Don’t drive drunk. We shouldn’t even have to tell people that anymore, but it keeps happening. The NHTSA estimates that nearly 30 people die every day from drunk driving-related accidents. These accidents cost a mind-blowing $44 billion a year. One state, though, is making moves to get drunk drivers to have some kind of financial responsibility. CBS News reports that Tennessee has passed a law that would require drunk drivers to pay child support to the children of the parents they kill.
The bill, HB-1834, is exactly what you would expect it to be and is written so that the driver would bear the financial responsibility of taking care of the child until they’re an adult.
House Bill 1834 would require a person who is convicted of vehicular homicide to pay restitution in the form of child maintenance if their victim was the parent of a minor child. Each child of the victim would receive the restitution until they reach 18 years old and graduate high school.
The bill differs from regular child support in that instead of basing the payment amounts on the income of the person paying, the payment amount is based on a number of outside factors, including the child financial needs. From The New York Times:
Courts would determine a reasonable amount of child support by considering the financial needs and resources of the child or children, the financial resources of the surviving parent or guardian — including the state if the child is in the custody of the department of children’s services — and the standard of living the children are used to.
The bill passed both the Tennessee state house and senate unanimously and is officially named Ethan, Haile, and Bentley’s Law. These are the names of Tennessee police officer Nicholas Galinger’s children, who were killed by a drunk driver in 2019. The bill was introduced by state Rep. Mark Hall who said, “Tennesseans care for each other, and we will do everything in our power to hold people accountable who chose to do harm.”