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Is It Illegal To Drive Barefoot?

Is It Illegal To Drive Barefoot?

After a tiring day of wearing heels or dress shoes, a driver may be tempted to slide off their footwear and drive home barefoot. Traffic attorneys often hear the question: Is it illegal to drive barefoot? For the answer to this and other questions regarding Virginia traffic laws, call Driving Defense Law at (757) 929-0335 to schedule a consultation. 

In Which States Is Driving Barefoot Illegal?

Is it illegal to drive barefoot? While there are no laws against the practice, it may not be entirely safe. Every state has regulations in place to ensure the safety of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians on the road. Along with the other 49 states, Virginia does not have traffic laws specifically prohibiting barefoot driving. Still, it is essential to remember that driving without footwear can increase the risk of accidents.

Some believe that driving barefoot is more dangerous than driving with shoes. While a driver may not receive a ticket exclusively for driving barefoot, a citation could be issued if an accident occurs. While there is no law against barefoot driving, negligence laws come into play if an accident occurs due to a driver failing to exercise reasonable care. If a driver’s decision to drive barefoot leads to an accident, they could be found at fault for the collision under the Code of Virginia Code of Virginia § 8.01-34.

Will Driving Barefoot Affect Your Insurance Policy?

Many drivers may be concerned about being held legally responsible for something. Importantly, however, even activities that might not be illegal could affect an insurance claim. Some activities like eating or drinking while driving are legally permitted, but they can still be distracting and potentially lead to an accident. In some situations, the appearance of inattention could lead to an insurance company denying a claim, especially if the driver has been deemed at fault for the accident. Insurance companies have significant incentives to avoid paying out for a claim, and contending that a driver was not behaving responsibly while at the wheel can provide just such an opportunity. 

Why Driving Barefoot Is Not Recommended

Many activities that are not illegal may nonetheless be ill-advised. Driving barefoot is not recommended for several reasons:

Lack of Traction

Driving barefoot can reduce traction, as the driver’s feet directly interact with the pedals. This effect may be heightened in wet or slippery conditions, and can make it difficult to maintain vehicle control. Without the proper footwear while driving, you may be unable to apply the right amount of force on the brake pedal. Uncertain or uneven contact with the pedal can cause delayed or less effective braking, leading to accidents or collisions.

Increased Risk of Injury

Going barefoot in the car could increase the chances of experiencing a foot injury during an accident. Shoes can protect the feet from becoming injured from debris or sharp items on the floor. 

Limited Sensation

Shoes may provide an additional layer of cushioning when driving. However, it could be more challenging for someone to manage their driving motions without shoes. Even though driving barefoot may not be against the law, it can cause distractions. The vibrations, texture, and temperature of the pedals may cause the driver to lose focus on the road. 

Although it may not be against the law to drive barefoot in Virginia, wearing shoes while driving is a recommended practice for improving the driver’s personal safety and control of the vehicle. Closed-toe shoes with good traction and support are ideal for safe driving, as they offer the necessary grip, protection, and proprioceptive feedback to guarantee a secure driving experience. A knowledgeable Virginia traffic law lawyer at Defensive Driving Law may be able to give you more tips for safe driving practices. 

Driving With Various Types of Footwear

What about driving in sandals, heels, and socks? While in casual conversation the term “shoe” may be applied to any footwear that places a barrier between the sole of the foot and the ground during walking, in many formal contexts “shoe” traditionally means an item with a rigid sole and an upper that completely covers the foot. In determining the safest options for what to wear at the wheel, drivers need to consider not only whether to wear shoes, but which shoes to wear. 

Flip-Flops and Open-Toe Sandals

Many safety experts agree that sandals (or flip-flops) can lead to accidents on the road. This type of footwear does not secure the foot in the same way as a traditional closed-toe shoe. Flip-flops or thong-style sandals can easily slip off the foot and may get stuck under the gas or brake pedal, preventing the driver from fully controlling or maneuvering the vehicle. Once again, if a car accident occurred while the driver found to be at fault was wearing flip-flops, that individual may be accused of careless driving.

High Heels

High heels could be considered another type of hazardous footwear. Virginia has no law prohibiting them while behind the wheel, but they are not the safest option. Heels can prevent the drivers from making contact with the vehicle’s floor, and may make it difficult for the driver to position their foot at the correct angle to operate the pedals. In a situation that requires a sudden stop, the driver could miss the intended pedal, or make contact with the incorrect one. In addition, high heels often have slippery soles that may not provide a sufficient amount of grip.


Like driving barefoot, driving in socks is not illegal. Also like driving barefoot, driving in socks and causing an accident may lead to consequences. Some safety experts suggest that driving in socks could be more hazardous than barefoot driving. Socks can hold moisture, leading to a poor grip on the pedal. As a result, if an accident occurs, the driver could be liable for any damages or injuries.

What Happens if an Accident Occurred While Driving Barefoot

As in any accident, the driver must seek medical help and contact the proper authorities. Leaving the scene of an accident could result in criminal charges, pursuant to the Code of Virginia Chapter 8 § 46.2-894. Drivers are also advised to obtain all the relevant information, such as witness statements and accident reports. A driver who was barefoot should never admit fault at the accident scene. When that happens, it may have implications for the direction of the case. 

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Virginia

Is it illegal to drive barefoot in Virginia? The simple answer is no, but barefoot driving can nonetheless lead to serious consequences under the right circumstances. Causing an accident while driving barefoot could mean facing accusations of careless driving and leave the barefoot driver vulnerable to costly lawsuits. In addition, insurance companies may refuse to settle a claim if the driver was barefoot behind the wheel. Wearing the correct type of footwear can help to prevent these hassles down the road. If you have been involved in an accident while driving barefoot, contact the Virginia accident lawyers at Driving Defense Law at (757) 929-0335 or visit our website to schedule a consultation.