Is it Illegal to Drive Without a Shirt?

Have you ever asked yourself if it is legal to drive your vehicle shirtless?  Technically, no federal law prohibits topless driving for both men and women.

Is it Illegal to Drive Without a Shirt?

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Nonetheless, it is practically impossible to be 100 percent sure if it is illegal to drive without a shirt before checking the local laws throughout the United States.

For example, some states forbid women from being shirtless and showing nipples in public. Logically, when you drive – your car becomes a public place.

So, if it is not permitted to walk around topless, it will be illegal to ride shirtless as well. Furthermore, every state in the USA prohibits people from purposely exposing themselves to harass or disturb others. Therefore, it can count as lewd and offensive if someone notices you in a car without a shirt.

However, it would be best to check local laws when entering different states and cities. Or you can keep reading, and we will walk you through the most important items for and against driving without a shirt.

Car Safety First

Even when not speaking about driving laws, these things matter to common sense and road traffic safety. For example, you shouldn’t be driving without glasses if you can’t see clearly. Or, if you have a big hat blocking your view or limiting your movement – you should take it off while driving.

Also, some shoes are more comfortable than others. You will normally choose the pair that will help you use pedals easily. Driving barefoot is not a good idea either.

That being said, even though it is not illegal to drive without a shirt – think about safety first. Assuming you go from the beach to the nearest store on a hot day, it is normal that you won’t bother to put on the shirt.

However, if your car has been parked in a sunny place, everything in the car can be hot. That goes for the seatbelt as well. Thus, it would be smarter to put on a shirt and avoid getting burnt.

Can Drive Without a Shirt Cause an Accident?

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Another reason you should think before taking your shirt off is a possible accident.

Although you might have a good reason not to put on your shirt, other participants in the traffic might disagree. Unfortunately and unfairly, this especially refers to ladies. Let us explain: federal law prohibits obscenity of any kind. [1]

Some road users might find it rude and obscene if you are a woman driving topless. Furthermore, it can be said you are distracting them from operating the vehicle properly. Eventually, any type of distraction can cause an accident. So, in this case, we can say driving without a shirt causes an accident.

There is one more example when driving without a shirt is not recommended. If a collision happens and your seat belt is activated – it could cause serious damage to your body. There is even a seatbelt injury: also known as seatbelt syndrome. It is a group of common injury profiles associated with the usage of seatbelts. [2]

So, the eventual damage caused by a seatbelt could only be worse while driving topless than with your clothes.

Finally, as a driver, you need to be watchful and responsible. And the best way to achieve that is to act as a serious participant in traffic.

Keeping in good shape will be easier when you wear something comfortable rather than being without clothes. Wearing something cozy will keep you agile and more ready to react to any driving situation.

Driving Topless: The Laws from State to State

As we mentioned earlier, federal law does not comment on shirtless driving. However, there are different state and local laws that you should check before sitting in a car without a shirt.

  • California

There are no road safety laws that deal with shirtless driving. However, you should cover your nipples if you have breasts. Specifically, it is not illegal for women to be topless in California, but Los Angeles County strictly forbids it.

Another reason you want to keep your shirt on in a car in California is the indecent exposure law. Namely, it is enough that someone sees you topless in your car and complains that you disturbed them intentionally, and you could face a lawsuit and pay a fine.

  • Washington state

In Washington state, men and women are allowed to be topless in public. Since no laws forbidding shirtless driving, you are most likely free to take your shirt off. However, the same rule applies: if someone thinks you are sexually offending them – they could sue you for indecent exposure.

  • Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey

Maryland also doesn’t have laws that are related to shirtless driving. But, it is forbidden for women to be topless in public.

Similarly, Virginia law prohibits people from exposing parts of their body deemed a “private part” sexually or obscenely. “Every person who intentionally makes an obscene display or exposure of his person, or the private parts thereof, in any public place, or in any place where others are present, or procures another to expose himself so, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.” [3]

The same goes for New Jersey: if you are a man and you drive without a shirt and are not jeopardizing traffic regulations, nothing would happen. But if you are a woman – New Jersey prohibits women from being topless.

  • Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has a law that prohibits committing indecent exposure. Even though indecent exposure stands for when a person shows genitals in a public place, a woman showing nipples can also be seen as inappropriate. So, driving with your shirt on in Pennsylvania would be better, especially if you are a woman.

  • Illinois

If entering Illinois state while driving shirtless, you will most likely be okay. However, it is smarter to cover your nipples if you are a woman. Namely, it is not allowed to show nipples in public throughout Illinois.

  • North Carolina

North Carolina is one of the states where it is legal for women to show bare breasts in public. However, be sure to check specific areas since there can be exceptions in some cities.

  • Georgia

Like North Carolina, Georgia laws allow men and women to be shirtless in public. So, you probably won’t have problems if you decide to drive shirtless.

  • Texas

There is not a certain law in Texas regarding driving without your shirt. It is also not strictly forbidden to be topless. But you can still face charges if you show your nipples while driving due to indecent exposure.

Conclusion

A common misbelief that it is illegal to drive without a shirt still exists. However, in the US, it is not forbidden by law.

Even so, we recommend you consider safety first and choose to wear something before putting your seatbelt on and starting the car.

Then again, if you have a really good reason to drive shirtless, you will most likely be okay. Just make sure to check local laws again, paying attention to parts about indecent exposure and toplessness. Always use the official resources or call the local authorities to ask about those laws.