If you drive for many years, you will probably see some odd behaviors while you are out on the road. You may see people singing along at full volume with old songs on the radio. Maybe you’ll see someone chomping down on a burger while driving 80 miles per hour on the highway.
You may also notice someone driving while not wearing any shoes. You can’t see that they’re barefoot while they’re driving, but they might exit a car from the driver’s side, and you’ll see they have no shoes on.
That might cause you some consternation. After all, this person might not operate their car very well without shoes. You may wonder about this action’s legality as well.
We’ll discuss barefoot driving in detail right now.
Can You Legally Drive Barefoot?
Let’s answer the most obvious question first. Barefoot driving in any state does not break any explicit law. No state has a law on the books saying that you must have footwear on if you’re operating a motor vehicle.
However, that does not necessarily mean that the police or a judge can’t take action against you if they determine that you drove barefoot. For instance, let’s look at Pennsylvania. There, the courts can penalize you $500 for careless driving, and you can get three points on your license.
If the police pull you over in Pennsylvania and say they saw you driving erratically, they might do a breathalyzer test. They may ask whether you’ve consumed any other drugs. If you’re sober, but they see that you have no shoes on, they might ticket you for that.
While they can’t penalize you for barefoot driving specifically, as that’s not illegal, they can claim that you couldn’t drive as well because you’re not wearing shoes. You’ll have to argue whether that’s true in court, or you can always just pay the fine without contesting it if you’d prefer that.
It can save you a courtroom appearance, but you must give up that money, and you’ll get those points on your license as well.
What About Other Problems if You Drive Barefoot?
If you cause an accident while driving barefoot, a police officer might go after you and try citing you with a more serious penalty. Staying in Pennsylvania, they might say you drove recklessly.
That’s like careless driving but more severe. If you drove recklessly and you caused an accident, you can face a bigger fine, and a judge might even suspend your license if they feel your actions warrant that.
Also, if you drive barefoot and hit another car, a pedestrian in a crosswalk, a cyclist, etc., you might incur a civil action against you. The cyclist, pedestrian, or whoever else you hit might sue you, and if they can prove that you drove barefoot, they’ll likely win.
That’s because, in civil cases, the duty of care usually comes into play. The duty of care means you had a duty to drive carefully and responsibly.
If you’re not wearing shoes, the opposing lawyer might successfully claim that you didn’t show the proper care duty. Maybe there’s no specific law that says you must wear shoes while driving, but if you drove barefoot and you hit someone, the plaintiff’s lawyer can likely say you didn’t follow a societal expectation to wear shoes while operating a vehicle.
You might pay a severe penalty in these cases. You can face criminal and civil charges.
What Should You Learn from All This?
For the most part, people understand that if they drive without wearing shoes, they’re asking for trouble. Slipping your shoes on takes just a moment, even if you’re putting on some flip-flops and visiting the corner store a block away.
If you don’t wear shoes, and you cause no accidents, then probably, no one will even notice. If you get into this habit, though, and you cause a collision one day, you can feel sure the police and the court system won’t like it very much. Also, if the vehicle’s driver who you hit notices, they might take legal action using that detail.
Putting on your shoes takes almost no effort, and it can save you a lot of headaches. You might think driving without shoes constitutes cute or charming behavior, but a judge certainly will not.
You might end up with a suspended license, points on your license, a fine, etc. Avoid all of that by putting on your shoes.