New state law requires drunk drivers convicted of killing a parent in crash to pay child support

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Jan. 1 ushered in several new laws across Tennessee.

One in particular state lawmakers hope will make drivers think twice before getting behind the wheel intoxicated.

Tennessee passed Ethan, Hailey and Bently’s Law.

Under this law, a person convicted of vehicular homicide or aggravated vehicular homicide due to intoxication will have to pay child support if the victim is the parent of a minor.

The guilty person would have to pay until the child is 18 and graduates from high school.

A Missouri grandmother, who lost her son, her son’s fiancé and grandson because of a drunk driver, has been pushing for this law across the country.

”She ended up taking custody of all of their children,” said Alex Otte, a regional director with Moms Against Drunk Driving (MADD). “She talks a lot about how grandparents, their children are already raised they don’t expect this expense.”

The law is named after children, including two of a Chattanooga police officer, whose parents were killed by a drunk driver.

”We want people to understand you will be held accountable for this decision, but not only that,” Otte said. “The decision to do so affects so many lives.”

MADD’s goal is to end impaired driving.

If a convicted killer is incarcerated and unable to pay the required child support, the defendant will have up to one year after release to start paying.

Those payments are supposed to continue until the children are 18 and graduated from high school.

If the payments are about to expire but they have not paid the required amount, they’ll have to keep on paying until they catch up.

Tennessee is the first and only state to pass this law.