The answer is pretty straightforward.
You’re on a long drive and are in it for the long haul. Melting a little deeper into the driver’s seat like it’s a comfortable chair at home, the inclination to relax starts to grow stronger.
Taking your shoes off suddenly sounds like a really comfortable idea. But is it safe? And, probably more pressing in your brain, can you get a traffic ticket for it?
The short answer is no, you can’t be legally cited by law enforcement anywhere in the United States just for driving barefoot.
Alabama has a law that forbids you from riding a motorcycle without shoes, but there's nothing that prohibits you from doing the same in a car.
There are no laws in any state that make it illegal to drive like that. Alabama has a law that forbids you from riding a motorcycle without shoes, but there's nothing that prohibits you from doing the same in a car. And most states make no restrictions for even motorcycle riders. Ohio goes slightly further, with the state’s motor vehicle law saying that while the action of driving without shoes is permitted, it is not recommended.
That’s a belief held widely among driving instructors and law enforcement officials, who argue that it is less safe to drive barefoot than with shoes on. Your ability to make the correct inputs on the vehicle’s controls changes when you’re not wearing shoes; even wearing flip-flops or high heels can have an impact. Applying the right force on the accelerator or brake pedal in various situations may be less predictable, which therefore makes it less safe for you and other drivers on the roads.
It is less safe to drive barefoot than with shoes on.
Of course, you’d like to be comfortable behind the wheel, especially during a long trip. But therein lies the difference between being comfortable and relaxed. Comfortable drivers can be alert drivers, but you're not passively sitting in a comfortable chair when you’re behind the wheel of a car. Being able to respond quickly and effectively, even on the wide open highway, is important for driving.
If you don’t want to be pulled over, driving with a bare foot sticking out of the window is a bad idea. That’s calling attention to yourself, even if they can’t exactly cite you for driving in that particular manner.
The message, however, is simple: driving without shoes isn’t illegal in the U.S., but it isn’t the smartest move.