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Illegal to Drive Barefoot?

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on May 23, 2012 9:03 AM

Is it illegal to drive barefoot? This question pops up from time to time on our FindLaw Answers traffic law forum, and may be on drivers' minds as summer approaches.

The short answer is no: There are no federal or state laws that prohibit driving a car without shoes. But state laws may be different for other types of motor vehicles like motorcycles. And local jurisdictions may also put their foot down when it comes to driving barefoot.

While driving a car barefoot may technically be legal, law enforcement officers generally don't recommend it because of safety concerns. For example:

  • Driving barefoot could make it more difficult to drive. "We don't recommend it because your feet can slip off the gas pedal," a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles told the Naples Daily News.
  • Barefoot drivers' discarded footwear could also possibly get stuck under a car's pedals, impairing the ability to brake or accelerate.

In addition, if a barefoot driver gets in an accident, he could possibly be cited for reckless driving if police determine that being barefoot somehow contributed to the crash.

When it comes to motorcycles, however, some states do explicitly require footwear -- not just for drivers, but passengers as well. For example, Alabama law states, "No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle unless he is wearing shoes."

Other states like California, however, do allow motorcyclists to go barefoot. "We obviously don't recommend it, but there's no law against it," a California Highway Patrol spokesman told the Los Angeles Times.

While state laws may not make it illegal to drive barefoot, local lawmakers may enact laws against it. Check with your local jurisdiction, or consult an attorney to make sure it's legal to put the pedal to the metal without putting on your shoes.

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