The Tennessee legislature on Wednesday passed a bill that would require drunk drivers to pay child support if they kill the parent of a minor, The New York Times reports.
The bill, named “Ethan, Haile, and Bentley’s Law” after children who lost their parents to drunk drivers, passed unanimously in both chambers of the legislature.
The bill will now go to Gov. Bill Lee who will decide whether to sign it into law.
“As I promised, I will do what it takes to protect the future of our most valuable resources, our children,” state Rep. Mark Hall, who introduced the bill, said in a statement.
“Tennesseans care for each other and we will do everything in our power to hold people accountable who chose to do harm,” he said.
First of its kind:
The bill is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States.
The bill would require drivers convicted in the death of a parent to pay child support until their children reach 18 years of age and have graduated high school.
Courts would determine the amount a convicted driver has to pay based on financial needs and resources of the child and any surviving parents.
Bill named after officers’ kids:
The bill was named after the children of Chattanooga Police Officer Nicholas Galinger, who was killed by a drunk driver while inspecting an overflowing manhole in 2019.
Hall said he got the idea for the bill from Missouri grandmother Cecilia Williams, who worked on a similar bill in her state after her son and his fiancée were killed by a drunk driver.
“The one thing people value most in this world is their money,” she told the Times. “There’s some justice there. Families are going to get the compensation that they deserve and should have been able to still have from their parents. We’re all more than willing to raise the children that are left behind, but the problem with that is not everyone is financially stable.”