A bill passed this week by the Tennessee State Legislature would require convicted drunk drivers to pay child support if they are in an accident that kills the parent of a minor.
Mark Hall, a member of the state House of Representatives who sponsored the bill, said children would have “the best chance of success after tragedy” if the bill becomes law.
“Needless to say, it’s devastating and you have kids who have a very limited future without their parents,” Hall told The Post in an interview on Friday.
“Not that they can ever be replaced, but it gives them some kind of financial support until they turn 18 so they don’t get devastated financially.”
The bill appears to be the first of its kind in the country. It now awaits Governor Bill Lee’s signature.
A spokesperson for Lee could not be reached for comment on Friday, but Hall said he expected the governor to sign the bill by July 1.
The bill requires a person convicted of motor vehicle homicide to pay restitution to all children of victims who died in the accident. Payments would continue until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school.
A court would determine the amount of the payments taking into account the standard of living to which the child is accustomed as well as their financial needs and family situation.
Hall said various other states such as Texas, Wisconsin and North Carolina started working on similar bills and called him asking to share the language of his bill.
“It’s an effective tool for dealing with drunk drivers – I mean, it’s something they really need to think about when getting behind the wheel drunk,” Hall said.
The ‘Law of Ethan, Haile and Bentley’ was first introduced by Missouri grandmother Cecilia Williams, whose son and fiancée were killed in a drunk driving accident – making essentially orphaned the young grandsons of Williams, Bentley and Mason, according to Fox29.
Ethan and Haile were the names of the children of Tennessee police officer Nicholas Galinger, who was fatally struck by a drunk driver in 2019, KBTX reported.
New York Post