MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Lawmakers in Tennessee have passed a new law that will require drunk drivers who kill parents to pay child support.
This week, Tennessee lawmakers in both the Senate and House passed a tough new bill that seeks financial restitution from DUI offenders whose actions result in the death of a parent or guardian.
WREG spoke with two Memphis lawmakers, Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D) Memphis and Rep. Mark White (R) Memphis, about the message they hope to send to the public.
It’s the latest effort to hold drunk drivers accountable for their actions on Tennessee roadways, especially when they destroy the lives of families.
“When we have individuals who commit these crimes, and DUI is a crime when we have that type of reckless endangerment that results in death then we have an obligation to send a message,” Rep. Hardaway said.
State lawmakers sent a message this week by passing a bill that would require drunk drivers who kill parents to pay child support if their actions led to the death of a parent.
“A parent is responsible for the education and upbringing of that child and when then that parent removed from the home over something so, in my opinion, foolish where we drink and drive and take the life of an innocent then someone needs to be responsible for the upbringing of those children,” Rep. White said.
Under House Bill 1834, drunk or impaired drivers convicted of vehicular homicide would be ordered to pay restitution in the form of child support to each of the victim’s children until they’re 18 years old and graduate high school.
If the defendant is incarcerated and can’t pay, he or she would be given one year after their release to begin paying.
Lawmakers hope it sends a strong message before people drink and drive.
“You’ll have individuals who might be thinking about making the law in this way…might be thinking about it will look at those examples and say it’s wrong. It’s not just about the legalities, but it’s about the moralities,” Rep. Hardaway said.
“If you have the financial responsibility for the rest of your life or for the upbringing of children who’ve lost a parent, education, shelter, food, clothing, all of the above, you need to really think twice,” Rep. White said.
Tennessee House Bill 1834 is now headed to Governor Bill Lee’s desk for his expected signature.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said, every day, about 28 people die in drunk driving crashes in the U.S.