You just finished enjoying a glorious summer day out on the lake. The day was filled with swimming, boating, and fishing. Now that it’s time to go home, you hop in the car, still clad in your beach attire. That includes not wearing any shoes. Your passengers look down at your feet and exclaim, “You’d better put on some shoes before you start driving or you might get a ticket!” But, is it illegal to drive barefoot?
Actually, no- it is not illegal to drive barefoot in any state. There is no federal law either. This may be surprising to some people, especially since it is one of the most frequently referenced myths related to driving offenses. However, it is true. In some states like Alabama, there are laws against driving or riding on a motorcycle while barefoot, but the laws say nothing about driving a car.
Advocates of the practice argue that you have better control over the pedals when driving barefoot. You don’t have to worry about a stiff or slippery sole getting in the way of your ability to drive safely. State lawmakers, on the other hand, generally take the opposing view. While there are no laws preventing it, many states explicitly recommend wearing shoes while driving. For example, the Virginia DMV released a statement on the issue in 2012. It said, “Driving in bare feet, socks, or stockings can also be dangerous causing your feet to slip off the gas or brake pedals. While wearing certain types of footwear while driving or driving barefoot is not illegal, vehicle control can be compromised, and it is not recommended.”
Even though there are no state laws, local jurisdictions could have their own requirements for drivers. So, before you take off those shoes, check your local city or county government regulations to see if it is legal in your area. Your locale may even ban flip-flops, high heels or other shoes that could hinder your driving. That’s because there have been instances in which improper shoes caused problems for drivers. For example, in New York in 2011, a driver had a flip-flop fall off and become stuck under the pedals while driving. As a result, she became distracted, drove off the road toward a church, and hit and killed three women. If you are unsure of your local laws, you could also call an attorney to find out more information.
If you plan to drive without shoes, be safe about your choice. Place those discarded shoes somewhere other than near your feet. If you don’t, it may be possible for your shoe to get stuck under the pedals and impede your ability to brake or accelerate. Be aware that if you get into an accident while driving barefoot, the opposing party could claim that you were engaging in reckless driving behaviors and hold you accountable for the crash.
Additionally, keep a pair of dry, flat shoes in your car for driving. In the summer, you may be inclined to wear sandals or flip-flops. If you are attending an event, you may want to have on high heels. In the winter, you may have on stiff boots or have shoes that are wet from the snow. By having an alternative pair of shoes ready in the car, you will hopefully be able to avoid having your shoes slip off or get stuck under the pedals.
Finally, have the right car insurance. Speak to an independent agent to make sure that you have the right amount of protection, should an incident occur. If not, you could be financially on-the-hook for medical payments, property damage, and legal fees. Car insurance can provide you with peace of mind and help you to maintain that car you love. If you are driving barefoot and have an accident, show other drivers that you are not a reckless person and that you have prepared yourself for any eventuality by having the right insurance policy.
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