Tennessee lawmakers passed a new bill that would require drunk drivers to pay child support if they kill a parent of a minor.
Under House Bill 1834, courts would be permitted to determine the appropriate amount of money that the driver should pay toward child support, and drivers must also pay for financial needs and resources that maintain the standard of living to which the grief-stricken child is accustomed , and cover the resources and needs of the child’s surviving parent or guardian.
The bill also grants drivers who are incarcerated and unable to make payments up to one year after their release to begin paying the affected family. The bill stipulates that if the child’s legal parent or guardian sues the driver for monetary expenses, and wins, then no child support payments will need to be made or the given amount will be deducted from the child support.
Bill 1834, which passed in the House unanimously on February 28, and was recently amended, now heads to the desk of Gov. Bill Lee (R) for a signature.
The bill was introduced after Janet Hinds was found guilty and sentenced to 11 years in prison for killing Chattanooga police officer Nicholas Galinger, who was the father of two children, on February 23, 2019.
Tennessee is not the only state to propose the measure. In November 2021, a Missouri grandmother by the name of Cecilia Williams introduced “Bentley’s law,” which she named after her grandson who lost his father, Cordell Williams, 30, his fiancée, Lacey Newton, 25, and their 4-month-old son, Cordell II, to a drunk driver.
Ohio Rep. Diane Grendell (R) has also proposed a similar bill, which is aimed at drunk drivers and the families of victims of vehicular homicide.