A recently passed Tennessee bill will require drunk drivers that kill the parent of a minor to pay restitution in the form of child support.
House Bill 1834 will require defendants convicted of vehicular homicide due to intoxication or aggravated vehicular homicide, and the victim of the crime is the parent of a minor, to pay child support to the surviving parent or guardian of the child.
The restitution payments would mirror similar child support laws, with the defendant being required to make payments until the each child in question reaches the age of 18.
The court will determine the payment amount based on the standard of living to which the child is accustomed to, and financial needs and resources of the child and the living parent or guardian, which would include the state if the child is in custody of the department of children's services.
According to the bill’s summary, "If a defendant who is ordered to pay child maintenance pursuant to this bill is incarcerated and unable to pay the required maintenance, then the defendant will have up to one year after release from incarceration to begin payment. If a defendant's child maintenance payments are set to terminate but the defendant's obligation is not paid in full, the payments will continue until paid in full."
The bill also required that no child maintenance payments be ordered if the surviving parent or guardian brings a civil suit against the defendant and obtains a judgment prior to the sentencing court ordering child maintenance payments.
If a civil suit is brought forth after a sentence has been made ordering child maintenance payments, these payments will be offset by the amount awarded in the civil action.
The bill had previously passed unanimously in the state’s House before passing unanimously in the Senate on Wednesday.
An amendment in the senate changed the bill’s short name to "Ethan's, Hailey's, and Bentley's Law," referencing the three children of police officer Nicholas Galiger, who according to CBS 46 was killed in February of 2019 after Janet Hinds, who was driving while intoxicated, struck and killed the Chattanooga officer who had been inspecting a manhole cover that had water flowing from it when he was hit.