Barefoot drivers in Massachusetts
By Ginger B. Kelly, August 1, 2018
As most of you know already, I am a Facebook user. Click Here to see my Facebook page. I also post on Twitter, Instagram and other things like, Linkedin and AVVO.com. Because of my strong Social Media presence, it’s not unusual for people ask me interesting legal questions.
One of my dearest friends posed a very general question on Facebook regarding driving barefooted in Massachusetts. He wanted to know whether or not it was legal to drive with no shoes or footwear, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Although I am primarily a bankruptcy and consumer defense attorney, I sometimes handle a few criminal and civil cases, including traffic citations. I told my friend that I would do a little quick research on this interesting general topic.
This is what I found…
I started with the Massachusetts laws, or statutes, regarding driving while impaired. As most of you already know, driving while impaired means a lot of things, but it doesn’t mean driving without shoes. Impaired driving has to do with defendants who ingest, smoke or take substances that “impair” their ability to drive. In other words, don’t drink and drive or don’t drive while intoxicated or when taking drugs or substances, whether or not those substances are legally permissible. If they cause you to drive unsafely, it’s illegal. Although driving barefooted may be fun, it’s probably not exactly intoxicating. Thereby, barefooted driving would not qualify as an offense or apply to the law, under the impaired driving statutes in Massachusetts. Arguably, if driving without shoes induces an impaired driving intoxication, then for the sake of argument, there may be some remote chance there is a legal situation or offense. I said remote. If this happened, such a strange situation would be handled by a judge on a case by case basis.
Moving right along…
There are a similar set of statues in Massachusetts called the distracted driving statutes. Distracting driving is similar to driving while impaired in that a driver can not allow certain things to interfere with safe driving, but these are different because they don’t involve substances that impair driving. Under the distracted driving statutes, all drivers who drive in Massachusetts are prohibited from doing things that prevent them from keeping their “eyes on the road,” such as text messaging and cell phone use, using technology and other devices. One part of this law, for example, is that all drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from all cell phone use. These kinds of things are considered “distracted” driving but there is no mention of barefoot driving or driving without footwear.
For the sake of argument, if driving with no shoes is distracting to you and you can’t keep your eyes on the road, or perhaps the shoes or flip flops you just kicked off your feet are getting under your foot pedals, causing you to drive in an unsafe manner, this would be a matter that could be considered distracted driving. However, this sort of barefoot driving case would be a matter that should be settled by a judge or jury at court. I don’t suggest doing this. But for sake of this research, there is nothing per se, in Massachusetts, that would prohibit one from driving without shoes, according to the impaired or distracted driving statutory laws. But there are other laws pertaining to driving. Let’s take a look.
Taking a look at the new Safe Driving laws of Massachusetts, one can see that there are a lot of restrictions regarding mobile phones, devices and driving over the age of 75 and older. However, I found nothing in the safe driving laws of Massachusetts regarding barefoot driving. So there you have it! Let’s move on to regulatory law.
I began my quick regulatory law research by taking a look at the Massachusetts Driver’s manual. The Massachusetts Driver’s Manuel states, “In your vehicle, nothing should get in the way of your ability to see, react, or drive.” In other words, you can not have distracting objects in your vehicle, like wearing both head phones, a television visible to the driver or anything that could get in the way of your feet, and use of the vehicle pedals, while driving. Again, this sort of thing implies that it’s not permissible to simply kick off your shoes and let the shoes interfere with safe driving. However, the RMV manual mentions nothing about driving without shoes. So, RMV regulatory law isn’t a big help here, other than giving us a better idea of what it means to drive safely, not distracted and not intoxicated or under the influence of substances. Never the less, we still don’t really know whether or not there is anything in Massachusetts law that says it is not permissible to drive without shoes.
I ran a search on Mass.gov to see if I could find anything further in the regulations regarding driving barefoot. I found something interesting regarding footwear guidelines in the UK, but I found nothing for driving while barefoot in Massachusetts.
I also ran a case law search on my legal search engine. I found nothing regarding case law in Massachusetts. Since I could not find any recent case law regarding barefoot drivers in Massachusetts, it is safe to assume there is no law or precedent regarding barefoot driving in Massachusetts. Therefore, it is highly probable that it is legal to drive without shoes, with only socks or barefoot in Massachusetts, provided that driving without shoes is safe and does not distract one’s driving ability to drive safely.
Drive safely with naked tootsies or just socks in Massachusetts. Just be careful and be sure that your naked foot driving is free from intoxication, distraction and that kicking off your shoes never gets in the way of driving safe. Good luck!
If you have any comments or questions on this topic, or law in general, I invite you to post your comments, below. It’s interesting to see what others have to say.
If you have other legal questions, especially if you are contemplating bankruptcy or dealing with collections or debt collection law suits, Attorney Ginger Kelly is now accepting clients in the Dudley, Webster, Sturbridge, Fiskdale, Southbridge, Saundersdale, Oxford, North Oxford, Charlton, Charlton Depot, Auburn, Leicester, Rochdale, Spencer, Brookfield, East Brookfield, West Brookfield, North Brookfield, Warren, Brimfield, Wales, Palmer and Holland. We can explore whether or not bankruptcy is the easy way out for you. Our office is a quiet and comfortable place to talk, and a free pot of coffee will be waiting for you when you arrive.
ABOUT ME: Attorney Kelly is an attorney in good standing, licensed to practice in both the Federal District and State Courts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Her law practice is focused on consumer debt, finance, bankruptcy and District Court matters. Attorney Kelly is experienced in both criminal and civil trial work. On a personal note, Attorney Kelly enjoys writing and other things, like conservation and agriculture. To find out more, visit our website, or call us at (508) 784-1444.
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