How a new Texas law helps victims of impaired drivers

On Behalf of | Sep 17, 2023 | Car Accidents |

This summer, Texas joined other states that are increasing the stakes for people who cause fatal crashes while driving under the influence. Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law that adds payment of child support (restitution) to the list of consequences for those convicted of intoxication manslaughter when the parent or legal guardian of a minor child is killed. 

This restitution needs to be paid until the minor turns 18 or, if they’re still in high school, 19. Since this charge also comes with a prison sentence, what happens if the convicted driver can’t afford to pay while they’re locked up? What if the minor reaches legal adulthood during that time?

The offender won’t be able to escape this responsibility. They have a maximum of a year after they’re released to begin their payments. Further, “The defendant must pay all arrearages regardless of whether the restitution payments were scheduled to terminate while the defendant was confined or imprisoned in the correctional facility.”

How is restitution determined?

The amount of restitution an offender is ordered to pay depends on a number of factors, including the financial resources of the child’s surviving parent or guardian, the standard of living they had prior to the death and their current needs. These can include any emotional or physical treatment they might need. (They might have been injured in the crash that killed their parent or guardian.)

The offender’s financial resources will also be considered. They will have to work out a payment plan with the court. 

This required restitution can help ease the financial burden for surviving family members and perhaps be easier than having to file a civil lawsuit against the impaired driver (although they aren’t barred from doing that). 

The law just took effect at the beginning of this month. Therefore, it’s still important to seek legal guidance to help get the justice and compensation you need and deserve after a loved one is killed.