The consequences of a DUI conviction are wide-ranging. Depending on the severity of the crime, outcomes can take the form of a mandated breathalyzer installed in a vehicle, driver’s license revocation, and long-term incarceration.
A recently passed Tennessee law would add a new penalty to those found guilty of vehicular homicide by intoxication or aggravated vehicular homicide by intoxication. Judges will order those found guilty of fatal drunk driving to pay restitution and child support for surviving offspring of the victims until they reach 18.
The law provides time to offenders up to one year after their release to start the installments. If the child turns 18 but has not received what is owed them, the individual convicted is forced to continue sending money until the debt is paid off.
The origins of a controversial law
The formal name of the law is Ethan, Hailey and Bentley’s Law, named after the children of the late Chattanooga Police Officer Nicholas Galinger, who was killed by a drunk driver in 2019. He was struck while inspecting a manhole in Chattanooga late at night. The officer was rushed to a local hospital and died while the driver left the scene of the accident.
The bill was signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee on May 25th, going into effect on June 1st.
Testimony revealed that the suspect’s blood alcohol content was between .14 to .18 percent when the collision occurred. She was subsequently convicted and sentenced to 11 years in prison. However, because the law passed after her conviction, Hinds does not have to pay restitution.
Driving under the influence is a serious crime with equally serious consequences. Adding defacto child support to the penalties only increases the severity of accusations. Help from a skilled DUI attorney is of paramount importance to secure the best possible outcome and protect suspects’ rights.