Traffic Violations Law

Is It Illegal To Drive Barefoot?

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.

When to Drive Barefoot

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.

Wearing Hazardous Footwear While Driving

No laws ban specific footwear while driving. However, going barefoot may be the safer choice if you are trying to drive in:

  • Flip-flops
  • High heels
  • Open-toe sandals
  • Shoes that are not fully strapped on your feet
  • Boots or shoes with long laces
  • Boots with a ridge along the sole (such as Ugg boots)

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.

Footwear That Can Get You Ticketed

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:

  • Ice skates
  • Rollerblades
  • Swim flippers
  • Jumping shoes
  • Foot or leg casts
  • Slippers
  • Socks
  • Some horseback riding boots
  • Some work boots

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.

Charges for Driving Barefoot or In Bad 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:

  • Reckless driving charges: driving in a way that puts people or property in danger on purpose, such as street racing, or by accident
  • Negligent driving charges: failing to use common sense or "reasonable care" while driving, which includes anything you might do that could be called "careless"
  • Careless driving charges: Another term used for negligent driving
  • Distracted driving charges: Doing anything in the car that takes your attention from the road, such as trying to loosen a shoe caught under the pedal

An accident while driving barefoot can result in any of the above charges, despite barefoot driving not technically being illegal.

Riding Barefoot on Motorcycles

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.

Your Insurance Likely Has Concerns About Footwear

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.

Tickets or Fines for Your Footwear While Driving

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.