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Misty Severi, Breaking News Reporter


NextImg:New Texas law forces drunk drivers to pay child support if they kill parent or legal guardian

A new law that went into effect in Texas on Friday requires drunk drivers who kill the parent or legal guardian of a child to pay child support.

A drunk driver responsible for a death will be required to pay child support until the youth is either 18 or has graduated from high school, whichever comes later, according to the bipartisan House Bill 393. The legislation was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) on June 2 but it did not go into effect until Sep. 1, 2023, alongside approximately 100 other bills.

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"Any time a parent passes is tragic, but a death at the hands of a drunk driver is especially heinous," Abbott posted to X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, on July 25th. "I was proud to sign HB 393 into law this year to require offenders to pay child support for the children of their victims."

No amount of child support was set in the bill, but the monthly payment will be determined by the court based on the financial needs of the child and surviving parent or guardian, and the financial resources of the driver.

The money will go to the legal guardian, parent, or child services if the child is placed with them instead of a family member, and the payments will start a year after the defendant is released from prison if they are unable to pay while incarcerated.

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"The defendant must pay all arrearages regardless of whether the restitution payments were scheduled to terminate while the defendant was confined or imprisoned in the correctional facility," the law states.

The new law is named Bentley's Law, after a Missouri woman who lost her son, her daughter-in-law, and granddaughter to a drunk driver in 2021. The law only applies to crashes that occur after the legislation went into effect.