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.
On April 13, 2021, Cecilia’s family members, including her son Cordell, daughter-in-law Lacy, and infant grandson, were involved in a fiery crash caused by a person driving under the influence of alcohol. 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 if a drunk driver causes an accident resulting in the death of a child’s parent or guardian, they are legally obligated to pay child support to the surviving child or children. This financial responsibility aims to ensure that the affected children are provided for, especially in the absence of their primary caregivers.
Following the tragic loss of her family members, Cecilia Williams worked diligently to get Bentley’s Law passed. Her efforts were not limited to Texas; she also pushed for the legislation to be introduced and passed in several other states, including Missouri and Tennessee. In Tennessee, the bill was signed into law by Governor Bill Lee on May 25.
Cecilia’s advocacy for Bentley’s Law is a testament to her resilience and determination to ensure that DUI offenders are held 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 the creation and advocacy of Bentley’s Law, turning her grief into a purposeful mission to ensure that DUI offenders are held 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, the grandson of Cecilia Williams. In a heart-wrenching incident on April 13, 2021, Cecilia’s son, Cordell Williams, his fiancée, Lacey Newton, and their 4-month-old son, Cordell II, were all tragically killed in a DUI-related accident. This devastating event spurred Cecilia Williams to advocate for a change in the law, ensuring that those responsible for such tragedies are held accountable in more ways than just criminal charges.
Liability for Child Support
The primary provision of Bentley’s Law is that if a drunken driver causes an accident resulting in the death of a child’s parent or guardian, they are legally obligated to 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; it is based on several factors, including the child’s educational needs, medical requirements of the child, 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).
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.
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.
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, there are state fines assessed upon sentencing, which can be $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 kill someone while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you can be charged with intoxicated vehicular 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 can be applied when a person’s negligence leads to the death of another. For example, if a driver’s extreme carelessness or disregard for safety results in a fatal accident, they might be charged with criminally negligent homicide.
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.
Potential Legal Challenges
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.
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