What do child support and drunk driving have in common? 

It seems like a nonsensical and random question, but thanks to a new Texas law, they could go hand in hand.



What Is "Bentley's Law"?

Texas House Bill 393, also known more broadly as "Bentley's Law" is a new law that Texas drivers should be very aware of before considering driving intoxicated. It adds a new potential penalty to intoxication manslaughter in the form of de facto child support payments, should the drunk driver kill a child's parent or guardian.

Of course, the person who commits the intoxication manslaughter will likely go to prison as well and be unable to make the restitution payments. Therefore, the law states that the offender will begin payments no later than one year after release.

Bentley's Law Didn't Start In Texas

Sadly, this law is named for a victim of intoxication manslaughter, Bentley, who was four years old when both of his parents and a sibling were killed by a drunk driver in Missouri. His grandmother, Cecilia Williams, channeled her grief into a fight for change- a new deterrent for drunk driving and a new provision for children who find themselves without a parent or guardian because of it.

Other States With Bentley's Law

In addition to Texas, Bentley's Law has been passed in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Maine. Perhaps ironically, it did not pass is Missouri.

Could Bentley's Law Have Further Implications?

It does seem a little, shall we say, specific, that a drunk driver responsible for a parent's death be obligated to make restitution payments when parents of children get killed by others in different ways. What about people who murder a parent, or cause a different accident that leads to their deaths? What will this mean for civil suits of this type in general? Time will almost certainly tell.

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