/  04.22.2022

On Wednesday (April 20), the state Senate unanimously passed a bill in Tennessee that would order drunk drivers who kill the parent of a minor to pay child support.

Under this bill, any person convicted of vehicular homicide due to intoxication or aggravated vehicular homicide of a parent with a minor will have to pay restitution for each child until they are 18 and have graduated high school.

Republican State Rep. Mark White told WREG-TV, “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.”

Sources say this bill is referred to as “Bentley’s Law” after a Missouri child whose parents were killed in an accident involving a drunk driver. Cecilia Williams now takes care of her orphaned grandchild and is a strong advocate of the bill.

Yesterday, WTVC News Channel 9 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, stated that Senator Mike Bell introduced an amendment that would add the names Ethan and Hailey to the bill. Ethan and Hailey are the children of slain Chattanooga Police Officer Galinger, who was fatally struck by a drunk driver in a hit-and-run accident while on the job in 2019.

The amount of child support will be determined on a case-by-case basis that would reflect their prior living situation with the parent or legal guardian. Anyone unable to pay while incarcerated will be required to begin payment within one year of being released.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that on average, 28 people are killed in drunk-driving accidents daily in the United States — those numbers add up to more than 10,000 people being killed each year. The administration goes on to say that drunk-driving accidents make up roughly 30% of all traffic fatalities.

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