Tennessee Passes Bill to Force Drunk Drivers Who Kill a Parent to Pay Child Support
State Senate votes to pass legislation to support victims
A bill has passed in the Tennessee State Senate that will force drunk drivers to pay child support if they are convicted of killing a parent of a minor.
The legislation passed unanimously, according to CBS 46.
HB 1834, also known as “Ethan’s, Hailey’s, and Bentley’s Law,” would require intoxicated drivers convicted of vehicular homicide to pay child support if the victim of the offense was the parent of a minor child.
It had been amended to include the names of the children of fallen Chattanooga police officer Nicholas Galinger.
Galinger was killed by a drunk driver while on duty in February 2019.
The bill has already passed in the state’s House but has not been signed into law.
The legislation will now move to the desk of Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee.
A summary of the legislation states that “if a defendant is convicted of vehicular homicide due to intoxication or aggravated vehicular homicide and the victim of the offense was the parent of a minor child,” then the sentencing court must make the defendant pay “restitution in the form of child maintenance to each of the victim’s children.”
These payments would continue until each of the children turns 18 years old and graduates from high school, “or the class of which the child is a member when the child reached 18 years of age has graduated.”
It is the court’s responsibility to decide what the amount should be for the children, taking into account the “financial needs and resources of the child,” the financial demands of the child’s guardian or living parent, which also includes the state if applicable, and the “standard of living to which the child is accustomed.”
Officer Galinger, a 38-year-old rookie, was killed in a hit-and-run in February 2019 while inspecting a manhole cover.
The woman driving the car, Janet Hinds, was found guilty of vehicular homicide by intoxication and sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Prior to delivering the sentence, Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Don W. Poole said he believed Hinds was serious about her regret and that she didn’t intend to kill anybody, but she “did intentionally drink before getting into her vehicle.”
District Attorney Neal Pinkston requested that the court place the maximum sentence of 15 years, noting that Hinds had driven under the influence multiple times.
However, Ben McGowan, Hinds’ lawyer, requested consideration of the minimum sentence of eight years with “a life of 57-odd years of no criminal conduct” in mind.
Hinds has said she didn’t know she had hit a person that night and would have remained there if she had realized what had happened.
She apologized to her family and the Galinger family when she spoke before listening to her sentence.
“I know this apology may be inadequate for the Galinger family,” said Hinds.
“Nothing besides God will lessen the hurt that you feel, that I feel.”