New Tennessee bill would require drunk drivers to pay child support for killing a parent

(NEW YORK) — A Tennessee bill that would require convicted drunk drivers to pay child support to minors is headed to the governor’s desk.

Drivers convicted of vehicular homicide, intoxication or aggravated vehicular homicide would be ordered by a court to pay “child maintenance,” or child support, if the victim was a parent, according to the bill.

The payments would continue until the child reaches the age of 18 and or has graduated from high school, according to the bill.

A spokesperson for Gov. Bill Lee told ABC News he will review the legislation when it reaches his desk. The bill passed unanimously in the State House and Senate.

“As I promised, I will do what it takes to protect the future of our most valuable resources, our children. I am proud of our leadership, in both the House and the Senate, to get this bill pushed forward to the point that it is heading to our Governor Bill Lee for his signature,” representative Mike Hall, who sponsored the bill, said in a post on Facebook.

He added, “Tennesseans care for each other and we will will do everything in our power to hold people accountable who chose to do harm.”

The bill leaves it to the court to determine the appropriate amount of money convicted drunk drivers would have to pay while taking into account the financial needs and resources of the child, the resources and needs of the child’s surviving parent or guardian and the standard of living to which the child is accustomed.

Drivers who are in incarcerated and unable to make payments have up to one year after their release to begin payment.

The bill also states that if the child’s surviving parent or guardian sues the defendant and obtains a judgment before the sentencing court, no child support payments will be ordered.

If a decision in a civil lawsuit comes after the sentencing court assigns child support, then the amount of judgment awarded in the civil action will be deducted from the child maintenance order.

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