Missouri invoice might require youngster help in DWI crashes

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri lawmakers are considering a bill requiring someone convicted of DWI that caused a crash killing a parent to pay child support to the victim’s children.

It is House Bill 1954, sponsored by Mike Henderson, R-Bonne Terre.

If passed, the bill would tell a judge to consider future financial needs of children left behind, their caregivers, the children’s physical and emotional needs, and any future child care needs.

“Right now they have civil action they can take. We all know that, but we also know one out of every seven drivers on the road are uninsured … so if you’re going to take civil action it’s usually with the insurance company … this bill doesn’t take away the civil action … but it gives them a chance to try to apply for child maintenance for the children left behind,” Henderson said.

“We’re not trying to put everybody back in prison … but just trying to get them to take some responsibility for these kids as they move forward,” he added.

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The bill was introduced in honor of a 4 month old Missouri boy named Bentley. He was killed in a crash involving a suspected drunk driver in April 2021, along with his father and his father’s fiancée.

Bentley’s mother, Cecelia Williams, tested before the House Committee on Crime Prevention following the deadly crash.

“I wanted to make sure that these children who don’t have their families were going to have that financial stability for them, so that when they go on in life, even going to further their career that that money was going to be there for them,” Williams said.

“By creating Bentley’s Law I believe that’s what’s going to help the children and it’s going to help people to think twice and not do it again,” he added.

If surviving parents or guardians would sue the person convicted of causing the crash, child support would either not be required or it would be factored into the civil award, according to the bill.

The committee is scheduled to vote on House Bill 1954 next week.

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