New Law Requires Convicted Drunk Drivers Who Kill a Parent to Pay Child Support for Surviving Children

NASHVILLE — Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) applauds Governor Bill Lee for signing Ethan’s, Hailey’s and Bentley’s Law in a ceremony today at the Tennessee Capitol.

The legislation was created by Missouri resident Cecilia Williams and named for her grandson, Bentley, whose parents Lacey Newton and Cordell Shawn Michael Williams and their 4-month-old son, Cordell Shawn Michael Williams II, were killed in an alleged drunk driving crash on April 13, 2021. The Tennessee law, which also honors fallen Chattanooga Police Officer Nicholas Galinger’s children Ethan and Hailey, requires an impaired driver who kills a parent or parents to pay child support for the surviving children until they are 18.

Cecilia Williams holds the signed copy of Ethan’s, Hailey’s and Bentley’s Law at the Tennessee State Capitol on July 7, 2022.

“Bentley’s Law was created out of a tragedy that has affected the lives of two beautiful boys, Bentley and Mason, and the lives of our family,” said Cecilia Williams. “These crashes are totally preventable, and I will continue to fight for change for all who have suffered from impaired drivers. Many families like mine suffer such a loss every second of every day, and Bentley’s Law will bring change to hold the offender accountable for such horrific actions.”

For victims of impaired drivers, this new law provides another avenue of restitution to help ensure justice. Versions of Bentley’s Law are in progress in at least 20 other states. MADD supports Bentley’s Law and similar bills that hold drunk driving offenders accountable.

“The idea behind Bentley’s Law is to both provide a sense of justice to victims and survivors and make sure offenders are reminded of the heartbreak they caused by making the choice to drive impaired,” said MADD National Board Chair Andrew Robinson. “MADD is grateful for Cecilia’s commitment to preventing other families from experiencing the trauma that her family lives through every day. We thank Senator Mike Bell and Representative Mark Hall for championing this legislation.”

Senator Bell and Representative Hall celebrated the new law.

“I was honored to work with MADD and Representative Hall to get this important change of law passed to ensure that drunk drivers are held accountable for their actions,” said Senator Mike Bell.

Said Representative Mark Hall: “The days of drunk driving without accountability are over with. It is our goal to seek a concentrated effort to move the needle in a positive direction – holding DUI offenders accountable and protecting our most valuable resource, our children.”

Cecilia Williams, right, and her cousin and Tennessee resident Diane Sutton with Tennessee Senator Mike Bell, who sponsored Ethan’s, Hailey’s and Bentley’s Law in the Senate.

Cecilia Williams with Tennessee Representative Mark Hall, House sponsor of Ethan’s Hailey’s and Bentley’s Law.

MADD National Board Chairman Andrew Robinson celebrates the new law with Cecilia Williams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save more than 400,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.

Contact:  Becky Iannotta, 202.600.2032, becky.iannotta@madd.org