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The Making of Bentley’s Law

The Creator Of Bentley’s Law: Cecilia Williams

Cecilia Williams is a Missouri resident who took the initiative to lead the campaign for Bentley’s Law. The law is named after her grandson, Bentley. The tragic backstory that led to the creation of this law is deeply personal for Cecilia. Her son, Cordell Williams, his fiancée, Lacey Newton, and their 4-month-old son, Cordell II, were all tragically killed in a DUI-related accident.

The Tragedy

On April 13, 2021, a person driving under the influence of alcohol caused a fiery crash involving Cecilia’s family members, including her son Cordell, daughter-in-law Lacy, and infant grandson. This devastating incident was the catalyst for Cecilia’s determination to bring about a change in the law.

The Objective of Bentley’s Law

The primary goal of Bentley’s Law is to impose financial responsibility on DUI offenders. Specifically, the law mandates that a drunk driver must legally pay child support to the surviving child or children if their actions cause an accident resulting in the death of a child’s parent or guardian. This financial responsibility aims to ensure that the affected children are provided for, especially in the absence of their primary caregivers.

Cecilia’s Advocacy

Following the tragic loss of her family members, Cecilia Williams worked diligently to pass Bentley’s Law. She pushed for the legislation not only in Texas but also in several other states, including Missouri and Tennessee. In Tennessee, Governor Bill Lee signed the bill into law on May 25.

Cecilia’s advocacy for Bentley’s Law testifies to her resilience and determination to hold DUI offenders accountable for their actions, not just legally but also financially. By pushing for this legislation, Cecilia aims to deter potential drunk drivers and ensure that affected families receive some form of financial support.

Cecilia Williams’ efforts highlight the impact that individuals can have in bringing about legislative change. Through her advocacy for Bentley’s Law, she has turned her personal tragedy into a powerful movement to protect and support other families affected by the reckless actions of drunk drivers.

In summary, Cecilia Williams played a pivotal role in creating and advocating for Bentley’s Law, turning her grief into a purposeful mission to ensure the law holds DUI offenders financially accountable for their actions.

Bentley’s Law In Texas

Bentley’s Law, officially known as Texas House Bill 393, is a significant piece of legislation in Texas that addresses the consequences faced by drunken drivers, especially when their actions result in the tragic loss of a child’s parent or guardian. The law mandates that these drivers are financially responsible for supporting the affected child or children.

The tragic impetus behind Bentley’s Law is deeply personal. The legislation is named after Bentley, Cecilia Williams’ grandson. In a heart-wrenching incident on April 13, 2021, a DUI-related accident tragically killed Cecilia’s son, Cordell Williams, his fiancée, Lacey Newton, and their 4-month-old son, Cordell II. This devastating event spurred Cecilia Williams to advocate for a change in the law, ensuring that the law holds those responsible for such tragedies accountable in more ways than just criminal charges.

Liability for Child Support

The primary provision of Bentley’s Law states that if a drunken driver causes an accident resulting in the death of a child’s parent or guardian, they must legally pay child support to the surviving child or children.

Duration of Support

The law mandates that the liable party must provide child support until the child reaches the age of 18 or completes high school, whichever is later. This provision ensures that the child’s basic needs are met during their formative years, even in the absence of their primary caregiver.

Determining the Amount

The court plays a pivotal role in determining the monthly child support amount. The amount is not arbitrary; several factors determine it, including the child’s educational needs, the child’s medical requirements, reasonable child care costs, and the standard of living the child was accustomed to before the tragic event.

Provisions for Incarcerated Individuals

Bentley’s Law is comprehensive and considers the situation where the offender might be incarcerated. Recognizing that those incarcerated might not have the means to make immediate payments, the law provides a provision for them. They can start payments within a year of their release and can also opt for a payment plan to manage any arrearage that accumulates during their time in prison. However, all arrearages must be paid in full, irrespective of the original payment schedule.

Significance and Impact of Bentley’s Law

The law emphasizes the financial responsibility that comes with the irreversible harm caused by drunken driving. While no amount of money can truly compensate for the loss of a loved one, ensuring the financial well-being of the affected child is a step in the right direction.

By imposing a financial obligation, Bentley’s Law also acts as a deterrent. The potential financial implications might make potential offenders think twice before getting behind the wheel under the influence.

For families affected by such tragedies, Bentley’s Law offers a semblance of justice. It ensures that the offender is held accountable not just criminally but also financially.

Bentley’s Law, or Texas House Bill 393, stands as a testament to Texas’s commitment to holding individuals accountable for their actions, especially when they result in the loss of life. By ensuring that affected children receive financial support, the state recognizes the long-term impact of such tragedies and takes a step towards easing the burden on these young lives. The law serves as a poignant reminder of the profound consequences of drunken driving and underscores the importance of responsible behavior on the road.

Other Consequences For Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).

First Offense

Fine: Up to a $2,000 fine.

Jail Time: Up to 180 days in jail upon conviction with a mandatory three days.

License Suspension: Loss of driver’s license for up to a year.

Second Offense

Fine: Up to a $4,000 fine.

Jail Time: Jail time ranging from one month to a year upon conviction.

License Suspension: Loss of driver’s license for up to two years.

Third Offense:

Fine: A fine of up to $10,000.

Prison Time: A prison sentence ranging from two to ten years.

In addition to the above fines, the state assesses fines upon sentencing, which are $3,000 for the first offense, $4,500 for the second offense, and $6,000 for the third offense.

Impaired Driving with a Child Passenger

If you are caught driving impaired with children under the age of 15 in the vehicle, you will face additional penalties such as an additional fine of up to $10,000. And with the possibility of incarnation for up to two years. You may also lose your driver’s license for an additional 180 days.

Driving with an Open Container

Even if you’re not impaired, carrying an open container of alcohol in your vehicle is illegal in Texas. There are specific Texas open container laws that detail the penalties for this offense.

It’s important to note that these penalties are in place to deter individuals from driving under the influence and to ensure the safety of all road users. The state of Texas has zero tolerance for impaired driving, especially when it puts the lives of others at risk.

Can You Also Be Charged With Vehicular Manslaughter

In Texas, if you drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs and kill someone, authorities can charge you with intoxicated vehicular manslaughter.

Intoxication Manslaughter

This is a specific charge in Texas that applies when a person operates a vehicle while intoxicated and causes the death of another individual. Intoxication manslaughter is considered a second-degree felony in Texas. Convicted individuals generally face up to two to 20 years in prison. Including a fine of up to $10,000 and there may be additional penalties may apply based on the circumstances of the incident such as the new Bentley’s Law.

Criminally Negligent Homicide

This charge applies when a person’s negligence causes another’s death. For example, authorities might charge a driver with criminally negligent homicide if their extreme carelessness or disregard for safety leads to a fatal accident.

It’s important to note that the exact charges and penalties can vary based on the specifics of the incident, the evidence presented, and other factors. The legal system in Texas takes vehicular manslaughter and related charges very seriously, especially when alcohol or drugs are involved. The state aims to hold individuals accountable for their actions and deter others from engaging in similar reckless behavior.

Social Consequences That Can Come From Bentleys Law

The introduction and enforcement of Bentley’s Law can raise awareness about the severe consequences of drunk driving. It can serve as a focal point for educational campaigns, emphasizing the long-term impact of driving under the influence.

As with any new law, there might be legal challenges or disputes regarding its implementation. Issues related to the determination of child support amounts, the offender’s ability to pay, and other related matters might arise.

Rehabilitation and Reintegration

Offenders might face challenges in reintegrating into society, especially if they are burdened with child support payments. This could lead to an increased emphasis on rehabilitation programs for drunk drivers, ensuring they can become productive members of society and fulfill their financial obligations.

Shift in Public Perception

Bentley’s Law might lead to a shift in public perception regarding the seriousness of drunk driving. The law underscores the idea that the consequences of driving under the influence extend beyond the immediate aftermath of an accident.

In conclusion, Bentley’s Law is expected to have a profound impact on drunk driving in Texas. By introducing financial accountability for offenders and ensuring the well-being of affected children, the law aims to deter potential offenders and emphasize the long-term consequences of driving under the influence. Only time will tell the full extent of its impact, but it’s a step in the right direction towards ensuring justice and accountability.

Need Help? Call Us Now!

Do not forget that when you or anyone you know is facing a criminal charge, you have us, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, by your side to help you build the best defense case for you. We will work and be in your best interest for you and we will obtain the best possible outcome that can benefit you. We can explain everything you need to know about your trial and how to defend your case best. We can help you step by step through the criminal process.

Therefore, do not hesitate to call us if you find yourself or someone you know that is facing criminal charges unsure about the court system. We will work with you to give you the best type of defense that can help you solve your case. It is vital to have someone explain the result of the charge to you and guide you in the best possible way.

At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, our professional and knowledgeable criminal law attorneys actively build a defense case tailored to your needs for the best possible outcome that benefits you.

Also, here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, you are given a free consultation at your convenience. You may choose to have your appointment via Zoom, google meet, email, or an in-person appointment; and we will provide you with as much advice and information as possible so you can have the best possible result in your case.

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