Is It Illegal To Drive Barefoot?

Article Summary:

It is not illegal to drive a car barefoot in any of the 50 states, though it is illegal to drive a motorcycle barefoot in Alabama. With that said, whether driving barefoot is worthy of a ticket is still up to local jurisdictions and police discretion.

Imagine the following scenario: You’ve spent a day at the beach and are now ready to go home. As you get in the car, you feel the sand between your toes and realize you don’t want to ruin your shoes, so you debate driving barefoot.

Driving without shoes may seem harmless, but there are good reasons to avoid doing it. Barefoot driving can be more of a risk than you think, and in some jurisdictions, you may even be at risk of getting a ticket. But is driving barefoot actually illegal?

Is it illegal to drive barefoot?

At the federal level, it is not technically illegal to drive barefoot. While it may not be the smartest move, it is not against federal road laws to drive without shoes. This means that the legality of barefoot driving will often depend on state laws and local regulations.

The good news for anyone who wants to drive with bare feet is that there is no state law against barefoot driving in any of the 50 states. However, that doesn’t mean that local towns and counties aren’t allowed to make their own rules, so you may want to check your local laws before driving barefoot.

As of 2022, Alabama is the only state that will actually charge you for careless or reckless driving if you are caught driving barefoot, and even then, that only applies to cases of driving a motorcycle barefoot. Even in Alabama, car drivers do not have to wear shoes while they drive.

Pro Tip

In 2022, the strictest laws on barefoot driving are in Arkansas. It’s not illegal to drive barefoot, but police officers are allowed to issue tickets at their discretion, which can lead to civil fines.

Are there laws against wearing dangerous types of shoes while driving?

Believe it or not, barefoot driving isn’t the only risky choice drivers can make regarding the attire they wear behind the wheel. It can also be dangerous to drive in high heels, especially wedge heels.

However, most drivers are not as leery of heels as they are of bare feet. As a result, wearing shoes with high heels isn’t covered in state laws. That said, it’s not a good idea to drive while wearing inappropriate footwear, as it could still be dangerous.

A note about state laws on barefoot driving

While it is legal to drive barefoot in all 50 states, certain states made a point of noting that driving barefoot is dangerous. In Pennsylvania, Arizona, Arkansas, California, and Nevada, if you get into an accident while driving barefoot, you may face a reckless driving charge.

Many states — including Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio, Wyoming, Alaska, Iowa, Missouri, and Utah — have also stated that wearing shoes is safer. So while it’s not illegal to drive barefoot in these states, it’s not considered safe either.

Why it’s dangerous to drive barefoot (even if it’s legal)

Believe it or not, there isn’t much data available on how barefoot driving affects the rate of accidents. However, there are some valid reasons why many states note that driving barefoot is unsafe:

  • There is a lack of protection for your feet. If you accidentally hit your feet on the gas or brake pedals, you could potentially hurt yourself by stubbing your toe. This is bad enough when you’re simply walking, but hurting your foot while driving increases your chances of getting into an accident, especially if you’re driving a motorcycle.
  • Your feet alone do not have good traction on the pedals. It doesn’t take much for bare feet to slip off a gas or brake pedal. Slippery feet can easily turn into a safety risk, especially if you’re driving fast.
  • Lacking footwear may disrupt your muscle memory. Most drivers wear some kind of footwear while driving, even if they don’t always wear the same kind of shoes. When you drive barefoot, however, it changes the feeling of the pedals under your feet, which can disrupt your driving.
  • It’s harder to brake with bare feet. Driving barefoot means that you won’t have the same braking force that you’d get from wearing shoes. This can lead to delayed stops. Wearing shoes gives you more control over both the brake and the gas pedal.

Pro Tip

If you have wet or sandy feet, you are more likely to have trouble driving barefoot. This can make it harder to press your foot against the gas pedal or brake pedal without your feet slipping, which can lead to a bad accident that could have been prevented.

Barefoot driving laws by state

Below is a brief table detailing the formal notes on barefoot driving by state. If your state and its laws are not mentioned here, you can assume driving barefoot is legal there and that the state has no official stance on the matter.

StatePolicies and recommendations
AlabamaNot illegal for car drivers, but motorcycle riders must wear shoes
Arizona, Arkansas, California, NevadaNot illegal, but possible reckless driving charges or civil fines if you get in an accident
Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, WyomingNot illegal but considered unsafe
MichiganNot illegal; drivers are believed to have more control while barefoot than while wearing certain shoes
TennesseeNot illegal, but local regulations may prohibit barefoot driving
VirginiaNot illegal, but safe footwear without an open heel is encouraged
WisconsinNot illegal; driving barefoot is preferred to wearing heels or other unsafe footwear

The best types of shoes to drive in

For the sake of a safe driving record, it’s always smart to wear a good pair of driving shoes. But what constitutes safe footwear? This is where you need to exercise common sense, as there isn’t much data on the best driving shoes. However, these footwear guidelines can help you drive safely:

  • Driving in flip-flops may be worse than driving barefoot. Flip-flops may be chic summer wear, but while you’re driving, it’s easy for a flip-flop to catch on the pedal. This can cause a car accident if you’re not careful.
  • High heels are not a good choice either. Most dress shoes, while stylish, are highly impractical, which means that you might have a hard time getting a grip on the pedal. In the case of wedge heels and spike heels, you could also get the heel caught under the pedal.
  • Long laces can get trapped in the pedal. This scenario is highly unlikely, but still possible.
  • Proper footwear for driving is a pair of closed-toed shoes (or minimally open-toed shoes) with thick soles and good traction. These make it easy to maintain control of the brakes and gas. Most work boots serve as a solid pair of driving shoes.

Can driving barefoot impact your car insurance?

Auto insurance companies are not going to check if you’re driving with bare feet every day, but that doesn’t mean your insurance coverage won’t be impacted by barefoot driving. If you get a ticket for careless driving or reckless driving as a result of driving barefoot, your car insurance rates may increase.


Is it bad to drive barefoot?

Driving barefoot, while technically legal, is not safe, so you probably shouldn’t do it. In certain states, getting into a car accident while barefoot can lead to a negligent driving ticket. Even if you never get a ticket, driving barefoot is always a safety hazard, so it’s generally recommended to wear shoes while driving.

Is it illegal to drive with flip-flops?

It is not illegal to drive while wearing flip-flops in any state. However, some states note that it’s a bad idea, so you should avoid it if possible.

Is it illegal to drive without a shirt?

Believe it or not, it’s not illegal to drive shirtless in any state, regardless of the driver’s gender. However, this doesn’t mean it’s a smart idea. If being topless in public is against the law in your state, driving topless will still lead to an indecent exposure charge.

Key Takeaways

  • Technically speaking, driving barefoot is not illegal in any of the 50 states.
  • The only exception is in Alabama, where it is illegal to drive a motorcycle while barefoot.
  • In certain states, getting into an accident while driving barefoot can lead to a reckless or negligent driving charge.
  • Certain towns and localities may also give you a ticket for barefoot driving, forcing you to face civil fines.
  • It’s always best to wear close-toed shoes with solid soles when driving.

What you wear (or don’t wear) on your feet is only one consideration of the driving experience. If you want to learn more about driving, you can read our guides to know more about whether you can buy a car without a license, if you can insure a car that’s not in your name, or how you can get better gas mileage.

If you’re a new driver just getting your license, you may want to look into buying a good used car. Read our guide on how to find the best deal on used cars, and use our comparison tools to find auto loans and auto insurance policies that are right for you.

View Article Sources
  1. Is it illegal to drive barefoot? –
  2. Alabama Code Title 32. Motor Vehicles and Traffic § 32-5A-245 – Alabama State Legislature
  3. Is It Illegal to Drive Barefoot in Your State? –
  4. Is It Illegal to Drive Barefoot In Your Car? – Metromile