May 22, 2020 | Ohio Law
There are many public places in Ohio where you cannot go barefoot. However, it is legal to drive a car in Ohio without shoes. No federal or state laws make it illegal to drive barefoot in any state in the country.
However, that does not mean you could not be charged with a crime or face civil penalties for driving barefoot if doing so is considered to be reckless and a breach of your duty to operate a motor vehicle in a safe manner. Both circumstances involve causing a motor vehicle accident while driving barefoot.
Civil Damages for Accidents Caused While Driving Barefoot
If a driver causes a car accident, the driver can be held liable for damages caused by the car accident. Damages vary depending on the facts of the car crash. In most cases, damages in a car accident include, but are not limited to:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Physical pain
- Emotional suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Disability and impairments
To recover compensation for a car accident injury, the victim must prove that the driver caused the car crash. If going barefoot while driving contributed to the cause of the accident, the driver could be liable for damages caused by the accident. When insurance does not cover the value of the accident claim, the driver could be personally liable for the damages in a personal injury lawsuit.
How Can Driving Barefoot Cause a Car Accident?
When you go barefoot while driving, your foot could slip off the pedal if your feet are wet. Also, when you slip off your shoes, your shoes could become a hazard. You may be distracted by your shoes underneath your feet, or your shoes could become lodged in between or under the pedal.
In some cases, a driver might hit his foot on the pedal or other objects on the floor, thereby causing a distraction. If hitting your foot causes pain, the distraction could cause you to lose focus on the road and result in a car crash.
Traffic Violations for Driving Barefoot in Ohio
While there is not a specific state law prohibiting a motorist from driving barefoot in Ohio, a motorist could face charges of reckless driving or operating a vehicle without reasonable control if driving barefoot caused an accident.
The Ohio reckless driving statute states that reckless driving is operating a vehicle in a “willful or wanton disregard” for the safety of property or persons. In other words, a motorist is operating a vehicle in a way that does not consider the safety of other individuals on the road.
Reckless driving may include speeding, racing, illegal passing, tailgating, and ignoring traffic signals. However, the definition of reckless driving is extremely broad. Therefore, if driving barefoot was the direct cause of an accident that causes severe injury, the driver could be charged with reckless driving for dangerous operation of a vehicle.
Drivers in Ohio may also be charged with operating a vehicle without reasonable control. The reasonable control statute requires that drivers must maintain reasonable control over a vehicle at all times during the operation of the vehicle. If driving barefoot caused a person to lose control of the vehicle because the person’s foot slipped off the pedal, the driver could potentially face a charge for failing to maintain reasonable control.
Proving Traffic Charges for Driving Barefoot
Being charged with a crime and being found guilty of a crime are two different matters. The state must prove each legal element of the crime to obtain a guilty verdict. It can be challenging to prove that driving barefoot was the cause of an accident or the reason a driver lost control of a vehicle.
Criminal defense attorneys may raise one or more defenses to the charges. An important defense would be that there is not a law against driving barefoot in Ohio. However, there are also potential defenses to reckless driving charges and failure to maintain control charges.
The state must prove that driving barefoot was the cause of the accident. Without testimony from the defendant that he lost control of the vehicle because he was driving barefoot or a witness to testify to that fact, the state probably has no evidence.
Therefore, as with any criminal charges, it is always best to remain silent and not provide statements to police officers or make statements to law enforcement officers. Talk to an attorney before you say anything. Your attorney may have you sit quietly and answer no questions.
Remaining silent may be the best defense possible to get out of traffic charges related to driving barefoot.