can You Carry Passengers In A Vehicle That Is Being Towed

Normally, it’s not safe for passengers to be inside a towed vehicle.

There may be exceptional situations where this is allowed, albeit with specific conditions. Let’s talk about those.

  • Evacuation Orders: During mandatory evacuations for disasters like hurricanes, blizzards or wildfires, passengers may need to stay in their vehicle while it’s towed to safe areas.
  • High-risk Areas: In dangerous or crime-prone areas, passengers might be told to stay in the vehicle for their safety while it’s towed to a secure location.
  • Traffic Congestion And Accidents: If there’s heavy traffic or an accident, passengers may be asked to stay in the vehicle during towing, especially when emergency services are present.
  • Roadside Breakdowns In Hazardous Locations: When a vehicle breaks down in dangerous spots like busy highways, passengers may have to stay inside until it’s towed to a safer place.

Remember, these situations are rare, so follow instructions from law enforcement, emergency responders, or towing professionals for guidance.

Safety Tips for Passengers in a Towed Vehicle

If you need to stay inside a towed vehicle during an emergency, here are some direct safety tips to keep in mind. 

They ensure your well-being while the tow truck driver handles the towing process:

  • Stay In The Loop: The driver will let you know you’ll be staying inside the vehicle during towing due to an emergency. Make sure you know the plan for your own safety.
  • Check The Setup: Look around and ensure the tow truck’s flatbed is securely fastened and in good shape for a safe ride.
  • Keep Talking: Feel free to chat with the driver during the process. If you have any worries or questions, just ask. They’re there to help and make sure you’re doing okay.
  • Put On The Seatbelt: This one’s obvious and incredibly vital since tow rides can be shaky. Make sure you and everyone in the towed vehicle wear seatbelts for protection.
  • Smooth Turns And Stops: The driver will make smooth turns and stops to keep the ride comfortable. Let them know if you experience abrupt movements.
  • Quick Check-ins: The driver will periodically check on you to see how you’re doing, even without prompting. Be open to them about any worries and stay calm.


Is it illegal to sleep in your car?

Sleeping in your car can be against the law in certain areas. Make sure to check local regulations before deciding to sleep in your car, especially in public places or specific zones.

Can you legally stop your car from being towed?

If your car is already being towed, it’s challenging to legally prevent it. However, if you believe the towing is unfair or there are special circumstances, reach out to local law enforcement or parking authorities for help.

Can you be in a car being towed on a flatbed?

Yes, if you follow the safety guidelines and make sure that the flatbed is fit properly.

Can someone tow your car for no reason?

Towing companies or authorities usually need a good reason, such as a parking violation or obstruction, to tow your car. If you believe your car was towed without a valid reason, you can dispute it by contacting the appropriate authorities or seeking legal advice.

Is it bad for your car to get towed?

When done properly, towing doesn’t cause significant damage to your vehicle. However, improper towing can result in scratches or dents. If your car is damaged during improper towing, you can consider suing the towing company. Collect evidence of the damage and consult with legal experts for guidance.

Final Thoughts

Being towed while sleeping in your car is uncommon, but it can happen in emergencies. 

Now you know what to do when your car is being towed with you sleeping in it. 

Prioritize safety, follow guidelines, and communicate with the tow truck driver. 

Remember to buckle up and comply with local laws. Stay informed and stay safe!

Ricardo Vaughn
Ricardo Vaughn

Vaughn is a seasoned off-roading expert and professional winch specialist. When he's not out on the trails, he shares his knowledge and experiences through his writing as a blog author in the off-roading and outdoor lifestyle space.

Articles: 98