Roughly thirty-two people die from drunk-driving-related car accidents in the United States alone. According to the US Department of Transportation, that's about one person every 45 minutes.
Last week, Tennessee passed a law requiring a person convicted of driving under the influence to pay child support if they kill a parent or guardian in an accident.
The law, named "Ethan's, Hailey's, and Bentley's Law," was named after children who lost their parents to drunken driving accidents. It will require DUI offenders to financially support the victim's children until they reach the legal age of 18 and graduate high school.
It's an extension of "Bentley's law," a failed bill from the state of Missouri created by resident Cecilia William after she lost her son, his fiancé, and his baby to a drunk driving incident on April 13, 2021. Her nephew, Bentley, was left orphaned after the tragedy. Williams took the initiative to help prevent such misfortunes from happening by creating a Facebook group to spread awareness.
Williams recalls the dreadful night when the police showed up at her door to break the news no one ever wants to hear. She told media outlet KY3 that officials said they died in a fiery car crash and were unrecognizable at the scene.
"Many families like mine suffer such a loss every second of every day, and Bentley's Law will bring change to hold the offender accountable for such horrific actions," she said in a statement.
According to a press release from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Tennessee's law also pays tribute to the late Chattanooga Police Officer Nicholas Galinger's children, Hailey and Ethan. Gallinger, just 38 years old, died on February 23, 2019, when a drunk driver hit him at work. He had graduated from the police academy less than one month before his passing and was in field training during the incident.
As of last year, more than 20 states had contemplated implementing the law. Click here to email your state legislature in support of Bentley's law.
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