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Tennessee Law Imposes Child Support Obligations on Parties that Cause DUI Collisions That Kill Parents

People that cause drunk driving fatalities often face significant criminal penalties, including jail time and fines. In some states, if a person killed in a drunk driving crash was the parent of a minor child, the person that caused the collision may have to pay child support as well. Tennessee is the most recent state to introduce such legislation via a law named after children left behind when their parents died in drunk driving collisions. The law indicates a movement to dissuade people from driving while intoxicated by increasing penalties, and similar legislation was previously bought in Illinois. If you are charged with causing a DUI collision, it is smart to speak to an Illinois DUI defense attorney about your possible defenses.

The Tennessee Legislation

It is reported that a 2023 Tennessee law requires people who cause drunk driving accidents that kill parents to pay child support for any surviving children. Specifically, the law dictates that if a person is convicted of vehicular homicide due to intoxication and the person killed in the accident was the parent of a child under the age of majority, the sentencing court must order the defendant to pay restitution in the form of maintenance to each child left behind by the victim.

Allegedly, the support obligation will endure until the child reaches the age of eighteen or graduates from high school. The courts must determine what constitutes a reasonable and necessary support obligation based on all relevant factors, including the child’s financial resources and needs, the financial resources and needs of any surviving parent, and the standard of living the child is accustomed to enjoying. The law was created by a drafted resident of Missouri after her grandson, Bentley, was orphaned by a drunk driving accident; the statute is named Ethan’s Hailey’ and Bentley’s Law.

DUI Penalties in Illinois

Under current Illinois law, aggravated DUI offenses that result in death are punishable by three to fourteen years in prison if they caused the death of one victim and six to twenty-eight years in prison in cases involving the death of two or more people. People convicted of aggravated DUI resulting in death may also be fined up to $25,000 and will lose their driving privileges for a minimum of two years.

While Illinois law does not allow for the courts to impose child support obligations on people who drive while intoxicated and cause collisions that kill parents, a bill was proposed during the 2022 state legislative session that would allow for such penalties. The bill ultimately failed, and it is unclear whether similar legislation will be introduced in the future.

Speak to an Experienced Illinois DUI Defense Attorney

People convicted of DUI crimes face significant penalties, and there is a movement among lawmakers throughout the country to increase the punishments imposed for DUI offenses. If you are charged with a DUI offense, it is in your best interest to speak to an Illinois criminal defense lawyer about your options for seeking a favorable outcome. Attorney Theodore J. Harvatin of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC, is an experienced DUI defense attorney with the skills and resources needed to help people assert compelling defenses, and if you hire him, he will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can contact Mr. Harvatin via the form online or at 217.525.0520 to set up a conference.

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