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Texas passes new intoxication manslaughter law

A new Texas law requires drunk drivers in Texas who kill the parents of a child in a car crash to pay child support, according to a new law that went into effect on Friday.


The bill signed by republican governor Greg Abbott, rules that any person found guilty of intoxicated manslaughter must pay child support if the victim had a child, the amount to be determined by a judge. 


Intoxication manslaughter is defined by state law as a person operating “a motor vehicle in a public place, operates an aircraft, a watercraft, or an amusement ride, or assembles a mobile amusement ride; and is intoxicated and by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another by accident or mistake."


The court's calculation of the monthly payment will hinge on various factors, encompassing the child's financial requirements, the presence or absence of a surviving parent or guardian, and the financial means of the defendant.


"The defendant must pay all arrearages regardless of whether the restitution payments were scheduled to terminate while the defendant was confined or imprisoned in the correctional facility." the law states.


The provision is being pushed in multiple states, it was first started by a woman in Missouri named Cecilia Williams whose son, daughter-in-law, and grandson were all killed when they were hit by a drunk driver along highway 30 in Jefferson County.


People who are convicted of this crime but cannot pay will be given payment plans, and those who are currently in prison for this crime will be forced to pay child support within the first year after release. 


Those who are charged with intoxicated manslaughter can serve up to 20 years in prison in Texas.


Gregg Abbott in a Twitter post said “Any time a parent passes is tragic, but a death at the hands of a drunk driver is especially heinous. I was proud to sign HB 393 into law this year to require offenders to pay child support for the children of their victims.”


Payments are designated for remittance to either a surviving parent or guardian or alternatively, to the Department of Family and Protective Services if the child is under their care.


In instances where the defendant is unable to fulfill the required payments due to imprisonment, it is stipulated that they must commence the payments no later than one year after their release.


As per the law, it is mandated that the defendant settles all outstanding arrearages, regardless of whether the scheduled cessation of restitution payments aligned with the defendant's period of confinement or imprisonment in a correctional facility.


HB 393 is applicable to incidents occurring on or after its enactment as a law.


This law was first passed in Tennessee and it is being considered in many more states. 

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