Tennessee Passes Bill Forcing Drunk Drivers Who Kill a Parent to Pay Children Tennessee Capitol building. (AP)
By Theodore Bunker | Friday, 22 April 2022 01:05 PM
Tennessee senators on Friday unanimously passed a piece of legislation that requires anyone convicted of killing the parent of a minor in a drunk driving accident to pay restitution to any children of the deceased.
The bill, known as "Bentley's Law" after a five-year-old child who was orphaned due to a crash caused by a drunk driver, previously passed the Tennessee House with unanimous support, states that anyone convicted of vehicular homicide because of intoxication or aggravated vehicular homicide will have to pay restitution if the victim has a minor child. That amount will be based on what the court deems to be “reasonable and necessary" in each case based on the needs, financial resources, and the standard of living of the minor and of any surviving parents or guardians.
If the defendant is imprisoned and cannot pay the restitution, the court will grant them one year following their release to start making payments, which would last until that child turns 18 and graduates from high school, according to CBS affiliate WREG in Memphis.
"A parent is responsible for the education and upbringing of that child and when then that parent [is] removed from the home over something so, in my opinion, foolish where we drink and drive and take the life of an innocent then someone needs to be responsible for the upbringing of those children," State Rep. Mark White, a Republican, told the news outlet on Thursday.
"When we have individuals who commit these crimes, and DUI is a crime when we have that type of reckless endangerment that results in death then we have an obligation to send a message," said Rep. G.A. Hardaway, a Democrat.
"You'll have individuals who might be thinking about making the law in this way … might be thinking about it will look at those examples and say it's wrong. It's not just about the legalities, but it's about the moralities," Hardaway added.