The victims of drunk and drugged drivers aren’t just the people injured or killed on the road. Their family members and loved ones suffer as well – emotionally and financially.
A bill under consideration in the Alabama House of Representatives would mandate that anyone convicted of DUI in a fatal crash that kills a parent or guardian of a child pay to support their children. That support could be mandated even if the victims’ children become wards of the state.
Other states are considering similar legislation
The representative behind the DUI and Child Compensation and Recovery Act, who used to be a police officer in Decatur, says he modeled the legislation on a bill introduced in the Missouri state legislature last year. In fact, the woman behind that bill, who is raising her two grandchildren after their parents were killed by a drunk driver, wants to see laws passed in every state that would help people like her. The Tennessee House of Representatives recently passed such legislation unanimously.
The amount of support to be paid would be determined by judges, based in part on the standard of living the children would have had if their parents had survived as well as the financial resources of those who will be caring for them. Since impaired drivers who cause fatalities are often incarcerated, the Alabama bill would give them up to a year to begin making payments, along with interest accrued during that time.
Civil lawsuits would still be allowed
The Alabama Association of Justice supports the bill. However, the group wants surviving family members to understand that they still have a right to sue the drunk driver in civil court ‘for the injuries, pain and loss caused by the wrongdoer,” according to its president.
Alabama, like every other state, has too many crashes caused by people who are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. In 2020, 166 people were killed by drivers who were under the influence.
While this legislation has a way to go before becoming law, it’s crucial for anyone who has been injured or who has lost a loved one in a DUI-related crash knows their rights for holding the driver who caused it legally and financially responsible, in addition to any criminal charges they’re facing.