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Is It Illegal to Drive in Flip Flops?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

When summer arrives, that means it's time to get a tan on those toes, no matter what the hoity-toity fashion folks from New York City say. It's hot out there and no one likes the smell of sweaty feet. Plus, more and more of us are working from home, so throwing on a pair of slips, slaps, or slippers (as they're known in some parts of the world) can be a sensible sartorial choice.

But what about in the car? While driving barefoot isn't illegal, it does come with safety risks. Is the same true for driving in flip flops?

The Statutes

There are no driving laws that we know of that prohibit people from driving in flip flops. While drivers are required to operate vehicles in a safe and responsible manner, states don't list acceptable and unacceptable footwear in their traffic statutes. So tooling around town in your thong sandals is perfectly legal, so long as you don't cause an accident or violate any other traffic laws.

"It actually is legal to drive barefoot or with flip-flops," California Highway Patrol Officer Raymus Payton told the Orange County Register. "I've pulled over quite a few people, and I've seen some pretty interesting shoes -- like very high heels or platforms -- and they'd probably be better off driving barefoot than in those shoes."

The Safety Concerns

But just because it's legal doesn't mean it's a great idea. The Virginia DMV recently warned drivers not to wear flip flops behind the wheel. "Our employees see it all the time," said Richard D. Holcomb, DMV Commissioner. "Our customer service representatives who conduct road tests have seen flip-flops and sandals come off and get stuck under the gas or brake pedal. Fortunately, we have not had any tragic situations, but that is what we are trying to prevent."

And a 2013 study showed ten percent of drivers have gotten a flip flop stuck underneath a pedal while driving, and driving with flip flops could be more dangerous than wearing high heels. Research demonstrated drivers wearing flip flops were 0.13 seconds slower applying the brakes than those with normal footwear, which may not sound like a lot of time, but it could mean a 30-foot difference if you're traveling 60 miles per hour.

So enjoy flip flop season everyone -- just do it responsibly. And if you do get into an accident, wearing flips lops or any other footwear, get in touch with an experienced attorney who can help you with any legal claims.

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