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Governor Expected to Sign DUI Orphan Compensation Law

Posted on in DUI/DWI

Knoxville DUI defense lawyer Driving under the influence (DUI) is never a good idea, but any day now Tennesseans are expected to have yet another reason to think twice before driving drunk. That is when Governor Lee is expected to sign the new “Ethan’s, Hailey’s, and Bentley’s Law” requiring anyone whose DUI offense kills a parent or guardian to pay child support to the victims’ surviving children until they are 18.

Tennessee to Become First State Enacting This Law

The law is patterned after one making its way through the Missouri legislature, which was promoted by Cecilia Williams, a grandmother whose son, his fiancée, and their infant son were killed in a DUI crash. In that incident, the driver’s blood-alcohol level was reportedly two times the legal limit after “seven shots of Crown and water.” When the accident left her remaining two grandsons orphaned, the grandmother started lobbying her legislators to make offenders financially liable by garnishing their wages.

The law is arousing great interest in many states due to the high prevalence of deadly DUI crashes throughout America, in which approximately 28 people die every day for a 2019 DUI fatality total of more than 10,000. With the governor’s expected signature, Tennessee is slated to become the first state in the country to actually enact the statute.

Over a Dozen Legislatures Now Considering This Law

According to Cecilia Williams, the idea behind the law is that since some people put a greater value on their money than on human lives, holding them financially accountable will make them think twice before they drive drunk again following a first DUI conviction. Under the proposed law, their financial penalty would not take the place of having to serve their time in jail. Williams is in favor of delivering this “double whammy” as an even stronger motivator to first-time offenders.

Through the tenacious advocacy of this one grieving grandmother, “Bentley’s Law” (as it was originally named) is now under consideration in one form or another by over a dozen state legislatures. The national advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving has also picked up the ball, putting the initiative on their website, where interested parties can petition their legislators to introduce similar laws in their own states.

Contact a Knowledgeable Knox County DUI Attorney

Driving under the influence is a serious offense in Tennessee, and the laws against it are constantly changing. If you are charged with a DUI, do not hesitate to contact an experienced Knoxville DUI lawyer, The Law Office of William F. Evans. We understand the ins and outs of this complex area of law and can negotiate on your behalf for reduced penalties or even a potential acquittal. So, call us right away at 423-449-7980 for a free consultation.



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