Apr. 22, 2022 — Tennessee lawmakers have passed a bill to require drunk drivers to pay child support if they kill the parent of a minor child.
Under House Bill 1834, someone who is convicted of vehicular homicide would pay restitution in the form of “child maintenance” if the victim was the parent of a minor child. Each of the victim’s children would receive payments until they reach age 18 and/or has graduate high school.
The payments are similar to traditional child support, according to CBS News, in which a parent pays the primary caregiver of the child until the child becomes a legal adult at age 18.
The court will determine the amount of money to be paid under the new regulation based on several factors, including the financial needs and resources of the child and their surviving parent or guardian, including the state if the child is in custody of the Department of Children’s services. Similar to traditional child support, the standard of living the child is accustomed to will also be a factor in determining the amount.
If the defendant is incarcerated and unable to pay the required child maintenance fee, there can be a one-year extension after the release from incarceration to begin paying.
The bill passed unanimously in Tennessee’s House and Senate. Before it passed in the Senate this week, lawmakers added an amendment to rename the bill “Ethan, Haile and Bentley’s Law.”
Those are the names of the children of Nicholas Galinger, a 38-year-old police officer in Chattanooga who was killed by a drunk driver in 2019. Janet Hinds, 57, who was intoxicated when she hit him with her car, was sentenced to 11 years in prison in February for the fatal hit-and-run, according to The Associated Press.
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