Is Driving Barefoot Illegal in Ohio?

While it’s legal to drive barefoot in Ohio, it isn’t recommended. Here’s why.
Written by Shannon Fitzgerald
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
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It is legal to drive barefoot in
Ohio
, though many would believe otherwise. Traffic laws do recommend wearing proper footwear, however, and law enforcement can cite you for distracted driving if barefoot driving inhibits your safety on the road. 
If you’ve ever forgotten to put your shoes on while rushing to the car, you may have found yourself wondering whether you could legally drive off without them. Well, the answer is—yes. 
It’s actually perfectly legal to drive barefoot in every state in the country, including the District of Columbia. But this doesn’t mean there aren’t any repercussions for doing so. States like Ohio will still ticket barefoot drivers if their lack of shoes contributes to distracted or reckless driving. 
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Is it illegal to drive barefoot in Ohio?

No—it’s totally legal to drive barefoot in Ohio. So legal, in fact, there’s never been any law prohibiting it in the state’s history. 
Perplexed over the widely held belief that such a law did exist, a man named Jason Heimbaugh decided to set the record straight in 1994. After questioning every DMV in every state about whether barefoot driving was legal in their jurisdiction, he proved that the answer was a unanimous yes
Today, that answer remains unchanged. It’s still legal to drive barefoot in every state, D.C. included. Ohio is no exception to this national pattern, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences for hitting the road shoeless. If your barefoot driving leads to poor driving behavior, Ohio law enforcement will cite you for failing to exercise due care

Is it safe to drive barefoot?

Though barefoot driving may be legal in every state, is it actually safe? The answer to this one is a resounding no
In Ohio, traffic law even states that driving without shoes can be quite unsafe and is not recommended. This is because barefoot driving decreases a driver’s control over the vehicle
Here’s how: 
  • When you’re not wearing shoes, you have less traction to control the brake and gas pedals 
  • Bare feet have reduced braking power 
  • The strangeness of driving without shoes is often a distraction for drivers 
  • If there is an accident, bare feet are at much greater risk of injury 
Despite this, it may actually be safer to drive barefoot if you’re wearing certain shoes—like high heels or flip-flops. So if you’re on your way to the lake and your flip-flops are tripping up your coordination, you may be better off just kicking them off. 
The bottom line: while it’s perfectly legal to drive barefoot, wearing closed-toed shoes with good traction is the safest way to control your braking and acceleration. That said, it may be safer to drive barefoot if you’re wearing clumsy shoes like high heels or flip-flops. 
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