Friday, September 8, 2023

Texans Guilty of Intoxicated Manslaughter Must Pay Child Support Under New Law; Law Requiring Drunk Drivers to Pay Child Support if Parents Killed May Face Challenges

AP Photo/Eric Gay, File
Texans guilty of intoxicated manslaughter must pay child support under new law
Under a new state law that went into effect Friday, Texas motorists who are convicted of intoxicated manslaughter that kill a child’s parent or parents in the crash will now have to pay child support.
The new law stipulates that the court will determine how much a victim’s child is owed each month until the child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever date comes later.
The amount of financial restitution, the law’s text reads, is determined by the monetary needs of the child and the child’s guardian, the child’s previous standard of living, the child’s physical and emotional state and educational needs, the child’s residential and custodial situation, and the childcare expenses of the child’s guardian.
If the defendant cannot pay due to being imprisoned, they will have to start payments no more than one year after being released. The law also allows defendants to enter into payment plans; any arrears left upon release will have to be paid, even if the restitution end date passed while the defendant was imprisoned.
Texas House Bill 393 was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott in June. Under Texas criminal law, intoxicated manslaughter also refers to deaths caused by drunk airplane and boat pilots, as well as amusement park ride operators.
In a post on X in late July, Gov. Abbott, a Republican, 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.”
The Texas law is also known as “Bentley’s Law,” along with other similar statutes in other states. The name stems from Bentley Williams, a Missouri child left orphaned by a car crash on April 13, 2021. --->READ MORE HERE
Law requiring drunk drivers to pay child support if parents killed may face challenges
The State of Texas is taking a dramatic step to discourage drunk driving with a new law that takes effect on Friday.
Drunk drivers who kill the parents of children will be required to pay child support.
Legal experts say that while it sounds like a good idea, it does come with challenges.
"My parents were amazing people and truly pillars of their community," said Erin Bowers, whose parents were killed by a drunk driver.
Bowers was only 6 months old when a drunk driver in 1985 prevented her from ever knowing her parents.
"Every happy memory or happy holiday event that happens there's always a bit of sadness to it," Bowers said.
The Texas mother now advocates for tougher drunk driving laws, including a new one that takes effect on Friday, which would require drivers like the one who killed her parents to pay child support to their victim's kids.
"We're gonna put a stop to people making these bad decisions," said Bowers.
"It's probably gonna take some time to kind of work out some of the kinks," said Marie Briner, with the Briner Family Law Group --->READ MORE HERE
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