Many U.S. citizens have the impression that it is illegal to drive barefoot. In fact, it is legal to drive with no shoes on, and no U.S. states have explicit laws against driving barefoot. Most motor vehicle organizations recommend driving with shoes, however.
It is always illegal to drive recklessly or negligently, so you can face charges if your barefoot driving causes an accident.
Some driving organizations believe driving barefoot can be a safer choice than driving with hazardous footwear that could get stuck and cause an accident. For example, large boots could potentially get stuck under the brake pedal and make it difficult to stop.
Driving with bare feet can also be dangerous, though, like your foot slipping off the brake pedal or your discarded shoe getting stuck under the pedals. Barefoot driving should be a last resort only if your current footwear is not a safe option.
No laws ban specific footwear while driving. However, going barefoot may be the safer choice if you are trying to drive in:
Some shoe soles or long laces can get stuck and prevent you from reaching the brake pedal.
Every year, people have accidents or near-misses when shoes get caught or prevent them from reaching the brakes. Anything that slows down your braking time can mean the difference between life and death.
Any footwear that prohibits driving a car safely and correctly is illegal under reckless driving laws. Most of this is common sense, but people still get charged for unsafe footwear.
Types of footwear you shouldn’t drive in include:
These options may prevent your ankle from bending and reaching pedals correctly. They can also get caught on or under the pedal. Socks can reduce traction between your foot and the pedal.
These types of shoes are not explicitly banned by name in most laws. However, a police officer can determine if you are being reckless if you cause an accident, and they see your choice of footwear.
Typically you won’t get a fine or a ticket if an officer pulls you over and notices you are driving in slippers. Simply going barefoot or wearing strange footwear is not illegal by itself.
If law enforcement thinks your footwear contributed to swerving or other risky behavior, you could face a traffic ticket or:
An accident while driving barefoot can result in any of the above charges, despite barefoot driving not technically being illegal.
Some states, such as Alabama, have laws that forbid riding a motorcycle barefoot. Most other states do not have regulations regarding footwear on motorcycles but most safety organizations will say it is not recommended.
Some insurance policies can void your coverage for wearing unsafe footwear.
They will likely charge you higher premiums after an accident, so playing it safe can save you money in the long run.
If you cause an accident or get a ticket, your footwear choice can be part of the problem. You can fight the ticket in court or hire an attorney to fight the charges for you.
Traffic ticket attorneys typically charge $100-$500 per hour for representation. In some cases, this might cost more than the ticket. For large accidents or significant charges, however, you may want to fight it.
In some states, negligent, careless, or reckless driving is a misdemeanor criminal charge. Misdemeanors typically stay on your record for three years, which could cost you some jobs or college applications. If you are charged more than once, you could face a more serious charge and harsher penalties for a conviction.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified traffic violation lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local traffic violation attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.
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