New Texas Law Requires Drunk Drivers Pay Child Support to Victims’ Children — Even If Arrested
Under Bentley’s Law, or Texas House Bill 393, drunk drivers are responsible for making restitution payments to their victims’ children.
As per the bill, “The court shall determine an amount to be paid monthly for the support of the child.” These payments must continue until the victim’s child is 18 years old, or finishes high school — “whichever is later.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott wrote on X, “Any time a parent passes is tragic, but a death at the hands of a drunk driver is especially heinous.”
“I was proud to sign HB 393 into law this year to require offenders to pay child support for the children of their victims,” he added.
Texas’s new law requires drunk drivers to make “reasonable and necessary” child support payments
According to the new bill’s write-up, the courts will determine how much the offender must pay in child support.
It says these payments must be “reasonable and necessary to support the child” of parents who are killed by drunk drivers.
Courts will take several points into consideration, including the child’s financial needs, resources, accustomed “standard of living,” and physical and emotional condition. It will also take into account the financial needs of the “surviving parent or guardian,” if applicable.
Still, there’s one big question in connection to this law. What happens if the drunk driver is imprisoned and cannot pay child support?
According to the bill, if the accused is unable to pay due to imprisonment, they will begin payments “no later than one year” after their release. They may have a payment plan.
It is important to note that this bill applies to drunk drivers who committed the crime on or after the date it became law.
Moreover, Texas isn’t the first state to pass a bill like this. As per Complex, Tennessee passed House Bill 1834 back in April 2022, which also requires drunk drivers to pay child support to their victims’ children.
What to know about the history behind Bentley’s Law
Cecilia Williams from St. Francois County, Missouri went through a deep tragedy back in April 2021.
As per KHOU 11, her son, daughter-in-law, and grandson were all killed by a drunk driver in Highway 30 in Jefferson County. According to the Daily Mail, Williams had to take care of her two surviving grandchildren, Bentley, 7, and Mason, 5.
The law’s full name is actually “Ethan, Haile and Bentley’s Law.” It also includes the names of the children of Tennessee police officer Nicholas Galinger, who was killed by a drunk driver in 2019.
Williams told KHOU 11, “I made a promise to my kids, and my grandson, and other people that I was going to do what I could to stop people from driving under the influence.”
She worked to make “Bentley’s Law” a reality, which was first signed into law by Tennessee last year.
“I’m hoping that by December we have all of the states in the United States,” Williams added.
“I do it for everybody,” she told the outlet. “I do it for future victims because nobody deserves to go through this.”
As one X user said about the legislation, “Finally, a law that makes sense.”
Many more see it as “good news”:
Meanwhile, another X user wrote, “100% support Bentley’s Law! Hopefully every state passes it.”
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