Is It Illegal to Drive Barefoot?

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There’s nothing like the feel of the open road — just you, your car, and miles of highway stretching off into the distance. Driving is the definition of freedom, a past time as American as baseball.

Sometimes you want to feel the gas pedal underneath your toes, you want to feel directly connected to your car’s engine. Sometimes you just want to drive barefoot.

What are the legal ramifications of driving without shoes?

Our research indicated two facts —

1. There is no specific law restricting the operation of a motor vehicle without shoes in any of the fifty states or the District of Columbia

and

2. Every state’s department of public safety has a recommendation that drivers wear shoes, either to avoid reckless driving charges (a very real possibility) or injury during an accident.

The Legality of Driving Barefoot

So,  driving barefoot can get you ticketed for reckless driving (or any number of other statutes) and can cause severe injury in the case of an accident.

While you will not be ticketed specifically for “driving barefoot”, your state’s DPS can ticket you for any number of driving offenses related to barefoot driving.

If you believe tradition, when automobiles first appeared on the scene, they were not covered in upholstery, no floor mats and nothing to block the feet of the driver from the heat of the engine. During these times, a barefoot driver risked serious burns to their feet if not wearing proper footwear. For many people, this old tradition of covering the feet to protect them from the engine is the main reason they feel the need to wear shoes.

Driving barefoot is an unavoidable event sometimes. Maybe you lost your shoes after a day at the beach or are in a hurry to get to the emergency room or other emergency facility. Know your local laws and be extra careful when driving barefoot, and you should ‘get away’ with it just fine.

This article is part of a series we’re doing on “Is It Illegal?” The other post in this series is:

16 thoughts on “Is It Illegal to Drive Barefoot?

  1. Ask Deb

    Thanks for your comment Myranya. After contacting state officials in the states listed as having restrictions on barefoot driving, AskDeb can confirm that there are laws on the books in Alabama, Ohio, and California that restrict or forbid barefoot driving.

    Also — since barefoot driving is considered unsafe driving, it will always be our policy to speak out against it. If a peace officer wants to ticket you for reckless driving simply because you are barefoot, you better believe that peace officer is going to do it.

  2. Ryan S

    I can verify that driving barefoot in Wisconsin is permitted.

    This is per a conversation with the Wisconsin State Patrol, considered the supreme authority on traffic laws here.

  3. Yashi

    Why should it be illegal to drive barefoot? It should be illegal to drive with heels, flip flops, and big boots. I wish people would just stop repeating this myth.

  4. David Shine

    Remind me never to AskDeb–or even read her column. Obviously either she does not do her homework or does shoddy research. She obviously has contempt for going to verifiable sources. I have no problem with people disagreeing with my positions. I have no respect for those who argue their opininions as if they were facts.

  5. Owen

    I have researched this topic myself in the past and can verify what Myranya says. In NO state is it illegal to drive without shoes! If some trooper is having a bad day he might give you a BS ticket for “Not being in control of your vehicle” (a Texas trick that I have been threatened with) but he would have to argue that case before a judge, that shoes are required to be in full control of your vehicle. (I dared the officer to take me to court on the matter, and he declined.) Deb, if you are going to make such sweeping claims you really need to back it up with some references, just the way that Myranya did.

  6. barefoot4life

    askdeb.com is a bunch of fluff and mindlessness irrational non-sense. At least this site had the balls to correct the fact that their are no laws against driving barefoot anywhere! But give me a break. Law enforcement can ticket you for reckless driving if you drive barefoot? I live in CA, my dad was a CHP officer, many of my friends are in the CHP, city PD or sherriffs and they laugh at the idea that it would be reckless if I drive barefoot. In fact, in most cases, driving with shoes is reckless. Think about it. Bulky boots may press down on two pedels, flip flops or footwear with out a heal strap slides around and high heels are just completely impractical. Barefeet can feel the pedels, won’t get in the way of anything and won’t slide around. They also won’t get worn out, at all. Where does askdeb.com get their information, a cracker jack box? This website it full of a heap of rubbish and I’m going to make sure eveyone knows to stay clear of it. Anyone who consults askdeb.com will be dumber for doing so.

  7. Ask Deb

    Thanks for the response, barefoot4life. AskDeb.com agrees with you — the idea of being ticketed or made at fault for a wreck simply for being barefoot is going too far. We do, however, feel the need to publish the truth. Speaking personally with DPS officers from around the country (as well as public affairs workers for the federal DOT) we learned that while there are no laws against barefoot driving, a peace officer has the right in most cases to blame you for an accident if you are driving barefoot — or to cite you for reckless driving or “failure to control the vehicle” if you are caught driving sans footwear. We are not taking sides, we are simply reporting the facts that we gathered.

    While your opinion on the nature of our website (“a bunch of fluff and mindlessness irrational non-sense”) is valuable, we feel the need to report what we learn in the course of answering our member’s questions.

    Right or wrong, you run the risk of being ticketed or (worse) cited for fault if you’re involved in an accident while not wearing footwear.

    Thanks again for the opinion, and we hope that you’ll change your mind and continue to come to AskDeb for all your future questions.

  8. D.R.

    “Apparently” divisive? Yes, AskDeb, when you publish inaccurate information that comes close to defaming an entire group of people, it’s going to be divisive.

    Any research you did on this story was based on the premise that driving barefoot was prohibited in the states you mentioned, which, as you’ve already mentioned, not true.

    Why don’t you just admit that you didn’t do your homework on this one and are trying to CYA at this point? Seriously, your credibility would be a lot better if you did.

  9. Richard

    Deb, you state that you have corrected the assumption that driving barefoot is illegal, yet the original answer to the query is that it is illegal. You need to correct that. Many people will read the first part of your fabrication, without reading any of the follow-up. Also, you state that a police or highway patrol can write you up if you are driving barefoot. An officer can write you a summons for almost anything. That does not mean it will stand up in court.

  10. c kinney

    wow askdebs is a total noob. I had no idea. I’ve never come hear before and won’t be able to see it come up in a search engine again without shaking my head in amazement at how someone in such a position could spread such fallacy.

  11. Karl

    This is pretty surprising. I always drive barefoot whenever I’m wearing flip flops because I find driving with them on gives me less control over the pedals.

  12. annette

    Anyone who thinks driving barefoot is more dangerous than driving with heels or flip flops is very wrong.

    Also shoes slip off petals much easier than a barefoot does.

    I drive barefoot probably 90% of the time and have not been in an accident in 22 years.

  13. AnotheBAREFOOTDriver

    You have got to be kidding right? I have always driven in barefeet, I live in Florida and no law has ever existed here stating it is illegal to drive a vehicle in barefeet. I have also been in sevral accidents [NOT my fault) and have never, not once ever been cited for driving in barefeet. And neither has anyone else in my state. If an officer wrote a citation based on a person driving in barefeet, they’d get LAUGHED out of the courtroom!

    Like others have stated, you need to get your facts from legitimate sources, apparently the IDIOTS you polled for this particular writing don’t know the laws of their own state or they aren’t or weren’t the proper people to be addressing or giving answers to something of which they have absolutely no knowledge. You say you polled 50 states, well I’d sure like to know what moron you asked ths of in Florida, because if they said it was “illegal to drivein bare feet”, they had their head so far up their butt they couldn’t see daylight. I truly DO NOT BELIEVE you polled anyone in Floridabecause I don’t know a single person here that would state such a fallicy.

    This was my first time to this site, and after seeing uch ridiculous writings containing false information. I doubt I’ll be looking at it in the future, why? becauseif you couldn’t pull this simple criteria together and get it right, and your lack of any relevant research here proves that, how could anyone believe or take stock in anything else you may write and comment on here?

    Sorry Deb, but you totally blew it on this one, and this question has been asked many times and many years ago, always with the same answer, “NO IT IS NOT ILLEGAL TO DRIVE IN BAREFEET”, never has been to my knowledge.

  14. Ask Deb

    Maybe you missed the first paragraph of the article where we pointed to the correction and admitted and apologized for the mistake? I thought that since we wrote it in bold AND in italics AND we put it at the very top of the page, then people might see it.

  15. Ask Deb

    Thanks for your feedback, Richard Keith Frazine. Sorry you don’t like our website. If citing official state government websites is your criterion for whether or not a site is a legitimate information website, then you must be disappointed with most of the sites on the Internet.

  16. jen

    I don’t know anything about “Ask Deb”….
    but I do know this:
    I go barefoot 95% of the time. Aside from feeling more connected to the planet and enjoying a sense of freedom, I also notice that my reaction time when walking is better than with shoes. I am 31 years old and am just now learning to drive a car. (Craziness in and of itself, I know) I can tell you from experience thusfar, that I feel much safer being barefoot. I am more confident in my reflexes and I feel more connected with the vehicle as well.
    Thank you for letting me throw my 2 cents in there. God Bless!

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