Texas is the latest state to sign Bentley’s Law into effect, US media reported. This law will require a convicted drunk driver to pay child support if they kill a parent or guardian in the state.
This follows at least 24 other states who have passed the same or similar legislation.
The bill, named “Bentley’s Law,” was signed into Texas law on Friday and will require those who kill parents of kids under 18 in a crash as a result of drunk driving to pay child support.
The woman responsible for lobbying for the law and in turn, creating it, Cecilia Williams, felt this was an issue that hit close to home. She lobbied for it after her son Cordell, daughter-in-law Lacy, and 4-month-old grandson were killed in April 2021 by a drunk driver in the US state of Missouri.
“I made a promise to my kids, and my grandson, and other people that I was going to do what I could to stop people from driving under the influence,” Williams told local Texas news outlet KHOU.
After Cordell, Lacy, and their infant were killed senselessly, they left behind a 2-year-old, Mason, and a 4-year-old, Bentley. They were ultimately left in their grandmother's care and without parents, US media reported.
“Life ain’t the same and it never will be,” she told local TV news outlets.
Tennessee takes groundbreaking first step
The first state to sign this law into effect was Tennessee, assuring it would be put into practice starting in July 2023. Similar legislation followed in 24 other states.
US NGO Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) released a statement of support for Bentley's Law in April 2022.
“Too often, offenders are able to move on with their lives even after killing someone, while victims and survivors are reminded every day of their loss,” according to the statement. “The idea behind Bentley’s Law is to both provide a sense of justice to victims and survivors and make sure offenders are reminded of the heartbreak they caused by making the choice to drive impaired.”