Tennessee bill would force drunk drivers to pay support for victim’s kids

A bill that passed the Tennessee state Legislature this week would force convicted drunk drivers to pay child support if they’re in a crash that kills a 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 a tragedy” if the bill becomes law.

“Needless to say it’s devastating and you’ve got children that 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 this gives them some kind of financial support until they reach the age of 18 so they’re not financially devastated.”

The bill appears to be the first of its kind in the country. It now awaits Gov. Bill Lee’s signature.

A spokesperson for Lee couldn’t be reached for comment Friday, but Hall said he expected the governor would sign the bill into law for July 1.

Gov. Bill Lee will need to sign the bill to make it law.
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The bill requires someone convicted of vehicular homicide to pay restitution to any children of the victims who died in the crash. The payments would continue until the child turns 18 years or graduates from high school.

A court would determine the amount of the payments, taking into consideration the standard of living the child is used to as well as their financial needs and family situation.

Hall said various other states such as Texas, Wisconsin and North Carolina have begun working on similar bills and called him asking to share the language of his bill.

DUI Sign

Tennessee Rep. Mark Hall says the bill would give children the “best chance for success after a tragedy.”
Getty Images/iStockphoto

“It’s an effective tool in combatting drunk drivers — I mean, it’s something they actually have to think about when they get behind the wheel intoxicated,” Hall said.

The “Ethan, Haile, and Bentley’s Law” was first pitched by Missouri grandmother Cecilia Williams, whose son and his fiancée were killed in a drunk driving accident – essentially orphaning Williams’ young grandsons 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.



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