Is It Illegal to Drive Barefoot and How Safe Is It?

No U.S. state prohibits driving without shoes, but doing so can present hazards for you while driving.

Sarah Archambault
Sarah Archambault
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Sarah enjoys helping people find smarter ways to spend their money. She covers auto financing, banking, credit cards, credit health, insurance, and personal loans.

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Katie Powers
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Updated May 28, 2024 | Reading time: 4 minutes

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Despite what you may have heard while learning to drive, you can legally drive without shoes in every U.S. state. However, operating a motor vehicle with your bare feet may present potential hazards. While it may be tempting to kick off your shoes the next time you go for a drive during the warmer months, you could face reckless driving charges if you get into an accident while driving barefoot.[1]

Is driving barefoot against the law?

No federal or state laws prohibit driving barefoot, but your state or local jurisdiction may issue formal guidelines discouraging the practice. For example, Indiana, Iowa, and Utah have guidelines that describe driving without shoes as unsafe.[2]

And, if you’re in an accident in some states — like Arizona, Arkansas, California, or Nevada — you could face fines or criminal charges if the police determine that your lack of footwear contributed to the crash.

Though you can legally drive a car without shoes, operating a motorcycle without shoes is illegal in many states. California motorcyclists can legally drive motorcycles barefoot, but Alabama motorcyclists and passengers must wear footwear.

You can check with your jurisdiction or local law enforcement online or over the phone for more information about laws and guidelines around barefoot driving where you live.

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Is driving barefoot safe?

It may be tempting to drive without your shoes, but it’s generally considered unsafe to do so. While not necessarily illegal, law enforcement agencies and auto insurance companies don’t recommend driving a car or motorcycle while barefoot.

If you leave your discarded shoes on the floor near your feet, they could get stuck under your pedals during your drive and make it harder for you to use your brake or gas pedal. And if this results in an accident or causes damages, you could face reckless driving charges in some states.

What shoes are dangerous for driving?

Potentially dangerous shoes for driving include high heels and flip-flops — making it understandable that you may want to take them off before driving. You should consider keeping an extra pair of more practical footwear in the car just for driving, such as sneakers or other supportive shoes.

Ideally, you’ll want to drive wearing a pair of shoes that stay on your feet and provide ankle support. Wearing the right shoes to drive can be especially helpful if you need to act quickly or slam on your brakes in an emergency situation. But if you do need to wear high heels or flip-flops while driving, consider switching to a more practical option, such as heels with a lower heel or sandals with straps.

Learn More: What Is a Defensive Driving Course and How Do You Enroll in One?

How does driving barefoot affect your car insurance?

Because no laws prohibit it, driving without your shoes likely won’t affect your car insurance rates. However, if you do cause a car accident while driving barefoot, you may receive a charge for reckless driving.

If driving shoeless contributed to the circumstances of the accident, your car insurance company may deny your claim. You could potentially even be on the hook for a personal injury lawsuit if you severely injure someone in an accident.

What other driving habits are dangerous or illegal?

Today’s drivers face many distractions while on the road. From texting to putting on makeup to making a phone call, drivers take their eyes off the road for many different reasons. In some cases, state law prohibits these distracting activities while driving. Depending on the nature of the offense, you could receive a traffic violation for distracted driving. But distracted driving that leads to an accident, injury, or death will result in more serious legal and financial consequences.[3]

Practice safe driving habits and keep your eyes focused on the road because distracted driving causes accidents and serious injury. Consider using technology designed for hands-free phone calls, texting, and playing music to stop you from touching or looking at your phone while driving. Also try to avoid doing anything that can wait until you safely stop your vehicle, such as rummaging through your bag or giving your dog a treat. You can check with local law enforcement resources to learn more about safe driving laws in your jurisdiction.

See Also: Most Dangerous States to Drive In

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Driving barefoot FAQs

Want to know more about the legality of driving barefoot? Here are answers to some common questions.

  • What happens if a cop stops you while you’re driving barefoot?

    It depends. Since no federal or state law completely prohibits driving barefoot, you may not face any consequences. However, some states and local jurisdictions issue guidelines against driving barefoot. You may also be cited if you’re operating or riding a motorcycle barefoot in some states. And if you were pulled over as a result of an accident or incident while driving barefoot, you could potentially be cited for reckless driving.

  • Is barefoot driving considered reckless driving?

    Sometimes it is. If you cause an accident while driving without shoes, the police may cite you for reckless driving if they determine that your driving barefoot contributed to the cause of the crash.

  • Will insurance pay if you’re in an accident while driving barefoot?

    Not always. Your insurance company may not cover the claim if it’s been proven driving barefoot caused the accident or if the police cited you with reckless driving.

  • What shoes are best for driving?

    When driving, you should wear shoes that make it easy to maneuver your vehicle’s pedals and slam on the brake pedal in case of emergency. Sneakers and other shoes that provide support to the ankle are typically considered the safest for driving. Some drivers may choose to wear flip-flops or high heels, but these should generally not be worn while driving.

Sources

  1. FindLaw. "Is it Illegal to Drive Barefoot?."
  2. Utah Department of Public Safety: Highway Patrol. "FAQ – Traffic Laws."
  3. FindLaw. "Distracted Driving."
Sarah Archambault
Sarah Archambault

Sarah Archambault enjoys helping people figure out smarter ways to use their money. She covers auto financing, banking, credit cards, credit health, insurance, and personal loans. She’s created and edited content for Credit Karma, Experian and Sound Dollar, along with banks, financial institutions, and insurance companies.

Katie Powers
Edited byKatie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
Photo of an Insurify author
Katie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 3+ years experience in insurance and personal finance editing

Katie uses her knowledge and expertise as a licensed property and casualty agent in Massachusetts to help readers understand the complexities of insurance shopping.

Featured in

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