New Texas law requires intoxicated drivers who kill parents to pay child support

New Texas law requires intoxicated drivers who kill parents to pay child support
Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 2:58 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2023 at 11:17 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - A new Texas law will require those who kill parents while driving under the influence to pay child support.

“There are certain things Texans are great at being number one in, and drunk driving crashes is not where we should be,” said Tammi Branch, a victim services specialist at Mothers Against Drunk Driving East Texas. “We should be number one in prevention.”

H.B. 393, also known as Bentley’s Law, requires those convicted of intoxicated manslaughter to pay child support for the children of victims until they are 18 years old.

According to TxDOT, 1,162 people were killed in DWI-related crashes in 2022. That is equivalent to one person every seven hours. Bentley’s Law is named for a Missouri child who lost both his parents to an intoxicated driver.

“I think it’s a great thing because not all parents get social security survivor benefits for that parent, especially if that parent didn’t have a job prior or didn’t work enough quarters to get it,” said Branch, who lost her 18-year-old son to an intoxicated driver in 2009.

If a person is sentenced to prison, they are required to begin payments a year after their release.

“And if they refuse to pay or don’t have the ability to pay, the Texas law allows for civil judgment to be held against the defendant,” said Matthew Millslagle, a lawyer at Files Harrison P.C and former Assistant Smith County District Attorney.

Over 20 states nationwide are considering similar legislation.