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Last updated: March 9, 2023

Is It Illegal to Drive Barefoot?

Can you get into legal trouble for slipping off those shoes before you hit the pedal?

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“No shirt, no shoes, no service.” You’ve probably seen or heard this phrase if you’ve ever tried to go to a restaurant near the beach in your bathing suit. Businesses are generally allowed to establish dress codes, while others have health regulations in place that mean going shoeless is a no-no. But is driving barefoot in the U.S. illegal or merely frowned upon? More importantly, is driving barefoot safe?

Is It Illegal to Drive Barefoot?

State Laws

It is legal to drive barefoot in every state in the U.S., plus the District of Columbia. However, laws differ regarding local ordinances, so you may or may not get a ticket for driving barefoot. It all depends on where exactly you’re driving.

Driving Motorcycles Barefoot

Only one state requires motorcyclists to wear shoes: Alabama. Not wearing shoes while driving a motorcycle is a general offense with a $10 fee, according to the state’s Supreme Court.1 However, for all drivers of passenger vehicles in Alabama and elsewhere, you can drive barefoot legally at the state and federal levels.

What Happens If You Get Caught?

If you are caught driving a car without shoes on, police cannot write you up for this alone, as it’s not an offense — at least in places without local ordinances that ban barefooted driving. However, if you get into a car accident while driving barefoot, your auto insurance company may consider you a reckless or negligent driver in the accident and refuse to cover your losses.

How This Myth Came to Be

It’s not entirely clear how this auto insurance myth that barefoot driving is illegal came to be, but since wearing shoes in public is a social norm, that standard might extend to one’s car. Policies like “no shirt, no shoes, no service” may have influenced this myth as well.


Do men pay more for car insurance than women? Does every state require car insurance? Do you need to buy extra insurance for a rental car? Find the answers in the second installment of our series on car insurance myths.

Is Driving Without Shoes Dangerous?

Driving without shoes is dangerous because it can cause more slippage on the pedals, especially if it’s rainy or snowy out. Slipping on the gas pedal or brakes could be a safety hazard that results in an at-fault accident.

Driving Shoes 101

The Benefits of Wearing Shoes While Driving

Wearing shoes while driving helps your feet slip less so you maintain better control over the car. Additionally, since most commercial establishments require shoes, it’s nice to already have them on when you reach your destination. You will also avoid getting your feet dirty on the brake pedals.

Are Some Shoes More Dangerous Than Driving Barefoot?

Some types of footwear — like flip-flops, high heels, and slippers — may be worse to wear than driving barefoot, however. For example, flip-flops or any open-toed shoe that shows your feet can fall off and become wedged under the pedals.2 Socks and slippers may be slippery, and chunky, pointy high heels, boots, or wedge heels aren’t safe, either.

The Best Shoes for Driving

The best type of shoe for driving a motor vehicle should meet the following requirements:

  • Be close-toed
  • Be flat
  • Have good traction on the bottom
  • Have short laces
  • Not get in the way of your driving

Is Driving Barefoot Reckless or Negligent?

If you’re in a car accident while driving barefoot, your insurance provider may see it as reckless or negligent, which could affect your settlement. Learn more about auto insurance claims and how they work.

What to Do If You Drive Barefoot and …

… You’re Stopped by a Police Officer

Although no state has made driving barefoot illegal, local ordinances may have done so. Depending on where you’re driving, you could be fined for being behind the wheel without shoes. If you’re stopped by police, follow their instructions and do not argue with them. Once you are able, contact a traffic attorney to discuss your rights.

… You Have a Car Accident

As with any car crash, never admit fault. Call the police; exchange information with the other party; and take pictures, videos, and notes to submit as evidence in your claim.

… You Need to File a Car Insurance Claim

File a car insurance claim the way you would with any accident, regardless of your footwear (or lack thereof). Keep in mind that even with the best auto insurance companies, your provider could deny your claim due to your bare feet at the time of the accident.3


In states with contributory negligence laws like Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia, plus the District of Columbia, you cannot receive any compensation if you’re found to be even partially negligent in an accident.4


No matter how comfortable being barefoot is for you, be sure to slip on some close-toed shoes before you drive for safety reasons. At the very least, it’ll give your insurance company one less reason to deem you reckless or negligible in an accident, which could increase your settlement amount. Learn more about defensive driving and the best ways you can avoid being in a car accident.


  1. Order. Supreme Court of Alabama. (2021, Dec 16).

  2. Best Way to Drive: In Shoes, Socks or Barefoot? Interactive Education Concepts. (2023).

  3. Is it Illegal to Drive Barefoot? FindLaw. (2022, Aug 22).

  4. Contributory Negligence. Legal Information Institute from Cornell Law School. (2023).