Is Driving Naked Illegal?

America has plenty of weird driving laws, and plenty of car safety laws, but most lawmakers seem unconcerned with whether you are operating your vehicle in the buff. It may be shocking to hear, but few states have laws expressly prohibiting driving naked. Of course, you can only drive your car naked in states where you can be nude in public. But that includes a surprising amount of the country. 

Nudity laws vary by state

This is a photo of a man's hands on a car wheel. While driving naked is not illegal, indecent exposure is subject to local laws | Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
While driving naked is not illegal, indecent exposure is subject to local laws | Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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There are no laws expressly prohibiting driving in your birthday suit. But lawmakers and police care if you are being “indecent” or disturbing those around you.

Definitions of “indecent” and “disturbing” vary by state, so be sure to look up your local laws. In every state, if you are driving around a crowded place, obviously naked, and someone complains, you can get in legal trouble for indecent exposure.

An important distinction: your car is not a private space, like your house. So while operating your car, you are subject to whatever local laws affect public spaces.

This is a photo of a man's bare feet outside his car window as he takes a nap in New York City. While driving naked is tricky, there is no law prohibiting barefoot driving | TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images
There is no law prohibiting barefoot driving | TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

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You may ask, “What about shoes?” Urban legends abound about how illegal it is to drive barefoot. But they are just that: legends.

It is perfectly legal to drive barefoot in all fifty states. In fact, slippery shoes or boots that get in the way of your pedals make the list of what not to wear when driving. But your bare feet do not.

Just because it is legal to drive barefoot does not mean it is safe. Many believe barefoot drivers are slower to use their brakes. Therefore, if a barefoot operator causes an accident, police could cite them for reckless driving. So kick off your shoes with caution. 

Driving without a shirt is only illegal in three states

Laws about who must wear a shirt in public vary by state. This is a photo of a person sticking their hand out of a sunroof in Iran. | ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images
Laws about who must wear a shirt in public vary by state. | ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images

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It is legal for male-bodied people to take their shirts off in public in all fifty states. This is why it is not uncommon to see men driving shirtless on a hot day.

Female-bodied people have pointed out that this law is unfair. As a result, many states have passed legislation saying that anywhere men can go topless, women can too. As a result, Utah, Indiana, and Tennessee are the only three states with laws expressly prohibiting female-bodied people from being topless in public.

Though the other 47 states do not expressly prohibit toplessness, drivers may still be able to get into trouble. Many cities have laws against toplessness that contradict state laws. In other places, a person can leave their house topless but cannot take their top off while in public. In addition, thirteen states have no laws that either permit or prohibit toplessness. In these states, toplessness is a legal gray area. It is wise to research local laws before driving naked or topless.

Driving while fully naked is tricky

This is a photo of a woman sticking her bare feet out of the passenger window of a car. There are multiple ways to get in legal trouble while driving naked. | Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff/ MET/Getty Images
There are multiple ways a naked driver might get in legal trouble. | Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff/ MET/Getty Images

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There are no laws expressly forbidding driving while naked. But that does not mean a naked driver can’t get in trouble. Many states have laws against “disturbing” others or being “indecent” by exposing yourself to others to bother them. In California, for example, “indecent exposure” is defined as deliberately exposing yourself in a way that can offend or annoy people. If someone is offending or annoying others, driving naked may classify as indecent exposure.

While in a car, a naked driver might just appear shirtless. But getting in and out of their vehicle is a bit trickier. There are multiple stories of nude drivers getting in trouble when they were pulled over and police asked them to get out of their vehicle. Because they had nothing to put on, they were charged with indecent exposure.

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