New Tennessee law requires drivers to pay child support if they kill a parent while driving drunk

The Tennessee Senate passed a new law this week that mandates child support payments in the event that a driver kills the parent of a minor while driving under the influence of alcohol.

The bill, which unanimously passed in the state House of Representatives prior to the unanimous Senate vote, states that anyone convicted of vehicular homicide due to intoxication is required to pay child support for surviving children of any parents they kill in drunk driving accidents.

According to the bill, the amount of child support required would be calculated in each case based on the following criteria, according to WFLA:

  • The financial needs and resources of the child
  • The financial resources and needs of the surviving parent or guardian of the child. If the child is in the custody of the state, the court would consider the resources provided by the department of children’s services
  • The standard of living to which the child is accustomed.

If the convicted person is incarcerated, the payments may begin up to one year after the conviction. The payments would continue until the affected child is 18 years of age.

“A parent is responsible for the education and upbringing of that child and when then that parent removed from the home over something so, in my opinion, foolish where we drink and drive and take the life of an innocent then someone needs to be responsible for the upbringing of those children,” State Rep. Mark White told WFLA.

The law is known as “Bentley’s Law,” named for a 5-year old child who was orphaned along with his 3-year old brother, Mason, when a drunk driver killed their parents and 4-month old sibling in an accident last year. 




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Laura is a freelance writer out of Maryland and a mom of three. Her background is in political science and international relations, and she has been doing political writing and editing for 17 years. Laura has also written parenting pieces for the Today Show and is currently working on writing a collection of remarkable true stories about normal people. She writes for FBA because unbiased news is vital to unity, and readers deserve the facts free of opinion.

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