Is It Illegal to Drive Barefoot?

You’re driving on the road and your socks feel like they’re suffocating your feet and your shoes are half a size too small. Perhaps you’ve come back from the beach and your feet are a bit sandy and you want to let them fully dry. Whether your footwear is uncomfortable, your feet feel hot or you just want to ride with your feet unencumbered by footwear or clothing while stuck in traffic, you might wonder “Is it illegal to drive without shoes?”. The answer may surprise you. Read on to learn more about driving without shoes and if it’s legal in your state or not and what you should know.

Is It Illegal to Drive Barefoot In Your Car? | Metromile

Is it illegal to drive barefoot in your particular state? 

If you’re wondering is it illegal to drive barefoot, the answer is “no”. In fact, in all 50 states, there are no barefoot driving laws that prohibit this particular practice. However, some states may have recommendations or specific policies in place. 

StateIs it illegal to drive barefoot?
AlabamaNo, but shoes must be worn on a motorcycle 
Alaska No, but according to their Motorcycle Operating Manual, “Boots or shoes should be high enough to cover your ankles and sturdy enough to give them support.”
ArizonaNo, but if not wearing shoes causes an accident, you may be hit with a reckless driving charge 
ArkansasNo, but police officers may issue a ticket at their discretion, according to 
Connecticut No
IowaNo, but it’s deemed unsafe 
KansasNo, but according to a news report it’s deemed safer than driving with sandals, high heels, or flip flops 
Louisiana No
Maine No 
Michigan No, states “There is nothing in the Michigan Vehicle Code that prohibits barefoot driving. Careless or reckless driving would really be a stretch, as an argument could be made that a barefoot person has more control over the pedals.”
MinnesotaNo, according to The Free Press 
Mississippi No
Missouri No, but it’s deemed unsafe 
Montana No 
New Hampshire No
New JerseyNo
New Mexico No
New York No
North Carolina No
North DakotaNo
Ohio No, but it’s deemed unsafe 
Oklahoma No 
Oregon No
Pennsylvania No, but if not wearing shoes causes an accident, you may be hit with a reckless driving charge 
Rhode Island No
South Carolina No
South DakotaNo
Tennessee No, says it’s not illegal to drive barefoot in Tennessee but a local official noted that each municipality may have its own laws 
Utah No, The Utah Highway Patrol website states, “Utah law does not require that shoes be worn while operating a motor vehicle. However, common sense should prevail and shoes should be worn. It is much easier and safer to operate a vehicle while wearing shoes.”
Washington D.C.No
West VirginiaNo
Wisconsin No, The Wisconsin Department of Transportation website states, “Is it legal to drive without shoes?Yes.”
Wyoming No, but it’s deemed unsafe. 

Why driving without shoes could put you at risk? 

As you can see, it’s not illegal to drive barefoot in any of the 50 states. But just because it’s not illegal, doesn’t mean it’s completely safe either. Driving without shoes can put you at risk. 

For example, if you’re driving with wet or sandy feet they can affect the traction on the pedals while you drive. If your foot slips off the brake in a time of need, that could be a recipe for disaster. 

On top of that, a shoeless foot doesn’t carry the same weight and it may be harder to press down on the brake or gas as you need to if you’re driving barefoot. In that case, it could add another potential layer of harm to you. 

It could be distracting if you end up stubbing your toe and put you in more danger in the event of a car accident. In the unfortunate event you were in a car accident, there could be shattered glass from the windows and that would be difficult to navigate with bare feet. 

Does the type of shoe you wear matter? 

Wearing shoes while driving is better than going barefoot, in most cases. But not all shoes are created equal when it comes to your safety and driving. Some shoes, while not exactly being barefoot, still have parts of your feet exposed. For example, consider flip-flops or other types of sandals where your toes are uncovered. 

Other types of shoes that might not be as safe are shoes with pointy or chunky heels, such as high heels, wedge heels, or boots. 

In each of these cases, your shoes may put you more at risk while driving. In fact, there have been some reports that barefoot driving is safer than certain shoes like flip-flops. This SELF article says that a 2013 UK survey reported that 1.4 million car accidents each year were caused by flip-flops. 

When driving you want to have your feet protected and covered (so nothing that is open-toed). On top of that, you don’t want the style of the shoes to potentially get in the way of braking or hitting the gas pedal. 

The best type of shoe to wear driving is close-toed, has no heel, and with good traction to effectively maneuver the gas and brake pedals. Also, if possible avoid wearing shoes with long laces that can come undone while driving and be a safety hazard. 

Lastly, though many of us are working from home these days and may be living in pajamas and athleisure, it’s not recommended to drive in slippers either. So while comfortable, they’re not a good or safe option for shoewear when it comes to driving your vehicle. 

Why do people believe it’s illegal to drive without shoes? 

If you’ve been curious and wondered “Is it illegal to drive without shoes?”, now you know it’s technically not against the law. But it’s a common myth. It’s also something that has been culturally conditioned as something that isn’t suitable to do in public. Being barefoot is often thought of as something you do at home, in your personal, private space. 

For example, you go to the store and see a sign that says “no shirt, no shoes, no service”. We wear shoes and clothes to go out into the world, so it’s a natural assumption that not wearing shoes is something we shouldn’t do while driving. You also may have been told by your family or friends that it was illegal and it’s just a belief that has persisted. 

However, there isn’t a particular law banning this practice. But it’s important to note one major caveat though. If you’re barefoot and get into a car wreck, you may be hit with a reckless driving charge if not wearing shoes contributed to the accident, such as with your feet slipping off the pedals. 

The bottom line 

If you’ve ever wondered is it illegal to drive barefoot, now you have a definitive answer. Though not illegal, it’s frowned upon in many states and generally not a good idea. You don’t want to add an additional risk factor while driving and if your bare feet are the cause of a wreck, it could spell trouble for you. Another way to stay safe and protected is by having great car insurance. If you’re a low-mileage driver, you may benefit from pay-per-mile car insurance with Metromile. Get a complimentary quote to see about potential savings.  

Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.