In a significant development, Texas has enacted a new law that imposes financial responsibility on convicted drunk drivers to support the children of the individuals they have fatally harmed.
House Bill 393, which was passed recently, establishes the requirement for individuals convicted of intoxicated manslaughter to provide child support for the dependents of their victims. Under this legislation, these individuals are expected to make consistent payments until the child reaches the age of 18 or completes their high school education.
If the offender is unable to fulfill their financial obligations due to incarceration, the law mandates that payments must commence no later than the first anniversary of their release date. This pivotal legislation was signed into law by Texas’ Republican Governor, Greg Abbott, in June.
Governor Abbott expressed his satisfaction with the new law, stating, “I was proud to sign HB 393 into law this year, making it mandatory for offenders to contribute child support for the families of their victims. Any loss of a parent is a tragedy, but when it occurs at the hands of a drunk driver, it is especially reprehensible.”
According to the state’s legal framework, intoxication manslaughter is defined as the act of operating a motor vehicle in a public place, piloting an aircraft, commanding a watercraft, or managing an amusement ride while intoxicated, resulting in the accidental death of another individual.
Notably, Texas is not the first state to implement such legislation. Tennessee took a pioneering step in this direction last year when House Bill 1834 was introduced. This move came just one month before the sentencing of Janet Hinds, who, while driving under the influence, fatally struck Chattanooga police officer Nicholas Galinger on February 23, 2019.
Officer Galinger, aged 38, had only graduated from the police academy one month prior and was performing an inspection of an overflowing manhole cover when the tragic incident occurred.