Can You Sleep In McDonald’s Parking Lot? (The Truth)


Can you sleep in McDonald parking lot

Have you ever wondered if you can sleep in McDonald´s parking lot?

Look no more. We´ve got you covered.

McDonalds has some pretty big parking lots, right? As a result, a lot of people wonder whether they can just pull up into a McDonalds parking lot and stay overnight in their RV. Let’s take a look at the answer, shall we?

So can you sleep in McDonald’s parking lot? In short, no you probably cannot sleep in the parking lot of a McDonalds in the USA. However, we know that some McDonalds in other countries will allow overnight parking, but the vast majority of them do not.

It is important to note that we are only talking about McDonalds parking lots in the United States here. The rules may be different elsewhere.

For example, Scottish and Swedish McDonalds may be more likely to let you sleep in the McDonalds parking lot due to their laws allowing people to roam around a bit more freely.

Although, you will have to look into the laws of those countries if you are looking for specifics on how it all works. 

Can You Sleep in a McDonalds Parking Lot?

We are going to be making the assumption that you are planning on sleeping in either an RV or a car here.

Obviously, the rules would change a little bit if you planned on pulling out a sleeping bag and just sleeping in the parking lot…albeit ever so slightly. 

Firstly, you have to remember that McDonalds parking lots are private property. If they are not owned by McDonalds, then they are going to be owned by somebody.

Obviously, the purpose of these parking lots are for people to get their food from McDonalds, eat it, and then disappear.

If you are sleeping in a parking lot, then you will have broken the terms of entry to that parking lot. You are, essentially, tresspassing on the property.

If you are trespassing, then McDonalds has the right to get you removed from their property.

That being said, even if the car park allows overnight parking, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are allowed to sleep in the vehicle.

Many states actually prohibit people from sleeping in vehicles overnight.

This is not to say that something will happen if you do sleep in the car park overnight, but you will still be breaking the law and you may have to deal with the consequences of that. 

Read also: Can I Park an RV at Walmart? [Recent Law & Rules]

What Are the Risks of Sleeping in a McDonalds Parking Lot?

Honestly, in most cases, nothing actually happens to people that sleep in their vehicles in a McDonalds parking lot.

Most McDonalds staff do not seem to want to deal with the confrontation of it all, so they just let things slide, unless one of the following happens:

  • You are creating a lot of noise.
  • You are blocking their deliveries.
  • You have a large RV that is taking up a lot of space.

Obviously, we cannot guarantee that McDonalds will not take any action against you. You are still taking a risk.

However, it seems as if there are a lot of people out there that have managed to sleep in a McDonalds parking lot without any issues.

If the McDonalds is not a 24-hour McDonalds, then you are more likely going to be asked to leave. This is because these car parks will often be regularly inspected by the parking management company.

If they find that anybody is parked there when they shouldn’t be, then they will ask them to leave.

In some states, they may even have the power to fine people for parking on the property. In rare cases, you may even end up getting clamped!

Honestly, as long as you do not cause any issues, then pretty much the worst thing that will happen is that you are asked to leave by the McDonalds staff.

If you do not leave, then they may call the police to remove you.

If you refuse to leave for the police, then you could end up being arrested and your vehicle may be impounded. However, since you are reading this page, we are going to assume that you are not stupid enough to argue with the police. 

Read also: Tips For NON-Truckers: Are Truck Stops Safe for RV’s to Park Overnight?

Can McDonalds Tell When You Parked in the Parking Lot?

Yes. You may not be able to see them, but most McDonalds will have license plate recognition cameras in place.

When you drive into the parking lot, they will scan your license plate and make a note of when you arrived.

When you leave, the license plate will be scanned again, and a note of when you left is recorded.

Of course, this means that McDonalds are always going to know exactly when you turned up in their parking lot.

There is no sense in arguing that you have only been there for a couple of hours when their technology says that you have been there overnight.

In many cases, the parking lots that employ this technology will actually send a signal to the parking management team if a particular vehicle overstays the amount of time it is allowed to be in the parking lot.

As a result, somebody will end up being sent to the location and, in the vast majority of cases, you will probably end up with a parking ticket.

Are You at the Risk of Crime If Sleeping in a McDonalds Parking Lot?

It does depend on where the McDonalds is located, as well as the opening hours of the McDonalds. 

If you are parking up in a high crime area, then you may be at risk. That being said, there are very few people that will try to break into a vehicle that clearly has somebody sleeping in it. The risk would be far too great.

The chances of your vehicle being broken into are likely going to be a lot smaller in a well-lit parking lot for a McDonalds that is open for 24-hours and gets a decent amount of traffic. Again, the risk is going to be far too great.

Now, we are not saying that there is no risk of crime if you are parked in a McDonalds parking lot, but the risk of crime is probably going to be a lot lower than if you choose to park in a different location.

Read also: Average RV Park Rates: Nationwide Campgrounds Prices per Night

Are There Alternatives to Sleeping in a McDonalds Parking Lot?

There aren’t that many free locations that you can park in, sadly. There may be a random large car park in the middle of nowhere that you can park in, but you will always be running the risk of being caught.

There are many motels that do offer RV parking if you have an RV, although they may not let you bring a standard car to sleep in.

Depending on the laws of the state you are in, they may not allow you to sleep in the parking lot. You may still have to rent a room from the motel.

Read also: Can You Live in an RV Park? Here’s Exactly What To Expect

What States Is It Illegal To Sleep In Your Car

The table below shows some of the states where it is illegal to sleep in your car:

StateOvernight parking at rest stopsSleeping in car laws
AlabamaNot allowedNo parking on highwaysYou can be arrested for having control of a vehicle while intoxicated, even if the car isn’t moving.It’s banned in some cities like Fairhope
AlaskaNothing specifiedParking and sleeping in car laws vary by cityYou may not be allowed to park on public property not marked as official parkingIn Anchorage, you cannot park on a street, public parking space or public way for over 24 hours, except from Friday noon to Monday noon.
ArizonaAllowed, but no camping outside the carSome cities like Phoenix ban camping, including car campingYou can be arrested for having control of your vehicle while intoxicated.
ArkansasAllowed for safety purposes only, no campingParking laws vary by city. In general, obey street parking signs and time limits.
California8-hour limit at rest stops, no overnight parking or campingMany cities ban sleeping in cars in undesignated areasYou may find designated overnight parking lotsNo parking on freeways, except for emergencies
ColoradoNot allowedThere are designated overnight parking areas in the state.You can be arrested for having control of your vehicle while intoxicated.You can’t park on controlled-access highways.
ConnecticutNot allowedParking laws vary by citySome cities prohibit overnight parking on city streets between certain hours
Delaware4-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or campingParking laws vary by city
Florida3-hour limit for parking, no overnight parking or campingHighway shoulders are reserved for emergency vehiclesSome cities or counties ban sleeping in cars entirely, including The KeysYou can be arrested for having control of your car while intoxicated, even if it’s not moving.
GeorgiaNot allowedHighway shoulders are reserved for emergency vehicles.Make sure you’re not violating city or county parking laws or signs.
HawaiiNot allowedYou can’t sleep or live in your vehicle on any public roadway between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.You can’t use private property without the owner’s consent.

Conclusion 

You cannot sleep in a McDonalds parking lot. It is unlikely that there will be any action taken against you if you do, you have to remember that you are still tresspassing on private property when you park with the intention of sleeping.

This means that there is always the risk that you will end up being removed from the property. 

Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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