We all know that driving whilst tired is one of the biggest dangers facing motorists on the road so you may assume there would be no harm pulling up to the kerb and snoozing for a few hours to refresh yourself.
However, doing this in some areas could be a costly misjudgement as some parts of Australia have actually deemed sleeping in your car an illegal act which could result in a triple-figure fine.
Dozing in your driver’s seat may seem like a harmless act particularly given the risks of being fatigued behind the wheel, so just why is sleeping in your car deemed illegal?
Wrong place at the wrong time
Strangely enough, sleeping in your car is not actually a regulation that is deemed illegal in any road regulations anywhere across Australia as an actual infringement.
Instead, the laws are applied to a rather different sector: illegal camping. It’s a ruling that is very hit or miss across the country, with it being applied directly by local councils rather than state authorities.
The only state that has a ruling that applies across the entire region is Queensland where motorists sleeping behind the wheel is deemed as illegal camping unless it’s within a permitted zone, for example, a rest stop.
These laws are enforced by councils who each have their own unique spin on the exact ruling although you can be penalised anywhere in the state from the Gold Coast to Cairns.
It’s a ruling that is slowly creeping in throughout local councils across other eastern states with popular tourist areas such as Byron Bay in NSW and popular beach spots in Victoria such as Hobsons Bay and the Surf Coast.
It’s a bit more of a relaxed affair elsewhere across Australia with SA, WA, NT, and Tasmania all opting not to penalise anyone innocently napping in the front seat.
Sleeping in your car could be a costly error
The penalties for being caught asleep in your car vary across states, but can be quite severe, with some fines being surprisingly high compared to other road-based misdemeanours.
With Queensland being the most likely spot to punish you for the offence, you need to be wary that the fine varies from region to region with some notable inclusions being:
Brisbane: $550 fine.
Cairns: $275 fine.
Gold Coast: $150 fine.
Even the most rural areas of Queensland have strict penalties such as the Cape York Peninsula offering a $260 fine for anyone napping behind the wheel.
There are fewer places which apply penalties further south, but they can be just as expensive if you don’t tread carefully. For example, Byron Bay in NSW has introduced a $110 fine in a bid to deter RVs and vans from clogging up the region’s roads.
It’s a similar story in Geelong, with the Victorian city introducing a law to try and prevent tourists driving along the Great Ocean Road from snoozing on the city’s outskirts. They introduced a fine of $300 for anyone caught in a slumber on the side of the road.
Don’t drink and sleep
If you thought snoozing in your car was a good idea after a boozy night out, then you could face even harsher penalties if you sleep in the driver or front passenger’s seat.
Authorities across Australia interpret anyone sitting in the driver’s seat under the influence of alcohol as an act of drink-driving and is punishable under those laws even if you were in a deep sleep, with the vehicle off.
This comes with its own set of penalties that could include severe fines or potentially losing your licence depending on where your car might be located.
Tips for tired drivers
Driving when you’re tired is a major hazard that could put yourself, your passengers and other motorists at serious risk if you aren’t paying attention to the world around you.
There are plenty of authorised and legal rest stops across Australia’s major highways which are legal areas for you to snooze and take a rest when going on particularly long journeys.
If you are near major towns or cities, you should also opt for a hotel or find a nearby campsite if heading into more rural areas.
Doing this will not only ensure you avoid an unwanted fine or being a hazard, but also guarantees a better night’s sleep than what any car seat could.
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