Drunk drivers will have to pay child support if a parent is killed in accident, under new law

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In Tennessee, a new law has just been passed and it requires drunk drivers involved in accidents to pay child support in case a parent is killed. According to WFTL, the law titled “Bentley’s Law,” was passed unanimously on Monday in the Tennessee House.

Under this new bill, if someone driving under the influence is convicted of vehicular homicide of an individual who has children, they would be ordered to pay restitution in the form of child maintenance for every surviving kid. They would be required to continue making the payments until the kids turn 18 and graduates high school.

In case the driver is financially unable to fulfill these requirements, they would be given a year’s time from the date of their release to start making the payments. Now if the child turns 18 before the defendant is able to pay, they would still have to continue making the payments until the said account is settled.

Cecilia Williams came up with the idea for HB 1834 after a tragic accident that changed her life forever. On April 13, 2021, Williams lost her 30-year-old son Cordell when a drunk driver rear-ended his car in Missouri. She also lost her daughter-in-law to be Lacey and her grandson Cordell Williams II who were in the vehicle with Cordell at the time. The pair left behind their two children – Mason and Bentley.

Fenton resident David Thurby was subsequently charged with three counts of DWI death of another in connection with the crash. At the time of the accident, his blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit. When questioned by a trooper he admitted having “seven shots of Crown and water” before driving. Now he is paying for 3-year-old Mason and 5-year-old Bentley’s upbringing.

Williams believes that this is the best way to punish drunk drivers and dissuade them from driving under the influence in future. “The main aspect of ‘Bentley’s Law’ is financial responsibility by the offender,” she said according to ABC7. “They will always remember, ‘this is what I did to the family,’ you know, and it will sink into them. I can’t do this again. You know, ‘I’m supporting children that aren’t mine,'” explained Williams while speaking with News Channel 9.

Thus lawmakers are trying to hold drunk drivers accountable for the lives they destroy when they recklessly decide to get behind the wheel inebriated. Moreover, the payment help “lift some financial burdens of kids left without parents.”

“They deserve to get that compensation because you’re talking about raising children that their parents are no longer here,” she added about the bill which was back by Missouri State Representative Mike Henderson of Bonne Terre. “I do firmly believe that these people who are driving drunk and take away the parents of these children, there’s got to be some help for these children. It comes down to that,” he noted.

Representative cover image source: Getty | Photo by RUNSTUDIO