Drunk driving is not fun because one careless turn can ruin someone’s life. In the past few years, many cases of reckless drunk driving have been reported.
To bring the situation under control, Tennessee is expected to sign a bill into law that will compel drunk drivers who’ve killed parents to financially support those parents’ children.
“Bill HB1834, better known as Bentley’s Law, has passed the state’s House with unanimous support.”
The idea came about because of a tragedy.
“In April 2021, a drunk driver killed a husband and wife — Cordell and Lacey Williams — along with their four-month-son, in a collision in Missouri. Cordell and Lacey left behind two other children, Lacey and Bentley.”
“According to CBS News, Thurby has since been charged with three counts of driving while intoxicated, causing the death of another. He was also charged with operating a motor vehicle in a careless manner and possession of synthetic marijuana. He’s still awaiting trial and is scheduled to face a jury in September, per KFVS 12.”
“But Williams wasn’t satisfied just yet. In the months that followed, she created “Bentley’s Law,” which unanimously passed the Tennessee House earlier this month. Named after her oldest surviving who is mourning his mom and dad, Bentley’s Law would require anyone convicted of killing a parent as a result of driving while intoxicated, to pay child support for their surviving children until they turn 18 years old and graduate from high school.”
In other words, “The main aspect of Bentley’s law is financial responsibility by the offender,” Williams previously explained to KMOV.
And so, a grieving mom wants to make drunk drivers pay.
Shortly after the tragic collision, Cecilia Williams, the mother of Cordell Williams, introduced Bentley’s Law. Williams is now raising her two grandchildren and would like to see drunk drivers on the hook for child support if their actions cause kids to be orphaned.
“I can’t do this again. You know, I’m supporting children that aren’t mine,” she told News Channel 9. “They deserve to get that compensation because you’re talking about raising children their parents are no longer here,” she added.
“After Williams came up with the idea, her cousin, Diane Sutton, is the one who got the ball rolling and brought the bill to Tennessee. It’s really just a great law, and it should be nationwide,” she said.
“Otherwise known as Bill HB1834, Bentley’s Law still needs to go through the state’s Senate before heading to the Governor, who is expected to then officially sign it into law. However, Chattanooga attorney Jay Kennamer notes that even if the bill is officially passed, there’s still a potential issue.”
“The main aspect of Bentley’s Law is financial responsibility.”
“[The driver] will always remember, this is what I did to the family, you know, and it will sink into them,” Williams told local media. “I can’t do this again. You know, I’m supporting children that aren’t mine.”
Bentley’s Law was introduced to Tennessee state representatives.
“The bill, known in legalese as HB1834, easily passed the Tennessee House with unanimous support. From there, it will need Senate approval before being sent to the governor. At that point, it will likely be signed into law.”
What are the specifics?
“The law says that a person convicted of vehicular homicide or aggravated vehicular homicide due to intoxication in an incident in which the victim is the parent of a minor child will have to maintain child support to each of the victim’s kids until they turn 18 and have graduated from high school.”
“But the bill does try to take this into account, and includes a provision that if the incarcerated drunk driver can’t pay, they’re not off the hook. He or she will have one year after being released to start paying child support — and will have to keep paying the monthly support, even after the child turns 18, until they’ve fully paid the entirety of what’s owed.”
Courts will decide how much payment is appropriate.
“Factors will include the needs of the children, the needs of the surviving parent or guardian, and the children’s accustomed standard of living.
If the offender is sent to prison, they’ll be given a one-year grace period on release before they’re expected to start paying child support.”
We could see similar laws across the country.
“The law will likely pass in Tennessee, and Williams is working on getting it passed in seven other states: Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Alabama, Virginia, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Missouri. Additionally, similar bills are being drafted in Texas, Utah, Michigan, and Indiana.”
What do you think?
“There’s no greater tragedy than seeing children orphaned at a young age due to the recklessness of a drunk driver. Is this an appropriate punishment for drunk drivers whose actions kill parents?”
We want to know your thoughts, so please share them in the comments section.