New Tennessee law requires drunk drivers who kill parents to pay for child support – SCREENSHOT Media

New Tennessee law requires drunk drivers who kill parents to pay for child support

By Alma Fabiani

Published Jan 9, 2023 at 02:47 PM

Reading time: 1 minute

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.

The bill is supported by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and was strongly advocated for by tenacious Missouri grandmother Cecilia Williams, who is raising two of her grandchildren after her son, his partner and their four-month-old baby were killed in a drunk driving crash.

It’s unclear just yet how these latest measures will impact the worrying number of drunk driving fatalities in the US, however, we can only hope they’ll force people to think twice before getting behind the wheel intoxicated.