Should DUI Offenders Pay Child Support?

In 2018, Tennessee enacted a law that requires DUI offenders to be financially responsible for the needs of children whose parents were killed in DUI-related accidents. This law, known as “Bentley’s Law,” is named after a 17-year-old girl who lost her parents in a DUI-related accident. In this article, we will discuss the details of Bentley’s Law and its implications for DUI offenders in Tennessee.

Background of Bentley’s Law

Bentley’s Law was enacted in response to a tragic accident that occurred in December 2017. On the night of December 23, 2017, a drunk driver crashed into the car of Tony and Patricia Forte, killing them both. The Fortes left behind a 17-year-old daughter, Bentley, who became the face of the fight for justice for victims of DUI-related accidents.

The law was proposed by Tennessee State Senator Todd Gardenhire and signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam in May 2018. The law requires that any person convicted of a DUI-related offense that results in the death of another person must pay child support for any children left behind by the victim.

Details of Bentley’s Law

Under Bentley’s Law, DUI offenders are required to pay child support until the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes later. The child support payments are calculated based on the Tennessee child support guidelines, which take into account the income of the offender, the number of children involved, and other factors.

In addition to child support payments, Bentley’s Law also allows the court to order the offender to pay for any medical, dental, or mental health expenses incurred by the child as a result of the accident. The court can also order the offender to pay for the child’s education expenses, including tuition, books, and fees.

Implications for DUI Offenders

Bentley’s Law has significant implications for DUI offenders in Tennessee. First and foremost, offenders who are convicted of DUI-related offenses that result in the death of another person will be required to pay child support for any children left behind by the victim. This financial obligation can be significant, especially if the offender has multiple children to support.

In addition, Bentley’s Law sends a message to DUI offenders that their actions have real consequences. Not only do they face criminal penalties for their actions, but they also face financial obligations that can last for years. This can serve as a deterrent to future DUI-related accidents and encourage offenders to take responsibility for their actions.

It is worth noting that Bentley’s Law does not apply to all DUI-related offenses. The law only applies to offenses that result in the death of another person. However, even for those offenders who are not subject to Bentley’s Law, the law serves as a reminder that DUI-related accidents can have serious consequences for all involved.

Preventing DUI-Related Accidents

The best way to prevent DUI-related accidents is to avoid drinking and driving altogether. If you plan to drink, make sure you have a designated driver or plan to use a ride-sharing service. Never get behind the wheel of a car if you have been drinking, even if you feel like you are not impaired.

If you do find yourself facing a DUI-related charge, it is important to work with an experienced DUI attorney who can help you navigate the legal system and minimize the consequences of your actions. While Bentley’s Law serves as a reminder of the consequences of DUI-related accidents, it is always better to avoid these situations altogether.

Will the Country Adopt Bentley’s Law?

Bentley’s Law is a significant step forward in holding DUI offenders responsible for their actions. By requiring offenders to pay child support for the children left behind by their victims, the law serves as a reminder that DUI-related accidents have real consequences.

However, as of now, the law is limited to the state of Tennessee. As time passes, more legislative bodies across the country are campaigning to ratify Bentley’s Law into their own state legislatures, which could change the face of DUI law in the United States forever. 

For example, states such as Texas, Connecticut, and Arkansas are in the process of applying this legislature to their own state constitutions. Treating these judgments as child support allows the state to garnish the payments directly from the convicted DUI offenders, meaning that evasion of these payments is impossible.

If you or a loved one has been charged with driving under the influence and you believe that you were falsely arrested, then use our free consultation form at the top of the screen for a confidential, no-obligation consultation with a DUI/DWI attorney or call us at (800) 384-5297.