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Tennessee Bentley’s Law: Texas Adopts Similar Legislation Making Drunk Drivers Liable for Child Support

Following in the Footsteps of Tennessee Bentley's Law, Texas Passes Groundbreaking Child Support Legislation (PHOTO: Thom)

Texas has passed Tennessee Bentley’s Law requiring drunk drivers who cause the death of a child’s parent or guardian to pay child support.

Tennessee Bentley’s Law Inspires Texas to Hold Drunk Drivers Accountable for Child Support

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Known as House Bill 393 or Tennessee Bentley’s Law, the legislation was signed into effect on June 2 by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. This new law closely parallels Tennessee Bentley’s Law, which has similar provisions for drunk driving offenses. In both states, the aim is to offer financial relief to the affected children until they reach 18 years of age or graduate from high school, whichever comes later. The text of the law specifies that “the court shall determine an amount to be paid monthly for the support of the child.” The amount is influenced by multiple factors, such as the child’s educational and medical needs, as well as reasonable child care costs. Similar to Tennessee Bentley’s Law, the legislation aims to maintain the standard of living that the child is accustomed to, thereby offering some sense of stability amidst the tragic circumstances. Governor Abbott noted the importance of the legislation, stating that “any time a parent passes is tragic, but a death at the hands of a drunk driver is especially heinous.” The spirit behind Bentley’s Law in Texas seems to echo the goals of Tennessee Bentley’s Law, focusing on the repercussions for drunk drivers who cause immeasurable harm to families. Both pieces of Tennessee Bentley’s Law aim to hold offenders accountable while providing some financial security for the victims left behind.

Texas Adopts Measures Reflecting Tennessee Bentley’s Law

Following in the Footsteps of Tennessee Bentley’s Law, Texas Passes Groundbreaking Child Support Legislation (PHOTO: Ibrahim)

One particular clause in the Texas law states that if an offender is unable to make payments due to incarceration, they may be eligible for a payment plan upon release. This provision is especially noteworthy because, like Tennessee Bentley’s Law, it takes into consideration the practicalities and complications of financial restitution while an individual is imprisoned. Payments must commence “not later than the first anniversary of the date of the defendant’s release,” the law specifies. Opponents argue that the law could be difficult to enforce and might not provide enough support for the affected families. However, proponents say the legislation is a step in the right direction for holding drunk drivers accountable, much like Tennessee Bentley’s Law. The push for such legislation in Texas may also inspire other states to consider similar measures, following the precedents set by Tennessee Bentley’s Law.

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