New Tennessee law leaves DUI offenders on hook for child support
Ethan’s, Hailey’s and Bentley’s Law charges DUI offenders with child support if parent or guardian is killed in crash.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A 2023 Tennessee law will leave some DUI offenders on the hook for child support if a parent or guardian is killed in a crash.
The law in Tennessee is named Ethan’s, Hailey’s, and Bentley’s Law and it’s modeled after a law presented in Missouri.
”Drunk driving is a real issue and we have a problem with continued offenders,” said Diane Sutton the driving force behind the passing of the Tennessee law.
Sutton is cousins with Cecilia Williams.
Williams is the grandmother of Bentley, who the bill is named after.
Bentley is the child of Lacey Newton and Cordell Shawn Michael Williams.
The parents were killed in a suspected drunk driving crash in Missouri in 2021 alongside Bentley’s 4-month-old sibling.
Struck by the impact that crash has had on her cousin, Sutton met with Tennessee State Representative Mark Hall, a republican from Cleveland, to get the bill passed in Tennessee.
”We can’t bring our loved one back but hopefully people will know that the offender is always going to be reminded,” said Sutton.
The bill requires anyone convicted in a drunk driving accident that killed a parent or guardian to pay child support for their children until they turn 18 years old or graduate high school.
”The children need it, you know a lot of times their main support system has been taken from them and we don’t want them to suffer as much,” said Sutton.
While first passed in Tennessee, there are almost 25 other states working to pass similar legislation.
”We’re hoping that they’ll realize that’s a big responsibility that you’re taking on,” said Sutton. “So, taking that other drink or taking up your keys and you’ve got that in your mindset you know, maybe you won’t do that, call an Uber, call a Lyft you know there are so many different things you can do other than drink and drive.”
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