Is It Illegal to Drive Barefoot?

Bare feet and driving don't always go together.
Bare feet and driving don't always go together. / DragonImages/iStock via Getty Images

Summer is here, which can mean trips to the beach, park, or anywhere else that doesn’t require shoes to be worn. That sense of freedom can extend to your car, where some people opt to go barefoot. But is putting the pedal to the metal while shoeless illegal? Can it lead to a ticket?

In most cases and in most states, the answer is no—you can’t be fined as a driver for letting your toes air out inside a motor vehicle. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should.

Many states have laws on the books that can complicate your decision to doff sneakers in the event you get into an accident. In Alabama, for example, an investigator could decide that driving barefoot contributed to a crash, which might result in a charge of reckless driving. The same holds true in Arizona, California, and several other states.

Some states, like Ohio, won’t prohibit barefoot driving but may discourage drivers from doing it. In South Dakota, where the legal age for a learner's permit is 14, they also don’t put up much of a fuss about bare feet.

It’s best to drive wearing a shoe with a good grip, since bare feet might slip off a pedal. Wearing sandals, flip-flops, heels, or shoes with loose laces is likely more potentially dangerous, since an ill-fitting shoe can slip off. It’s likely safer to go without shoes than drive in any of these. And if you’re riding a motorcycle, the rules can be totally different. Some states, Alabama included, mandate shoes for riders.

Check your local laws to be sure, since a city mandate might differ from a state policy. And if you notice your passenger making a funny face, maybe do them a favor and put your shoes back on.

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