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“No shirt, no shoes, no service” is a common sign posted outside businesses, but we never hear any mention of pants. Is ditching your pants and driving in your underwear safe and legal? Although driving naked or in your underwear could cause a dangerous distraction, it might not be illegal. Still, you might want to keep your pants on until you get home.

What is indecent exposure?

A shirtless man reads a book while sitting in his car in the sun
A shirtless man reads a book in his car | Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Indecent exposure involves displaying body parts typically covered by clothing. Although your underwear is generally something you want to keep to yourself, the covered areas are considered private parts. FindLaw says indecent exposure in California happens when a person does the following:

  • Acts willfully and lewdly
  • Exposes their personal or private parts
  • Does so in any public place where people might be offended or annoyed by the exposure

Although the definition varies by state, the act of breastfeeding in public is protected in most states. That is not considered indecent, sexual, or offensive. However, traffic laws might disallow leaving your pants behind while operating a motor vehicle.

Is driving in only your underwear illegal?

A shirtless Clint Eastwood leans out the window of a Jaguar convertible (ca. 1965)
A shirtless Clint Eastwood in a Jaguar convertible (ca. 1965) | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Regardless of whether you’re male or female, driving in your underwear, which means you’re almost naked, isn’t generally illegal. Most cases, some highlighted by FindLaw, show that drivers who were naked or in their underwear were not initially pulled over or cited for their lack of clothing but for something else.

Though driving around naked or almost naked isn’t illegal, it’s frowned upon in public and can cause distracted driving, which could lead to other issues.

Additionally, if you park your car and get out naked or in your underwear, you could be charged with indecent exposure in some states. Is that really worth leaving your pants behind?

Is it safe to operate a motor vehicle in your underwear?

Some states might have different laws for men and women regarding topless driving. That might sound unfair, but most women cannot expose their breasts without the act being considered sexual or indecent, FindLaw explains.

In addition to the exposure concerns, driving naked or almost naked in your underwear could be a safety issue. When you don’t have pants on, you’re stuck with the seat material against your bare flesh, which could get sticky and uncomfortable. Your clothing provides padding and protection from the elements, which your underwear doesn’t offer.

Typically, driving in only your underwear isn’t a reason for your insurance company to raise your rates, but it could be embarrassing in a car accident or during a traffic stop. In addition to the potential of indecent exposure, the lack of clothing could lead to additional charges, such as distracted driving, if you’re not wearing anything but underwear while behind the wheel.

Don’t succumb to the urge to drive around in your underwear. Instead, wait until you get home and can be as naked as you want behind closed doors.