Is It Legal to Drive Barefoot in New South Wales?

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Driving barefoot

When you’re on a particularly long drive and cruising along the highway, it may be tempting to kick of your shoes and put your bare feet to the metal. Or who wants to put shoes on when doing a five-minute run to the servo or convenience store around the corner?

But will your naked tootsies get you into trouble with the law?

Here’s what the law says in our state.

The Road Rules in NSW

A large number of New South Wales road rules are, funnily enough, found in a piece of legislation known as the Road Rules 2014 – a set of regulations covering everything from speed limits to traffic lights.

Traffic offences under the Road Rules are punishable by penalty notices – also known as fines.

They are what is known as ‘strict liability offences’, meaning the prosecution does not need to establish you had a particular mental state such as an intention or recklessness when you engaged in the conduct – just committing the act that constitutes the offence is enough.

That said, there are several defences to strict liability offences which include defences under the general criminal law – such as self-defence, duress and necessity – as well as discrete defences such as making an honest and reasonable mistake of fact.

More serious driving offences are found under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW). These offences will often carry the potential for prison sentences, and include negligent driving and dangerous driving offences.

So, Can You Drive Without Footwear?

There is no rule that explicitly prohibits driving without footwear in New South Wales. So, technically, driving barefoot is perfectly legal in our state.

That said, potential offence that could apply, should your feet get sweaty whilst driving and you struggle to keep traction on the pedals, is regulation 297(1) of the Road Rules which requires a driver to have “proper control of the vehicle”. This offence carries a penalty of $464 and 4 demerit points if dealt with via a penalty notice, or a maximum fine of $2,200 if dealt with in court; for instance, if you elect to take the matter to court rather than pay the fine.

Challenging a Traffic Fine

If you believe there has been a mistake in issuing you a fine or there are other reasons that contributed to the offence that need to be considered, you can request a review.

Factors likely to result in leniency or cancellation of a fine include:

  • The offence did not take place or the fine has been issued in error;
  • You were not responsible for the vehicle at the time of offence;
  • For demerit offences, that you have a good driving history;
  • A medical emergency or crisis explains why the offence took place;
  • You have an intellectual disability, mental illness or cognitive impairment, are a minor, or are homeless.

Taking the Case to Court

If you disagree with the findings of the review, you can elect to take the matter to court, in which case you will be given an initial court date during which you can either seek to have your case listed for a defended hearing, or enter a guilty plea and request leniency such as a section 10 dismissal – in which case you will have no fine, no demerit points / licence suspension.

It is important to be aware that if you choose to contest a traffic matter, the burden of proof rests on the prosecution to establish that you committed the offence.

If they are unable to do this, you must be found not guilty.

However, you should also be aware that the maximum fines that apply in court are normally a lot higher thannm

Seeking Traffic Law Advice?

If you are looking for advice from a team of lawyers who are vastly experienced in representing clients for traffic offences, and who have an outstanding track record of helping clients retain their driver licences, call Sydney Criminal Lawyers anytime on (02) 9261 8881 and let our specialist defence team fight to protect your livelihood.

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Jarryd Bartle

Jarryd Bartle is an Associate Lecturer in Criminology and Justice Studies at RMIT University and a consultant for the Bridge of Hope Innocence Initiative, which investigates claims of wrongful conviction and advocates for systemic reform to protect against miscarriages of justice.

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