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More than 20 states considering 'Bentley's Law' DUI legislation

In July, Tennessee became the first state to pass 'Bentley's Law', which requires drunk drivers who kill a parent to pay child support until the child is 18.

BONNE TERRE, Mo. — A St. Francois County woman is making it her mission to punish drunk drivers by hitting them in the wallet.

"Life ain't the same and it never will be,” said Cecilia Williams.

April 13, 2021, a knock at the door changed Cecilia Williams life forever.

"I got up out of bed to an officer and a state trooper standing at my door,” said Williams. “What they told me I didn't expect."

Williams' son, daughter-in-law, and grandson were killed when they were hit by a drunk driver along Highway 30 in Jefferson County.

"They repeatedly told me that they had died in a fiery crash,” said Williams.

It was in that moment that Williams decided something had to change.

"I made a promise to my kids, and my grandson, and other people that I was going to do what I could to stop people from driving under the influence,” said Williams.

Working with local legislators she drew up legislation that has become known as 'Bentley's Law'.

"It requires drunk drivers who kill a parent or parents to pay a child maintenance,” said Williams. “That child maintenance will go until the child or children turns 18 unless they seek a secondary education."

Tennessee became the first state to sign 'Bentley’s Law' into law in July and similar legislation has been introduced in 24 other states.

"I'm hoping that by December we have all of the states in the United States,” said Williams.

Though the bill originated in Missouri it failed during the 2022 spring session in the Show Me State.

"It was one of those bills that there wasn't enough information simply because many of these drunk drivers may not have the funds to do that, so who in fact would pay those costs,” said Rep. Trish Gunby.

"I think if they can afford to do them things they can afford to pay for the child that they killed their family,” said Williams.  “We're not going to just sit back."

“I would certainly be willing to listen, and learn more about it, and perhaps ultimately support it in the end,” said Rep. Gunby.

That's why Williams is reworking the bill with the goal of reintroducing it this winter with bi-partisan support.

"I do it for everybody,” said Williams. “For every single family that has ever single family that has ever been a victim.  I do it for future victims because nobody deserves to go through this."

For more information on Bentley’s Law click here.

    


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