Tennessee Bill Will Force Drunk Drivers To Pay Child Support If They Cause Parent Death

Tennessee Bill Will Force Drunk Drivers To Pay Child Support If They Cause Parent Death

Drunk drivers who cause the death of a parent while driving in Tennessee may be forced to pay child support in the near future. The bill had already passed the state’s House of Representatives and today passed at the Senate level. Now, all it awaits to become law is the signature of Governor Bill Lee.

House bill 1834 “Requires a sentencing court, in convictions of vehicular homicide and aggravated vehicular homicide and when the deceased victim was the parent of a minor child, to order the defendant to pay restitution in the form of child maintenance to each of the victim’s children until each child reaches 18 years of age and has graduated high school.”

To decide exactly how much one convicted of vehicular homicide will pay, the state will consider multiple factors including the standard of living that the child is accustomed to as well as the financial needs and resources of the child and any surviving parent or guardian.

Related: Minnesota Law Allowing Police To Seize And Sell Cars Of Non-Lawbreakers Comes Under Scrutiny

This ruling does not remove a surviving parent or guardian’s right to file a civil suit or obtain a judgment against a convicted driver. At the same time, if a judgment is obtained, it would supersede and cancel any child support payment imposed by the government of Tennessee.

Those convicted must begin making payments right away and if they cannot due to incarceration they have one year to begin payments once released. If a child reaches 18 before all payments have been made, the defendant will have to continue making those payments until complete.

The bill was inspired and championed by Cecilia Williams. Her son, daughter-in-law, and grandson were killed by a drunk driver in April of 2021. Speaking about the effect the law might have on convicted ones she was very clear.

“They will always remember, this is what I did to the family, you know, and it will sink into them. I can’t do this again. You know, I’m supporting children that aren’t mine,” she said to 9 News ABC.

The bill was initially named after the eldest still-living grandson of Cecilia but has now had the names of two other children who lost a parent as well. It’s now known as “Ethan’s, Hailey’s, and Bentley’s Law.”

Leave a Reply