Drink drivers in Tennessee will now be forced to pay child support if they kill a parent in a crash
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A new Tennessee law requires drunk drivers to pay child support if they kill the parents of a minor in a car crash.
Under this law, a person convicted of vehicular homicide or aggravated vehicular homicide due to intoxication must pay child support if the victim is the parent of a minor.
The legislation was approved last year and kicked into gear at the beginning of the year.
Ethan, Hailey and Bentley's Law requires convicted drivers to hand over the cash until the child turns 18 and graduates from high school.
Fox 13 Memphis reported Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Cecilia Williams, who is raising her two grandchildren after her son and partner were killed in a drunk driving incident, were driving forces behind the law.
Moms Against Drunk Driving regional director, Alex Otte, told the news outlet: "She ended up taking custody of all of their children.
“She talks a lot about how grandparents, their children are already raised they don’t expect this expense."
Otte added: "We want people to understand you will be held accountable for this decision, but not only that.
“The decision to do so affects so many lives.”
The law is named after two children whose father, Chattanooga Police Officer Nicholas Galinger, was killed by a drunk driver in 2019.
The convicted driver, an intoxicated Janet Hinds, had struck Officer Galinger while he was inspecting an overflowing manhole cover.
Almost four years later, his father, Barry Galinger, told Local 3 News: "You never get over it. Don't let anyone tell you that you do. You don't."
Galinger became a huge advocate for the bill and even tried to have it pass in time to assist Dustin and Brittany Dillard's three surviving children.
Patricke Conley was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide and three counts of assault by intoxication after killing the two parents on Christmas day in 2022.
Conley has pleaded not guilty to both charges, but if he's convicted, he will be required to pay child support under the new law.
Galinger’s family attorney Ben Rose told the outlet: "If there is no other compensation to help the children, it's a way to substitute the father, if you will, or the parent, if you will, to support that child."
While the law hasn’t been passed quickly enough to help his own grandchildren, Galinger believes this is just ‘the beginning’.
He added: "Hopefully, it won't be the end."