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  • Writer's pictureTom Fowler

Is it Illegal to Drive Barefoot?

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

Your children are on their way home from school. Your colleagues called you to go to the office. Or you need to go to the mall to buy groceries. Admit it or not, you are pretty confused about where to begin. Maybe, you can just pick up your kids in a hurry. While you are in the middle of your trip, you realize you are driving barefoot. Your heart perhaps starts to beat fast undoubtedly. But is it illegal to drive barefoot? Well, it is like a myth and an urban legend. For more information, this simple guide has got your back. Without further ado, let’s begin!

Is driving barefoot illegal

Do You Violate any Local or State Laws When You Drive Barefoot? Is Driving Barefoot Illegal?

Unlike driving naked, there is nothing wrong with driving barefoot. It is also not illegal. Plus, there are no specific local laws and state laws that prohibit everyone from driving barefoot. Generally, it is all right to drive even if you do not wear anything on your feet.

Why Do Most People Believe It Is Illegal to Drive Barefoot?

It is unknown where the idea of illegal barefoot driving originally started like an urban legend and other misconceptions. But most people believe it is because we usually drive with shoes on. That’s why some think it is illegal to drive barefoot throughout the U.S. Even if it is not recommended, that does not make it illegal. But there are some exceptions. If you are involved in an accident, and the police departments find you were driving barefoot, you may face reckless driving. Once found guilty, fines may range from $50 to $1,000. You may also spend a maximum of ninety days behind bars. This may vary depending on what state you live in.

Reasons Barefoot Driving Can Pose A Potential Safety Risk

It is not illegal to drive barefoot. But do not feel at ease as it can put your life in danger. You may not realize the importance of safe driving until other drivers file a legal complaint against you. Here are some reasons driving barefoot is not advisable even if it is not illegal:

---Driving requires a lot of maneuvering. You need to hold onto the wheel and step on the brake and accelerators. While this may sound easy, driving for a few hours can strain your hands, feet, legs, back, and even neck. Imagine you drive barefoot for almost half a day. That’s physically tedious. Once our feet are strained, they get wet. Then, the risk of sliding them off on the pedal is higher than wearing shoes.

---Another potential risk of barefoot driving is that you cannot apply the same brake force compared to wearing suitable shoes. Sometimes, you could slam the gas or brake pedals hard, generating too much pressure and heat. This can cause cracks and tears in the hoses. When left unchanged and unchecked for days, the brake fluid levels might be low. Or even worse, it can make your brake pedal unresponsive, compromising your safety on the road. It is no surprise that many believe it is illegal to drive barefoot.

---It might be considered distracted driving. Studies have revealed that around eight people in the U.S. died in crashes that involve a distracted driver. In 2018 alone, more than 2,800 people were killed because of distracted driving. Also, approximately 400,000 people were injured.

---It might lead to additional and serious injuries. Barefoot driving can cause pain in your toes, ankle, and sole. This strain may not be a big deal at first. But when done repeatedly, foot pain can affect the quality of your life. Your productivity will drastically change. Plus, you cannot go wherever you like every weekend.

What are the Policies in Some States on Driving Barefoot?

It is legal to drive barefoot. But it is unsafe. Have you ever wondered how some states deal with barefoot driving? Don’t worry! You have come to the right place. In this section, you will learn the stance of a few states in the U.S. Take a close look at the following:

South Dakota

South Dakota is also thought that it's illegal to drive barefoot. But it is not. Wearing heels is preferred. Other shoes are also suitable/perfect as long as they fall under safe footwear.


Driving a motor vehicle without any shoes on is permitted and not illegal. However, motorcycle riders are an exception. As motorcycle drivers, it is advisable to use a comfy type of footwear. Although you have a hectic schedule, do not forget that your safety always matters.


Similar to other places in America, driving barefoot is not illegal in Virginia. It is not encouraged, however. For all drivers, safe and breathable footwear is a perfect addition to the closet. While it is enticing to take advantage of brands with an open heel, always consider other excellent alternatives. It is all right if you need to spend extra time finding the right choice. Remember that all your efforts would not go to waste.


Like the rest, driving without any safe footwear does not violate any local regulations. But once it leads to an accident or death of motorcycle drivers, you could be charged with reckless driving. What’s worse is that you might face expensive civil fines and imprisonment depending on the gravity of your case.


Reports say some drivers have more control over their car or brake pedal, particularly when driving barefoot compared to other shoes. Yes, it has been a practice for drivers for many decades as it's not illegal. But it would be challenging for first-timers. You will get used to it after some time. Unfortunately, we do not encourage you to drive barefoot.

Shoes That are More Dangerous Than Driving Barefoot

Most of us have a good sense of choosing the right pair of shoes for a specific activity like football and hiking. But let’s be honest. We fail to select comfortable shoes for driving our car. If you are in the same boat, remember that you are not alone. Many drivers can relate to that. However, that is not something we can be proud of. Gas pedals have a significant influence on the movement of any motor vehicle. Once you contact a pedal, objects like shoes can change how your car moves on the road. This could indicate that wearing inappropriate footwear can pose safety risks. So, what are the driving shoes you should avoid when going on a ride and are considered more dangerous than driving barefoot? Below are some of them:

Open-Heel Shoes

These shoes have gained immense popularity in the market. Over the past few years, people cannot help but switch to this footwear. We cannot blame them as backless shoes are comfortable, lightweight, and stylish sometimes. But any of these shoes, including clogs and slippers, can pose safety risks, especially while driving. Since your heel is not covered, your foot could slip out of the footwear unexpectedly, leaving it behind on the gas pedal. That’s why it would be hard and dangerous to regain control of the pedal. If you are not that attentive, you might be in trouble or get injured. However, this does not mean you will no longer wear these shoes. They are still perfect for home use though.


Another type of footwear to avoid when driving in flip-flops. Although some find it comfortable, that does not mean you would love it. Wearing flip-flops has also been a trend for men and women in the U.S. since their market launch. It is no wonder as flip-flops are versatile. You can wear them during a beach escapade or when running a quick errand. Flip-flops are more than that. They are breathable, convenient, comfortable, and relaxing. They give you more freedom. You can wiggle your toes after long hours of standing or walking. They also come in multiple designs and styles, making the selection process quick and seamless. Sadly, flip-flops can get caught under the accelerator or brake. Plus, they are easy to lose under your pedal because they are not well-fastened to your bare feet.

High Heels

You are invited to a formal gathering. Of course, you want to look good. Perhaps, you have already chosen stunning pieces of jewelry and a fashionable dress. What is missing? High heels can complete your desired look and boost your self-esteem. Once the event is over, and you are about to go home, make sure you avoid wearing high heels when driving as their design can affect the movement of your ankles and legs. Wear shoes generally recommended by responsible drivers instead. Always place other footwear in your car to drive safely and comfortably.

Dress Shoes

We usually wear a dress or formal shoes during occasions such as weddings, anniversaries, and birthday parties. More than the great durability, they are timeless and can give your fashion statement a boost. They also look expensive. Men’s and women’s dress shoes have leather soles made to withstand the test of time. Sad to say, these soles can be slippery, which is a big concern for people while driving. If you have new shoes and are tasked to drive, wear something different for everyone’s safety. Changing shoes might be time-consuming. Going to your destination safely is what matters the most, right? To save your time, ask a close friend to be your driver.

Shoes with Long Laces

Shoes with long laces have been a trend for years already. While they are stylish and comfy, they can cause you a headache, especially when driving. Due to their long lace, they can become entangled in your brake or accelerator pedal, making them complicated to operate and maneuver. Even if tied securely, the long lace might get loose, causing a severe accident and injury. After going to school, the mall, or the bar, be sure the laces are tied securely. It is also worth it to check them from time to time. You can also search for video tutorials on how to tie long laces without compromising style and appeal. There are many comprehensive videos to choose from.

Open-Toed Shoes

Last but not least is a pair of open-toed shoes. As the name indicates, these shoes feature an opening on the toe area. Just like flip-flops and other types of footwear in this list, open-toed shoes increase the risk of working to ensure their way under the accelerator or gas pedal. These are commonly called peep-toes. Wearing shoes like these open-toed ones for a long time can cause discomfort. So, take the time when you go home as an opportunity to give your bare feet a break. Use something made for driving. Although it may require additional costs, that’s all right.

What shoes to wear when driving

What Shoes to Wear When Driving

Since you cannot wear shoes with long laces or flip-flops, what should you use while you are on the road? Well, there are many suitable footwear options you can consider and try. So, how can you choose a pair of shoes that best suits your specific requirements and needs? Here are a few guidelines that you can follow, of course:

Direct your Attention to Shoes with a 10 mm Sole

Shoes with soles thicker than 10 mm can be a problem. While footwear with thicker soles can indicate higher quality and longer-lasting features, consider your comfort when driving. Yes, it might take some time to find brands with the right sole. But your efforts will be worth it.

The Sole Must Not be Either Too Thin or Soft

Wearing shoes super thin and soft is like driving barefoot. Even if they are lightweight and relaxing to our bare feet, they may not provide enough force on the brake pedal, affecting the movement of any motor vehicle. Also, shoes with thin soles are not as impact-resistant and sturdy as you imagine. Who wants to invest in shoes that do not last as long as they should? It’s inconvenient always to have working ensure tend to buy another pair unless you’re into collecting. Footwear with thick soles can give you some hassles when maneuvering your motor vehicle. Shoes with thin soles are no exception.

They Should Be Narrow

Have you ever experienced pressing two pedals at once before? How’s the experience? It’s perhaps one of the most terrifying things you can encounter. While there are many factors to blame, your wide pair of shoes might be the culprit. Although you did not have any intention to cause an accident, you might face charges for reckless driving unexpectedly. Those who have not paid costly fines because of careless driving do not wait for that time to come. If you are also a fan of shoes with a comprehensive design, wear narrow alternatives, particularly when driving. If you cannot find the right fit and design, ask some close friends for referrals.

They Should Have Enough Grip

There are multiple reasons a road accident takes place. Perhaps, it is due to a mechanical failure, like worn tires, tire blowouts, faulty brake lines, or engine failure. Human error or dangerous driving is another contributing factor. Texting, talking on the phone, reading, applying makeup, interacting with passengers, and daydreaming fall under distracted driving. Driving with shoes without enough grip may also be considered unsafe. Footwear with the proper grip will be your best bet. You can be sure your foot will not slip off the pedals.

Choose Options That are Not Too Heavy

Another factor to consider when looking for the best footwear is its weight. Wearing heavy shoes while driving might give you a hard time when slamming the brake and the accelerator properly. Light footwear is the same thing as your bare feet and might not provide enough force when braking. It is wise to invest in options that are not too heavy to avoid ankle injuries. How do you know whether your shoes are the right weight or not? You should be wary of the material used in the footwear. Out of the standard components in footwear, leather is heavy. But it is elastic and can resist abrasion or tearing. Lightweight alternatives to leather are rubber, foam, textiles, and other synthetics.

Can Driving Barefoot Affect Your Insurance Coverage?

People discourage barefoot driving. But it is not illegal. In an accident, the police and your insurance company can classify it as dangerous driving if they find out you drove barefoot. That could affect your auto insurance coverage. For those who don’t know, any insurance provider is keen to identify the reason behind the damage to your vehicle. Do not be surprised as it is a common procedure insurance companies follow and practice. Nevertheless, you should be alarmed as it can impact your premium. What’s worse is that driving barefoot could invalidate your insurance policy.

Motorcycle Laws on Driving Barefoot

Most municipalities do not have any particular law or regulations on driving barefoot. Alabama, on the other hand, is different. Motorcycle laws say that no person shall ride on any motor-driven cycle unless wearing the proper footwear. Alabama has implemented this law because of the growing number of related accidents or injuries. Like driving a car, riding a motorcycle barefoot is highly risky and may lead to death.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

What to do when your insurance is affected by driving barefoot?

One of the smartest things you can do is seek legal advice from an experienced car accident lawyer or personal injury lawyer near you. Remember that you are not alone in your fight to prove your innocence.

What other footwear should you take advantage of?

Any close-toed shoes are some alternatives you cannot afford to miss.

What if someone caused the accident and you were driving barefoot? What would happen?

There is nothing to be afraid of. The third-party will compensate for any broken glass and other damages. Also, your driver's ability will not be questioned. Even if it is not your fault, your insurance provider will still investigate for validation purposes.

What are some tips to legally drive and protect yourself from any serious accident?

While it is legal to drive barefoot, avoid driving without wearing something on your barefoot. That's the number one road safety tip you should not forget. It is also essential to develop the right attitude toward driving, use/apply your common sense, wear protective gear, limit your night driving. Keep it slow, drive a well-maintained vehicle, and train for any weather condition. Plus, frequent practice can help promote and enhance your driving ability. Driving barefoot might also be tempting, especially when you are running out of time. But think ahead. You can drive barefoot, but prepare yourself for something serious and terrible along the way.

What is the number one reason people think it is illegal to drive barefoot?

It is one of the primary causes of road accidents in the country.


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