Is It Legal to Drive Barefoot in Pennsylvania?
April 26, 2022 | Pennsylvania Law
Can you legally drive barefoot in Pennsylvania? This question contains two parts. Can a police officer cite you for driving barefoot in Pennsylvania? No, a police officer cannot cite you for driving barefoot because Pennsylvania does not prohibit barefoot driving.
Second, can you suffer legal consequences if you injure someone while driving barefoot? Yes, you can face civil and criminal liability for damage you cause while driving barefoot.
Read on to learn about the legal consequences of driving barefoot in Pennsylvania.
Traffic and Criminal Laws that Cover Barefoot Driving
Despite what you may have heard from your parents or driver’s education teacher, no state in the country has a law against driving barefoot. But this only means that a police officer cannot stop and cite you for the sole reason that you drove barefoot.
However, Pennsylvania has traffic laws that may apply to the effects of barefoot driving. These laws depend on whether barefoot driving led to an accident or other traffic violation.
For example, one danger of barefoot driving is that your foot can slip off the brake pedal. Suppose that you run a stop sign because your bare foot slipped off the brake pedal. A police officer can stop and cite you for running a stop sign, not barefoot driving.
Careless or Reckless Driving
Under Pennsylvania law, careless driving happens when you drive with careless disregard for the safety of others.
Suppose driving barefoot causes you to drive erratically. A police officer might observe you driving at inconsistent speeds, not slowing down when you should, or otherwise endangering the safety of other road users.
The officer can cite you for careless driving. The penalty for careless driving includes a fine of up to $500 and three points on your driving record.
Reckless driving happens when you drive with wanton and willful disregard for the safety of others. A police officer could cite you for reckless driving due to some action that resulted from barefoot driving.
But the officer would need more than the neglect that comes with driving barefoot. The officer would need to show intent on your part to do something you know is dangerous. For example, a viral challenge where you deliberately speed while barefoot to see if you can stop before hitting someone might provide the needed intent.
Other Ways an Officer Might Use Barefoot Driving
The fact that you drove barefoot might support other charges even though it did not constitute a traffic violation in itself. Thus, an officer who pulled you over for driving erratically may suspect you of drunk or drugged driving if you are wearing no shoes.
In this situation, the officer might conclude that your erratic driving was not caused by driving barefoot. Instead, the officer would test you for drugs or alcohol, using your erratic driving and bare feet as probable cause.
Civil Liability for Barefoot Driving
In addition to any criminal liability, you may face civil liability for causing a car accident while driving barefoot. The legal standard for civil liability is much lower than carelessness or recklessness.
For civil liability, the injured person only needs to prove that you knew or should have known your actions could cause harm. This means you will bear liability if a reasonably prudent person would have perceived the risk, even though you did not.
A reasonable person understands the risks of barefoot driving:
- Your foot can slip from the pedals
- You cannot push as hard on the brake pedal
- The pain of poking your foot on something embedded in the carpet or pedal could distract you or cause you to lose control of the car
Given these known risks, driving barefoot might breach the driver’s duty to drive with reasonable prudence.
Driving Barefoot in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania law does not prohibit driving barefoot. But you can still bear both civil and criminal liability for the damage caused by barefoot driving. You can avoid these costs by wearing shoes or sandals when you drive.
Contact an Award-Winning Pennsylvania Personal Injury Lawyer For Help
If you or a loved one has sustained an injury in Harrisburg or elsewhere in the state of Pennsylvania, contact Marzzacco Niven & Associates. Our award-winning Harrisburg personal injury lawyers can help you understand your rights and fight to secure the financial award you may deserve. Please contact us at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today:
Harrisburg Law Office
945 East Park Drive, Suite 103 Harrisburg, PA 17111
Wyomissing Law Office
833 N. Park Road, Suite 103, Room A Wyomissing, PA 19610