Is It Legal to Drive Barefoot in Florida?
You probably learned from your parents or your driver’s education teacher that you should not drive barefoot. But is it legal?
The short answer is, yes, you can legally drive barefoot in Florida. No state, including Florida, has a criminal statute that prohibits driving without shoes. Florida’s motor vehicle code has a lot of rules about driving, but none mention your feet or the footwear you must have.
But just because you can drive barefoot in Jacksonville or in any city in Florida without getting a traffic citation does not mean you should. There are reasons ranging from safety to potential civil liability that make driving barefoot a bad idea.
Here is some information about whether it is legal and advisable to drive barefoot in Florida.
Barefoot Driving and the Law
Traffic laws are a bit different from other criminal laws. Since most traffic violations carry only a fine and points on your driving record but not jail time, you can get a citation even if you do not:
- Know a law covers what you did
- Intend to break the law
For example, to get arrested for theft, you must know the property was not yours and you must have intended to take it. If it fell into your bag or you mistook it for your property, you probably do not have the intent necessary to commit theft.
But traffic laws work differently. Traffic laws typically fall into strict liability offenses. This means that prosecutors or police officers do not need to prove you intended to break the law. Instead, they only look at what you did.
If you get a ticket for speeding, you cannot defend yourself by saying you did not intend to speed. The police officer only needs to show that your vehicle was traveling faster than the speed limit, regardless of what you intended.
Technically, Florida could pass a law saying that you cannot drive barefoot. If the state did so, police officers could give you a ticket for driving barefoot under that law. But Florida has not done that. For this reason, driving barefoot, by itself, does not constitute a traffic violation in Florida.
Traffic Laws that Might Apply
Florida does have other traffic laws that might apply to barefoot driving. One of the risks of barefoot driving is that your foot can slip off the brake pedal or accelerator.
If you lose control over the car because of your barefoot driving, you could get a citation for careless or even reckless driving.
Careless driving happens when you fail to drive in a “careful and prudent” manner. A citation for careless driving would not happen because you drive barefoot. Instead, an officer would cite you for the effects of barefoot driving.
Failing to control your vehicle, failing to brake, or stopping or slowing suddenly due to your foot slipping off the pedals could provide a basis for a careless driving citation.
Reckless driving happens when you drive in a way that exhibits wanton disregard for the safety of others. The situations in which barefoot driving might lead to a reckless driving charge are limited. However, it could happen in an extreme situation.
Criminal Laws that Might Apply
Criminal laws require intent. A prosecutor would have trouble showing that your barefoot driving manifested an intent to commit a criminal offense. Thus, the possible criminal laws that could come into play would only indirectly relate to your barefoot driving.
For example, a prosecutor could use your bare feet as evidence you drove under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you lied to the police about driving barefoot, you could face a charge of providing false information during an investigation.
But aside from these indirect situations, barefoot driving probably will not result in criminal charges.
Civil Liability and Barefoot Driving
Drivers have very low odds of facing a traffic citation or an arrest for barefoot driving. But if a driver causes a car accident, they could face civil liability for the damages resulting from it.
An accident victim can opt out of Florida’s no-fault system and pursue compensation from the at-fault driver and their insurer when they suffer a serious injury.
The accident victim must also prove the four elements of negligence:
Every driver has a duty of reasonable care to other road users, including pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists. They must drive safely and obey traffic laws to avoid harming others.
If a driver fails to exercise reasonable care when driving, the driver breaches their duty. Driving with bare feet could constitute a breach of duty since it increases the risk your foot will slip from the pedal.
You must also prove the other driver caused your accident.
If you got injured, you suffered damages. You had medical bills and missed work. You also suffered pain and mental anguish. All of these qualify as damages.
Recovering Compensation for Accidents Resulting from Barefoot Driving in Florida
If you can prove all of the elements of negligence, you can recover compensation for the injuries you suffered. Your compensation will cover both your economic losses and your non-economic losses.
Economic losses include all of the ways the accident affected your finances. Bills for medical treatment, physical therapy, and medication qualify as economic losses. They can also include the income you lost from missing work.
Non-economic losses include all of the ways your accident diminished your quality of life. Physical pain, mental suffering, reduced enjoyment of life, and an inability to perform your daily activities like showering and driving qualify as non-economic losses.
Contact the Jacksonville Car Accident Law Firm of Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers Today For Help
Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers – Jacksonville
9471 Baymeadows Rd #105,
Jacksonville, FL 32256, United States
Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers – Downtown Jacksonville
121 W. Forsyth St. #170
Jacksonville, FL 32202