Is It Illegal to Drive Barefoot in New York?

Although there’s a commonly repeated myth that it’s illegal to drive in New York without shoes on, the reality is no such law exists. If you are pulled over by a police officer who happens to notice your lack of footwear, you can safely expect that this fact alone won’t result in a ticket.

For many years, the myth that driving barefoot was illegal has circulated in all 50 states despite none of them having a specific law against it. This might come as a relief to those who have previously anguished about taking off uncomfortable shoes before driving.

Safety Concerns for Barefoot Driving

Although it’s not illegal to drive barefoot, there are safety concerns each driver should take into account.

For one, most drivers are unfamiliar with how the pedals of their car feel on their bare feet. These new sensations can be distracting, and a driver might have to quickly learn how much force to apply to each pedal to control the vehicle normally.

For example, you might apply more pressure than necessary, causing you to speed. You can also fail to hit the brake hard enough, which might cause you to run a stop sign or red light.

Although it might seem silly to consider at first, those with ticklish feet should also think twice before attempting to drive barefoot. Any sudden movement caused by a reflex to a tickling sensation can cause a driver to mistakenly press or fail to press a pedal.

Can I Drive While Wearing Flip-Flops?

There aren’t any laws that cover the kind of footwear everyday drivers must wear when operating their vehicles, so choosing to wear flip-flops is as legal as going barefoot.

That said, flip flops present their own safety risk should either of the pedals come between the driver’s foot and the footwear. A sandal or flip-flop can also accidentally come off of a driver’s foot and block either the brake or accelerator pedal.

Under these circumstances, a driver might struggle to free their foot or the flip flop from the pedal. This can cause them to unintentionally press the pedal or fail to do so when necessary.

Driving Barefoot May Lead to Other Violations

Any kind of distraction or interference with your control of your vehicle can lead to a traffic citation. If you’re driving your car differently than you’re used to, your risk of making an error can increase. This is no less true for driving barefoot or in unfamiliar or loose footwear. If you choose to drive under these circumstances, be mindful of how different it is to control your vehicle and quickly adjust accordingly.

If you do get a traffic ticket, Stites Law can help. We’ve helped many previous clients successfully fight citations for various kinds of traffic violations. We may be able to help you, too! To learn more, take advantage of a free consultation with our attorney.

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