There’s a very clever new bill that’s just become law in Tennessee, and it seeks to curb drunk driving, by dipping into the pockets of offenders, for a very long time…The bill, which will force any drunk driver who kills a child’s parent, to pay child support for that child (or children) was started thanks to a grandmother in Missouri named Cecilia Williams, who is raising her two grandchildren after her son, his partner and their four-month-old baby were killed in a drunk driving crash.
Drinking and driving kills 28 people a day in the US— about one person every 52 minutes—according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That is more than 10,000 lives lost each year solely as a result of drunk driving.
Among the many lives that are taken every day due to these heartbreaking acts of carelessness are daughters, sons, other relatives… and parents. Up until now, those responsible for killing a minor’s legal guardians were exempt from paying any type of child support restitutions in the country—but one specific state is about to change that.
As of 1 January 2023, Tennessee became the first state in the US to charge drunk (DUI) drivers who cause a parent fatality child support for their victims’ surviving children. This new piece of anti-drunk driving legislation is also currently being considered nationwide.
Known as ‘Ethan, Hailey and Bentley’s Law’, it was named after three children who recently lost their parents due to a DUI. Tennessee’s governor Bill Lee signed the bill into law during the spring of 2022, however it didn’t take effect until the first day of 2023.
From now on, anyone convicted of vehicular homicide or aggravated vehicular homicide in the state will be required to pay child support until the victim’s kids are 18 years old. Tennessee courts will determine the amount of child support on a case-by-case basis, depending on the circumstances surrounding the child’s living guardians.
Meanwhile in the country, similar bills are being considered in multiple states including Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania. In New York and Missouri, killing people because of one’s bad decision might be just as painful as Tennessee’s new law.
These new bills have the full support of MADD, “Mothers Against Drunk Driving,” and if they get enough media coverage, could possibly make somebody think twice about getting behind the wheel of a car drunk.
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