Someone accused of a driving under the influence (DUI) offense in Tennessee risks multiple potential penalties. A guilty plea or conviction could lead to incarceration, large fines and possibly also their driver’s license consequences.
In some cases, there may also be civil penalties possible after a DUI conviction in Tennessee. Those affected by the crash could file a lawsuit against the driver accused of the DUI offense. Such lawsuits could now potentially lead to far more significant financial losses for the defendant.
A new law in Tennessee expands the potential financial consequences that someone could face after causing a DUI crash.
What is the new law?
In 2023, Tennessee lawmakers adopted numerous new DUI statutes. One of those new laws, named Bentley’s, Ethan’s and Hailey’s Law, creates financial liability for those at fault for fatal drunk driving crashes. The law takes its name from several young Tennesseans who lost crucial support after a loved one’s death in a drunk driving crash.
Those accused of causing a crash while under the influence were always at risk of personal injury lawsuits brought by the people they hurt or wrongful death lawsuits when someone died. A wrongful death lawsuit can lead to an order to cover many expenses, including someone’s future income. However, the limits on who could file such lawsuits and the compensation available left some people without the support they needed.
When the person who dies in a crash is a parent with a minor child, the surviving child loses not just the love of a parent but also years of financial support. Under Bentley’s, Ethan’s and Hailey’s Law, drivers who cause crashes that kill a child’s parent(s) can end up responsible for paying child support until that child reaches adulthood.
Financial responsibility for child support after a DUI crash could affect someone’s finances for years and lead to major economic challenges. Bentley’s, Ethan’s and Hailey’s Law serves as both a source of compensation for those grieving and a form of additional punishment for those who cause collisions.
Fighting against a DUI charge is one of the most viable means of limiting the consequences possible after a crash.