Monday, March 06, 2023
Idea of making vehicular-homicide convicts pay child support for surviving children spreads ‘like wildfire’ in states
|Police video from the Los Angeles Times|
States are seeking stronger ways to tackle drunk driving but what seems fair to some is seen by others as duplication of relief. In more than a third of the states, legislators “have introduced some form of ‘Bentley’s Law,’ which would require impaired drivers who are convicted of vehicular homicide to pay child support for the surviving children of their victims,” reports Austin Jenkins of Pluribus News.
Tennessee was the first state to pass the law. “Missouri lawmakers considered the idea last year but did not pass it,” and bills in Mississippi and Virginia have died,” Jenkins reports. “MADD’s tracking shows most of the other bills are still in committee.” A bill similar to Tennessee’s is moving through Washington state’s legislature.
“In Virginia, the Family Law Coalition opposed the legislation,” Jenkins reports. Daniel Gray, the coalition’s chair, told Capital News, “There’s already a very expansive wrongful death statute that people can take advantage of and get relief of the type that this bill is trying to introduce.” Jenkins adds, “Concerns have been raised in some states about the logistics of implementing the child support requirement.”
Jenkins reports, “State lawmakers are paying fresh attention to the issue of drunk and drugged driving amid a concerning rise in roadway fatalities, including a 14% increase in alcohol-impaired driving deaths from 2019 to 2020. That trend has prompted some states to consider lowering the legal drunk driving limit from .08% blood-alcohol concentration to .05%. There are also proposals to expand the use of ignition interlock devices to prevent repeat drunk drivers.”