It is now illegal to sleep in your car in Roanoke, Virginia.
City officials in Roanoke, Virginia, announced on Tuesday that a new ordinance makes it illegal to sleep in your vehicle, even on private property. The ordinance went into effect immediately.
The decision was made to protect the health and safety of the individuals, as well as maintain the aesthetic appeal of the county. The biggest concerns were people sleeping in recreational vehicles in the surrounding neighborhoods outside of established campgrounds, making those neighborhoods look bad.
According to a report by the Ledger-Enquirer, the ordinance specified that anyone using a vehicle as living quarters instead of a residence, such as a hotel, would be ticketed with a class 4 misdemeanor. The maximum fine is $250.
“The purpose of the ordinance is to enable our staff to intervene in serious cases where people are using their automobiles for an extended period of time as sleeping quarters, in place of a residence, hotel or other accommodations,” Roanoke County said in a statement.
Though the problem is not a common occurrence, the county still felt that the matter needed to be dealt with. The ordinance began because a neighbor complained at a local board meeting that she noticed someone sleeping in their vehicle with a space heater and an extension cord, right outside her home.
Amy Whittaker told Virginia First, “Our primary concern behind this is the health and safety of people. On a cold winter day like today, we don’t want people living in their cars; it’s not a safe comfortable place for them to be. It gives us an opportunity to provide them with resources that might aid them in their situation and try to help them out.”
The ordinance does not extend to napping in one’s car. That would still be considered legal. So if you need to pull over to the side of the road and take a break in order to travel safely, you will not be prosecuted.
For more information, check out the ordinance itself.
Have you slept in your vehicle before? Do you agree with this ordinance? Tell us in the comments!