New Texas law forces drunk drivers to pay child support if they kill a minor’s parent or guardian

The amount to be paid by the offender will be imposed by the court based on various factors surrounding the child’s living conditions.

A new Texas law will force drunk drivers to pay child support if they kill a parent or guardian of a minor in a car accident.

Beginning last Friday, bipartisan legislation went into effect requiring anyone convicted of drunk driving manslaughter to pay child support if the victim had a child.

Under the so-called “Bentley Law,” intoxication manslaughter is that which occurs when a person who operates “a motor vehicle in a public place, operates an aircraft, watercraft, or amusement ride, or assembles a moving amusement ride; and is intoxicated and by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another by accident or mistake.”

The legislation explains that the offender will have to make payments until the child reaches the age of majority or graduates from high school “whichever is later.” In the event the driver is unable to make the payments because he or she is incarcerated, he or she is expected to comply no later than “the first anniversary of the date” of his or her release. The punishment for this offense in Texas can be up to two decades in prison.

The law also states that it will be up to the court to determine the amount the driver must pay. This will be decided based on the child’s financial needs and resources, the resources of the representatives who survived the accident, the standard of living to which the child is accustomed, among other factors.

Greg Abbott “proud” to sign the bill

Texas Governor Greg Abbott celebrated the state’s passage of this legislation and that he was the one to sign it into law.

“Anytime a parent dies is tragic, but death at the hands of a drunk driver is especially heinous. I was proud to enact HB 393 this year to require offenders to pay child support for the children of their victims,” he said.

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