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  • Writer's pictureTom Fowler

Is it Illegal to Drive with Sandals?

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

No doubt, every driver would agree that foot comfort is essential when behind the wheel. They want to feel comfortable as much as possible every time they are on the road, especially during heavy traffic.

As they spend several hours behind the wheel, they do things that can make the entire driving experience less of a chore. So, it’s no surprise to see them wear flip-flops, slippers, and other open shoes or drive with two feet.

Many drivers experience extra relief when they free their feet, particularly if they do not wear bulky shoes. However, is it legal to drive with flip-flops or sandals?

Driving with flip flops, is it legal?

Driving with Flip Flops, is it Legal?

In different parts of Des Moines, Iowa, and other states, summer means less clothing or flip-flops due to high temperatures. Flip flops are among the most comfortable and lightweight alternatives to bulky, closed shoes. However, you might wonder if driving in them can lead to safety concerns or serious injuries.

Many people believe wearing shoes like ankle boots should be observed and driving with flip-flops is illegal. However, there are no specific traffic laws or state laws in the U.S. prohibiting drivers from wearing certain types of summer footwear like flip-flops and high-heeled shoes. While it is not illegal to wear them, you may still experience legal issues for some reasons.

State laws require drivers to operate the gas and brake pedals and the vehicle itself responsibly and safely. If you do not wear shoes, you are not complying with this requirement.

Driving with flip-flops is not considered the safest scenario while on the road; you have the freedom to wear that footwear. In states like Ohio, a police officer cannot pull you over for driving in unsafe shoes. This means you will not get any traffic tickets according to what you wear. So, feel free to wear your favorite pair of flip flops or high heels or even drive barefoot as long as you do not violate any traffic laws.

Is it Illegal to Drive Barefoot?

If you live in Ohio, you know that you cannot go to most public places barefoot. However, you can even drive a car without shoes. There are no state or federal laws that make driving barefoot illegal in any state in the United States.

On the other hand, it does not mean that you will not face civil penalties or charges for driving barefoot if it is reckless and you failed to operate the motor vehicle safely. These circumstances may lead to a car accident and even car accident lawsuits while you are driving barefoot. So, you have to be extra careful when driving barefoot.

Risks of driving without shoes

Driving in Flip Flops or Barefoot, What are the Risks?

As mentioned earlier, wearing shoes that are not driving-friendly, like flip flops, or you wish to drive barefoot, is not illegal in Ohio and other states. However, it does not necessarily mean that doing it will not put many drivers at serious risks that may lead to consequences.

In most cases, many drivers who drive in flip flops or barefoot can cause several car accidents on the road per year because of the distraction they cause. Flip flops or not wearing shoes requires you to double the time you need to respond to hazards and even makes you slow down if you have to move between the gas and brake pedal. This footwear can quickly get stuck under the brake pedal.

If you drive in flip-flops, it increases the time you need to decelerate approximately by 0.13 seconds. Most drivers also experience some mishaps while driving in flip-flops. In other words, you will not receive a traffic ticket from a police officer for driving in unsafe footwear. However, suppose you drive reckless or negligent. In that case, it will lead you to commit traffic infractions or legal trouble and need legal advice from an attorney.

Many types of footwear like flip flops, slippers, or high heels are unsafe or dangerous to drive in, leading to hazardous conditions and car accidents due to distraction, particularly if they possess the following characteristics:

  • Weak construction;

  • The bottom of the shoe has minimal surface area;

  • Flat soles;

  • Limited ankle motion;

  • Thick soles;

  • Slippery soles

Beware that flip flops or high heels have many of the mentioned characteristics above. However, if you want to enjoy the freedom of wearing flip flops or drive barefoot while avoiding car accidents, ensure to always bring an extra pair of recommended shoes in your vehicle. Then, change before getting on the road and always drive wearing shoes that are driver-friendly.

What are the Traffic Violations for Driving in Flip Flops?

While there is no particular state law or federal law prohibiting drivers from wearing flip flops, urge drivers who were caught operating a vehicle with no reasonable reason or negligent driving that caused trouble will face charges.

Reckless driving includes ignoring traffic signs, tailgating, illegal passing, racing, and speeding. On the other hand, the reckless driving definition is comprehensive. This means if drivers who operate in unsafe shoes were the direct cause of the trouble leading to a serious injury because their feet may slip on the pedals, they have to face charges that involved reckless driving.

If an Accident Happened Due to Driving in Flip Flops or Barefoot, What Should You Do?

Whether you caused the accident because you were wearing flip flops while on the road or you drove barefoot, or another driver who was wearing an unsafe shoe or lack thereof caused the car accident, or you may suffer damage to possessions and property and serious injuries after the crash.

If you experience a serious injury from a dangerous road accident, feel free to collect compensation through the insurance claim or personal injury lawsuits. Before making a claim, ensure to consider the following steps for proper documentation of that accident for validation purposes:

  • Call 911 to bring police officers and emergency services to the scene;

  • Do not hesitate to seek medical attention and ensure to collect your medical records;

  • Ensure to take photos of the accident that is left untouched, including the surrounding area, traffic signs, your injuries, and all vehicles involved;

  • Do not forget to get the insurance information and contact details of the other driver

  • Collect the contact information of the witnesses at the crash;

  • Seek legal advice from an attorney.


For sure, all drivers behind the wheel would agree that comfort is one of the essential things they want for their feet while on the road. So, you may want to wear flip-flops or even prefer driving barefoot because of the comfort it provides. It may not be illegal to drive in flip flops; however, you need to be responsible and follow the traffic law and always wear the proper footwear to prevent slips and other mishaps that may cause danger. Suppose you are involved in an accident because you or another driver were wearing unsafe shoes or driving barefoot. In that case, you can ask for legal assistance from an experienced attorney. The attorney can also help you if you receive a traffic ticket or go to court once dangerous accidents occur due to distracted driving.

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