Central Texas (Fox 44) – A new Texas law will force drunk drivers who cause the death of parents to pay for child support. Come this Friday, Sept. 1st, House Bill 393 or ‘Bentley’s law’ — goes into effect.
The law is named after a young boy who lost his parents after a drunk driver in Missouri caused a fatal accident. It’s an initiative to crack down on drunk driving. Central Texas Mothers Against Drunk driving, or ‘M.A.D.D’, says it’s about both prevention and accountability.
Jacqueline Shaw says M.A.D.D. is educated and ready to assist anyone who is impacted by the passing of House Bill 393.
“To see them go through this, losing a family member and having to go through the criminal justice process. Then on top of the financial strain, it is a lot because there’s not a lot of resources out there,” Shaw.
When a deadly crash happens at the hands of an intoxicated driver, many children are left without parents– and a support system. Now, the state of Texas has its back. Bentley’s law will require anyone convicted of intoxication manslaughter to pay child support if they kill a parent with young children in a car crash.
“I hope that deters people from drinking and driving because this is a 100% preventable crime,” Shaw says.
The penalty they would have to pay includes factors such as the financial resources of any surviving guardian, as well as the “standard of living to which the child is accustomed to.” If someone can’t pay because they’re imprisoned…
“It will take into effect one year after they are released from prison. And then it’s until the child turns 18,” says Shaw.
Bentley’s law has gained support from Mother’s Against Drunk Driving–the organization that supports victims of drunk driving–offering resources and guiding them through the criminal justice system.
“I deal with the victims directly and it’s very it’s very sad,” says Shaw.
She says M.A.D.D. is educated and ready to assist anyone who is impacted by the passing of House Bill 393.
“So getting that support, and especially nowadays with the financial strain, I think it will help them through the hard time. Especially on top of them grieving,” Shaw says.
In 2021 Texas saw more than 25,000 DUI-alcohol-related crashes. In the Waco district, there were 716 DUI-alcohol-related traffic crashes, resulting in 32 fatalities and 91 serious injuries.