The Future of Drunk Driving Penalties

Traditionally, the penalty for Driving Under the Influence is similar across the country. A person will usually be faced with jail, costly fines, and court costs. When the charge is elevated due to circumstances such as death or serious bodily injury, the penalties dramatically increase to a felony conviction. However, recently there have been changes in certain states that may pave the way for the future of DUI penalties.

A Tennessee bill that would require drunk drivers to pay child support if they killed a parent of a minor due to intoxication or aggravated vehicular homicide, has passed through the state’s legislature. The bill is named “Ethan, Hailey, and Bently’s Law” after children who lost their parents to intoxicated drivers. Ethan and Hailey are the children of a former Chattanooga police officer who was struck and killed by a drunk driver. The other name in the bill, Bently, is the name of the grandson of a Missouri woman who’s son had been killed by a drunk driver.

The thought process behind the bill is that long-term, financially tangible, penalty’s may act as a better deterrent than the current penalties on the books.
“House Bill 1834 would require a person who is convicted of vehicular homicide to pay restitution in the form of child maintenance if their victim was the parent of a minor child. Each child of the victim would receive the restitution until they reach 18 years old and graduate high school. The payments are similar to traditional child support, in which a parent pays the primary caregiver of their child until that child becomes a legal adult at 18.

The amount of the payments will be determined by the financial needs and resources of the child and their surviving parent or guardian, including the state, if the child is in the custody of the Department of Children’s Services. Also similar to traditional child support, the standard of living the child will also be a factor in determining the amount of the payments.

“If the defendant is incarcerated and unable to pay the required child maintenance, they have one year after their release from incarceration to begin paying.”

New laws like the Ethan, Hailey, and Bently’s Law in Tennessee are likely to become increasingly more popular around the country. State legislatures tend to pattern similar laws from sister states on drunk driving statutes. Loss of life, in any circumstance, is difficult and unsettling, especially when children become victims. Accidents, misjudgments, and mistakes are made by everyone and drunk driving mistakes can have life altering affects to you, your family, and everyone involved. As DUI penalties become more severe, those persons charged with drunk driving should always seek qualified representation.

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney
When you are searching the state of Mississippi for a qualified, experienced DUI defense attorney, look no further than Vic Carmody Jr., P.A. No matter the circumstances of your case, the sooner you get in touch with a qualified DUI defense attorney, the better chance you have for a favorable outcome. Over the years, we have helped countless defendants who have been charged with DUI’s. Please call us for a free consultation today, and we can help you defend yourself when you are arrested and charged with a DUI in Mississippi.
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