(FamilyConservationPAC.com) – A new Texas law that went into effect on September 1 states that drunk drivers found guilty of intoxication manslaughter will now be required to pay child support if they kill a parent or guardian of a child in a car accident.
A bipartisan bill was passed into law in June by Republican Governor Greg Abbott.
At the time, Mr. Abbott stated, “Anytime a parent passes away is tragic, but a death at the hands of a drunk driver is especially heinous.” I was pleased to enact HB 393 this year, which requires criminals to provide child support for the victims’ children.”
Law supporters see it as a means of discouraging drunk driving.
This grieving grandmother has managed to bring Bentley's Law to 4 states. Cecilia Williams said her goal is to have the DWI law, which requires those who kill parents of kids under 18 in a crash to pay child support, passed in every state.https://t.co/mc4hzw9yG3
— The National Desk (@TND) September 1, 2023
The court must order a person found guilty of intoxication manslaughter, per Texas House Bill 393, “to pay restitution for a child whose parent or guardian was the victim of the offense.”
The legislation’s wording states that “[t]he court shall determine an amount to be paid monthly for the support of the child until the child reaches the age of eighteen or has graduated from high school, whichever occurs later.”
When determining the amount of restitution, the court will consider several variables, including the needs and financial circumstances of the kid.
The finances of the guardian, surviving parent, or Department of Family and Protective Services shall be considered, if applicable.
The decision will also be influenced by the child’s standard of living, general well-being, and any childcare expenses brought on by a working surviving parent.
In Texas, the maximum sentence for intoxicated manslaughter is 20 years in jail.
Within a year of being released from prison, the intoxicated manslaughter defendant must begin making child support payments.
Even if the payment was meant to terminate while in jail, they must make arrangements for the missing payments and pay the full amount they owe.
The benefits will continue up until the victim’s children reach the age of 18.
The “Bentley’s Law”
The statute is known as “Bentley’s law.” On April 13, 2021, a drunk driver caused a crash in which Cecilia Williams, a Missouri mother, lost her son, daughter-in-law, and four-month-old grandchild.
In an interview with KSDK-TV in August 2022, Ms. Williams said, “I came out of bed to an officer and a state policeman waiting at my door.
“They kept telling me they were killed in a fiery crash.”
In a statement posted on the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) website, Ms. Williams said: “Bentley’s Law was born out of a tragedy that has impacted the lives of our family and two beautiful boys, Bentley and Mason. These collisions are entirely avoidable, and I’ll keep pushing for reform on behalf of everyone who has been hurt by drunk drivers. Every second of every day, families just like me experience such a loss. Bentley’s Law will bring about change by making the criminal answerable for such heinous deeds.”
In July 2022, Tennessee passed “Bentley’s Law” for the first time.
More than 20 additional states are considering passing similar legislation.
Texas Drunk Driving
According to a Forbes report from late 2022, Texas has one of the country’s worst rates of drunk driving, coming in third place.
The rate is highest in Montana, then Wyoming.
New law passed in Texas regarding drunk driving! Listen up! pic.twitter.com/kKl9TleDYs
— kd_6161 (@kd_6161) June 15, 2023
According to the data, Texas had the highest rate of young drunk drivers engaged in fatal crashes, at about 1 per 100,000 citizens.
After Montana, there were more than 8 intoxicated drivers per 100,000 involved in fatal collisions, according to the research.
And drunk drivers were to blame for about 40% of all road fatalities in the state.
While this law may help deter Texans from drinking and driving, it does not address what will happen to individuals like illegal immigrants who kill someone while driving intoxicated.
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