Is It Illegal To Drive Barefoot?

A barefoot female driver.

Many individuals speculate that driving barefoot is illegal, but what are the facts? Is there any truth to this idea, or is it just a myth with no basis? Would it be illegal for you to kick off your shoes and drive without them?

If you have questions about driving barefoot, we’ve got you covered. Here we’ll cover the various state laws regarding being barefoot behind the wheel. You will find out which states allow it and which do not, so that you can stay informed and drive safely, no matter where your travels take you!

Is It Illegal To Drive Barefoot In Your State?

A motorist being spoken to by the police about driving barefoot.

It is remarkable how the misconception that it is illegal to drive without shoes came about, although there are a few plausible explanations for this. Many people wear shoes when driving, so one may incorrectly assume that the law requires them to do so. Additionally, police departments in America usually advise against driving barefoot or wearing inappropriate footwear while on the road.

Despite the fact that a majority of law enforcement officers oppose driving without shoes, there are not any laws prohibiting it. So then, is it unlawful to operate a motor vehicle while barefoot?

Even though there are no laws that say drivers can’t drive without shoes, eight states have made suggestions that strongly suggest you shouldn’t. Research reveals that barefoot driving is legal throughout the United States, with only a few exceptions. So if you plan to drive shoeless in any of these 50 states, be sure to check local regulations before hitting the road!

Despite the fact that Wyoming, Iowa, Indiana, and Ohio permit barefoot driving, these states strongly advise drivers to wear specialized footwear while operating a motor vehicle due to its potential danger. Unfortunately, though, there is no explanation of why such recommendations are made in those four states specifically.

Ohio has made it clear that in the event of a car accident where driving shoeless is an element, police officers can declare you negligent for failing to “utilize reasonable caution.” Subsequently, you may face reckless driving charges.

Driving without shoes can have substantial repercussions in Alabama, Nevada, and Arizona. If you’re involved in a car accident while barefoot, you will be prosecuted. In Arkansas, however, law enforcement has the power to decide whether or not your choice of footwear amounts to negligence and a traffic citation; they may even revoke your license temporarily if it’s an ongoing issue.

Though outlawed in some states, driving without shoes or sandals is considered safe driving compared to wearing certain types of shoes. The Missouri Highway Patrol recommends that motorists drive barefoot for safety reasons over using wedges, and the Kansas and Minnesota police departments similarly prefer it as well. Wearing wedges makes it difficult to operate a car safely due to its instability while pressing the pedals.

Flip-flops, mules, wedges, slip-on sandals, high heels, and dress shoes with slippery soles are some examples of footwear that may be hazardous when driving. The Michigan State Police even goes as far as to suggest that the notion of recklessness or carelessness in driving while barefoot might be an exaggeration.

Although some states remain uncertain about the legality of driving barefoot, Tennessee has left its decision to local governments. As a result, be sure to check your state’s traffic laws for confirmation on whether or not it is permitted. Don’t take any chances, and ensure that you can drive without worry.

Let’s take a look at the 50 states’ stance on driving with no shoes:

Driving Barefoot Laws By State

State Is Driving Barefoot Illegal?
Alabama No, but the driver will be charged with reckless driving if it leads to a crash.
Alaska No.
Arizona No. But you will get charged if your choice of footwear (or being barefooted) causes an accident.
Arkansas No, but police officers can rely on their discretion to issue you a ticket if they believe that your driving barefoot has caused you to drive carelessly.
California No, but if driving barefoot leads to an accident, it may get you cited.
Colorado No.
Connecticut No.
Delaware No.
District of Columbia No.
Florida No.
Georgia No.
Hawaii No.
Idaho No.
Illinois No.
Indiana No, but you will likely get a ticket if an accident occurs when driving barefoot.
Iowa No, but considers it very unsafe.
Kansas No. In fact, they prefer you drive barefoot to wearing footwear that may interfere with your driving. This includes sandals, flip-flops, and high heels.
Kentucky No.
Louisiana No.
Maine No, but if the fact that you drive barefoot distracts you or leads to a loss of control of the vehicle, you’ll likely be sanctioned.
Maryland No.
Massachusetts No.
Michigan No. The state laws even consider the idea that driving barefoot is not safe as a “stretch.”
Minnesota No. There is a preference for driving barefoot over wearing flip-flops at the wheel.
Mississippi No. Consider it better than putting on wedges and uncomfortable footwear.
Missouri No.
Montana No.
Nebraska No.
Nevada No.
New Hampshire No.
New Jersey No.
New Mexico No. But authorities think it might not be smart for a driver to be barefoot because it means they aren't taking all the safety precautions they need to.
New York No.
North Carolina No.
North Dakota No. Nonetheless, if a police officer thinks you’re “distracted” due to driving barefoot, you can be cited.
Ohio No, but it doesn’t recommend it. In fact, if driving barefoot plays any part in a car accident, you can be charged for failing to exercise due care.
Oklahoma No.
Oregon No.
Pennsylvania No, but you can get a reckless driving charge if driving barefoot factors in an accident.
Rhode Island No.
South Carolina No.
South Dakota No.
Tennessee No. However, each local government has its own regulations on the issue of driving barefoot.
Texas No.
Utah No, but the Highway Patrol in the Beehive State recommends that drivers let “common sense” prevail, admonishing them to put on shoes. They feel it is less complicated and safer to operate the vehicle when wearing shoes.
Vermont No.
Virginia No, but it strongly encourages motorists to put on “safe footwear,” especially those that don’t expose the heels, like sandals and flip-flops. They also discourage driving barefoot because it can interfere with the ability to control the vehicle seamlessly.
Washington No, but you can still get a ticket if driving barefoot facilitates car accidents.
West Virginia No.
Wisconsin No.
Wyoming No. However, the authorities don’t think it’s the safest way to operate a motor vehicle.


In general, while driving laws permit you to go barefoot, there are states where you need to exercise caution when you want to do so.

Possible Dangers Of Barefoot Driving

Bare feet on a car's pedals.

While some people may believe that driving barefoot is safe, police officers in at least eight states have identified it as a potential safety concern. Furthermore, many more state governments warn drivers to be cautious when considering this practice. The primary fear stems from the fact that a lack of footwear can reduce a driver’s ability to maintain control over their vehicle, whether it be through reduced grip or decreased reaction time and flexibility on the pedals. Here are a few examples:

— Braking & Clutch Control Risks

Going barefoot while driving may make it more difficult to control the brake or gas pedal. Consider the situation where you need to step firmly on your brake pedal to avoid a sudden crash. Wearing shoes will not only be more comfortable, but it will also protect your feet from the hard surface of the pedals.

On the flip side, if your feet are exposed and unprotected, you can end up with painful injuries. This could cause reflexes that would lead to a lack of control over the vehicle, and potentially hazardous results.

The friction between the gas pedal and firm shoes like boots or driving shoes gives you much more control and keeps your feet from slipping off the pedals during long drives. On the other hand, if you drive with your feet out in the open, rain or sweat could make your soles wet, which could lead to a bad accident. It is for precisely this reason that having a secure grip on the pedal through correct shoe wear is imperative for reaching your destination in one piece!

— Foot Injuries

Unprotected feet while driving can be hazardous, as they are particularly vulnerable to harm. For instance, pressing the soles on the brake pedals may cause injuries that could lead to risky reflexes and reactions when behind the wheel.

Not to mention, there is no safeguard against inadvertently snagging one’s toes between the narrow edges of the pedals, a slip-up that may lead to potentially dangerous consequences.

Furthermore, having to drive for extended distances with uncovered feet can lead to blisters, which are both painful and hinder the driver’s focus. This raises major safety issues that cannot be ignored.

— Municipality Laws

Regarding the state laws surrounding driving barefoot, not every state is on board. Tennessee, for instance, has left a majority of this legislation up to the local laws in the county and municipal governments, which makes following local ordinances iffy in some states. Your best bet when operating any motor vehicle is to always wear shoes.

— Law Enforcement Issues

Although it is not illegal in any state, police officers can use their discretion when it comes to driving barefoot. In fact, in some states, you could be charged with reckless driving.

So, if a police officer thinks that driving barefoot makes it hard for you to pay attention or was the cause of a car accident, you could be cited.

— Insurance Problems

Driving without shoes can lead to serious consequences if you’re involved in a car accident. If the insurance company finds that driving barefoot was a contributing factor, they may deny your claims altogether and can even go as far as labeling your behavior “reckless driving,” which will likely result in sky-high premiums on any future insurance policy through current or future insurance companies.

In the end, if your insurer believes that the situation is extreme, they may opt to cancel your auto insurance policy.

Barefoot Laws For Motorcycle Drivers

Most of the states in our nation do not forbid riding a motorcycle barefoot; there are only a few where this has been legislated as prohibited. When no laws ban this practice, technically speaking, you can ride your bike with bare feet, though we don’t necessarily recommend it!

Despite the backlash from state legislatures, only Alabama has made it illegal to drive a motorcycle without shoes. According to its Vehicles and Traffic Act, anyone within the jurisdiction of this state is prohibited by law from operating or riding a motorcycle while barefoot due to numerous adverse risks associated with such an activity. Further details as to why are included below.

— Significantly More Uncomfortable 

Experts caution motorcycle riders to never drive without shoes, as it can lead to a heightened level of discomfort. Motorcycles require greater foot control than other motor vehicles; thus, drivers must be sure that their feet are adequately protected for the duration of their ride.

Your feet perform many essential functions, from using the gear shifter to engaging the rear brake pedals and securing stability when stopping. For this reason, leaving your feet exposed (especially the soles) can be hazardous.

— Lack Of Protection 

Motorcycling can be dangerous because the rider’s body is out in the open. Helmets are required in most states to help keep riders safe. Nonetheless, this doesn’t fully ensure full protection from an accident. Motorcycle accidents are more dangerous than car accidents because impact injuries are more likely to happen. This shows how important it is for riders to wear the right protective gear while on the road, including footwear.

— Sore Or Injured Feet 

Riding a motorcycle with bare feet can be incredibly uncomfortable and hazardous. Not only do pedals and other bike parts not cushion your soles, but constantly pressing against them will cause blisters and other skin damage. If you want to use your feet while driving, it’s best to invest in some sturdy shoes or boots that are specifically designed for motorcycling.

— Dangerous Sections Of The Bike

Although your car’s interior may be designed to offer a relaxed atmosphere, most motorcycles are anything but. With exposed parts like the exhaust that become dangerously hot after driving for an extended period of time, you run the risk of accidentally scorching yourself should you place a foot in its vicinity, an experience nobody enjoys!

Rules On Driving In Flip-Flops

While it might not be recommended, there are no laws in any US state that prevent drivers from wearing flip-flops or fancy footwear such as high heels. Although this type of footwear may constitute driving barefoot for some, you won’t face legal repercussions if you decide to drive with them on your feet.

Across the board, many believe that driving in flip-flops is unacceptable. Even more so, Missouri, Minnesota, and Kansas have gone as far as to say that it’s better for people to drive barefoot than with these types of shoes. It just isn’t worth the risk!

Although wearing flip-flops may be legal, you could face hefty consequences if involved in a car accident. As an example, in New York, infractions can incur fines of up to $500, whereas in California, drivers might expect to receive three months of imprisonment and pay a fine of $1,000 for the same offense.

Driving while wearing flip-flops is a dangerous activity that police officers often discourage. This footwear tends to be loose around the feet and can easily slip off, creating distractions for drivers who move their feet around. Additionally, parts of the sandal or flip-flop may get stuck in crucial areas of a car’s pedals; this not only puts you at risk but could result in costly fines as well.

Studies have revealed the astonishing danger of driving with the wrong footwear. Shockingly, 10% of drivers in flip-flops got their feet trapped below their pedals! Furthermore, research has demonstrated that those who drove while wearing sandals took twice as long in reaction time compared to someone wearing shoes. On top of that, thousands of accidents happen every year because drivers can’t press down properly on their gas or brake pedals because their shoes didn’t fit right.

Insurance Coverage When Driving Barefoot

Driving barefoot is not illegal, so your auto insurance company will cover any issues that may arise as a result of it; after all, you’re following the law. As long as you observe legal requirements while on the road, you can rest assured knowing your insurer has got your back!

Even though driving barefoot is a potential cause of a car accident, it may not be covered by your car insurance policy. If the insurance company reasonably finds that you are being irresponsible behind the wheel with no shoes on, they could adjust your premiums accordingly or even void your contract entirely. So, if you’re thinking about whether or not to drive barefoot, you should be careful and think about any extra risks that might come with it.

Are There Any Benefits To Driving Barefoot?

Despite its adverse consequences, driving barefoot has some surprising advantages. Some people claim that it enables you to drive better and with a keener sense of leg control due to the lack of any hindrance from footwear. This means your feet can easily be maneuvered around for a faster response time while on the road.

Moreover, it is far more comfortable, as your feet are unrestricted and have proper ventilation.

The Bottom Line

Although you may feel more comfortable driving barefoot, it is important to note that this practice comes with inherent risks. In many states across the country, state laws contain disclaimers and warnings against engaging in such activities when operating a vehicle. More importantly, if you were to cause a car accident while driving without shoes on your feet, there could be legal ramifications that follow suit.

Motorcycles are a separate matter. Some states have completely outlawed being barefoot while operating a motorcycle, and those that don’t, strongly disapprove of it. To be on the safe side, it’s best to steer clear of such precarious predicaments.

Ultimately, it is highly recommended to avoid wearing flip-flops while driving. It’s best to always keep a pair of reliable driving shoes in your car for this reason alone. Authorities don’t let people drive with flip-flops on because they can easily cause accidents on the road.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does driving barefoot affect the driver and the people in the car?

Driving without shoes might not provoke any issues for drivers and passengers, but there are some cases in which it could potentially lead to a hazardous situation.

Without proper footwear, the ability to manage and control a vehicle’s pedals is greatly hindered. Not only does this decrease navigational abilities, but it may also lead to hazardous accidents if any complications arise with these components.

Also, the driver and other people in the car could get in trouble with the law if police think that driving barefoot was a distraction. Police officers can issue fines for such offenses as reckless driving or failure to exercise due care.

Furthermore, driving for extended periods of time can cause aching feet. Additionally, if any incident occurs due to not wearing shoes while behind the wheel, your insurance provider may deny compensation, claiming that it was your fault.

When was it first made illegal to drive barefoot?

In the United States, driving barefoot is not a crime; there isn’t even a nationwide statute on this subject. Most states have yet to pass legislation that restricts or prohibits it completely. Therefore, if you’re wondering whether going barefoot while behind the wheel is legal in your state,  it likely won’t land you in any legal trouble!

Also, it’s important to remember that some states let county and city governments decide if driving barefoot is legal or not.

Is it illegal to drive without shoes?

Contrary to popular belief, you are not breaking any laws if you drive barefoot. All fifty states legally permit driving without shoes, so there is no need to worry about being penalized for doing so.

Despite this, some states believe that driving barefoot is too dangerous and advise against it. These warnings make a great deal of sense: with no shoes on, you have less control over the pedals.

Driving without shoes can put you in a precarious position with city laws and law enforcement. Furthermore, your insurance company may deem it irresponsible driving and refuse to cover any expenses incurred from an accident caused by that behavior. So, if you don’t want to risk getting fined or having to pay for damage yourself, you shouldn’t drive a car without shoes on.