Drunk drivers who kill a parent could be forced to pay child support in US state
The motion was passed unanimously
The Tennessee State Senate has this week passed a bill that would require drunk drivers who kill the parent of a minor to pay child support.
A piece of legislation known as "Bentley's Law" passed the Senate unanimously on Wednesday.
The bill was advocated for by Cecilia Williams, the grandmother of the bill's namesake whose parents were killed in a drunk driving accident, according to USA Today.
The law requires anyone convicted of vehicular homicide where the victim is a parent to pay restitution for each child until they are 18 and have graduated high school. The exact amount of child support will be decided by the courts and will be impacted by individual circumstances relating to living guardians.
Should the defendant be unable to pay during incarceration, they have one year after release to begin payments. Once the child reaches 18, payments continue until they are paid in full.
"A parent is responsible for the education and upbringing of that child and when then that parent removed from the home over something so, in my opinion, foolish where we drink and drive and take the life of an innocent then someone needs to be responsible for the upbringing of those children," Republican State Representative Mark White told WREG-TV via USA Today.
"For me, this is fantastic because if you know anything about the legislative process, it just doesn’t happen that quick," Williams said during a Facebook Live regarding the bill's progression. "Families are going to get some kind of justice. Families are going to get the compensation that they deserve."
Following the bill's signing, lawmakers amended the name in honour of a police officer who was struck and killed by a drunk driver in 2019. It's now referred to as "Ethan's, Hailey's, and Bentley's Law", named after the children the officer left behind.
"As I promised, I will do what it takes to protect the future of our most valuable resources, our children," said Republican Senator Mark Hall.
"I am proud of our leadership, in both the House and the Senate, to get this bill pushed forward to the point that it is heading to our Governor Bill Lee for his signature."
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