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Drunk drivers could have to pay child support if they kill a parent in a car accident under a proposed new law.
A bill has passed unanimously in the Tennessee Senate that requires drunk drivers in the state to make payments similar to child support if they cause the death of a parent.
The payments would be paid until the child turns 18, while the amount would be decided by the court.
The bill, which will now go to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk to become law, was proposed by Cecilia Williams, whose son Cordell, 30, fiancee Lacey Newton, 25, and their four-month-old son, Cordell II, were killed by a drunk driver.
The accident orphaned Cecilia’s grandchildren, Bentley, five, and Mason, three.
Cordell II was only four months old when he was killed in a car accident by a drunk driver.
The bill was named the Ethan, Haile, and Bentley Act in honor of Cecilia’s grandson, Bentley, as well as the two sons of Nicholas Galinger, a Tennessee police officer killed by a drunk driver in a hit-and-run.
Cecilia said she believes her son’s killer, drunk driver Thurby, should be held financially responsible for her actions.
Thurby’s blood-alcohol level was allegedly twice the legal limit when he hit Williams’ car, which skidded off the road and hit a tree before catching fire.
Although the law will not benefit her or her grandchildren personally, she said she campaigned for her introduction to “help other people.”
I don’t do it for personal gain, I don’t do it for revenge. I do it to help other people,’ she told Fox 10.
The bill stated: ‘If a defendant is convicted of vehicular manslaughter due to intoxication or aggravated vehicular manslaughter and the victim of the crime was the parent of a minor child, then the sentencing court must order the defendant to pay restitution in form of child support compensation to each of the victim’s children until each child is 18 years old and has graduated from high school, or has graduated from the class to which the child belongs when he or she reached the age of 18 years old.’
The court would decide how much should be paid based on the financial needs and resources of the child, as well as any surviving parent or guardian, as well as the standard of living the child is used to.
State Rep. Mark White welcomed the bill, saying convicted drunk drivers should be held “accountable” for the implications of their accidents, especially when children are affected.
He added: “If you have financial responsibility for the rest of your life or for raising children who have lost a parent, education, housing, food, clothing, all of the above, you really need to think twice.” he told WREG-TV.
‘A parent is responsible for the education and upbringing of that child and when that parent is kicked out of the home for something so silly where we drink, drive and take an innocent life, then someone needs to be responsible for the upbringing of that child. Those kids.