Ky. lawmakers consider new law similar to Tennessee’s dealing with vehicular homicide
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky lawmakers could consider a bill similar to one passed in Tennessee that requires child support be paid by offenders of deadly DUI crashes.
Lawmakers in Frankfort heard from a Tennessee legislator about their new statute.
In September of 2010, a Laurel County man was on his way home when police said his van was hit head on by a drunk driver in a pickup truck. Two years later that man was sentenced to 10 years on a manslaughter conviction. The victim left behind a small child.
“It was a financial burden on them. He was the income earner of that home. That child does not have that growing up anymore,” Laurel County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele said.
On Thursday Kentucky lawmakers heard about a new law in Tennessee that would require DUI offenders to pay child support if the crash they caused kills a parent.
“Leave them without a father or a mother, that hurts not just the kid but the entire family. It’s something they need to address and look at,” Steele said.
Another prosecutor said that what is truly needed is a vehicular homicide law. Most juries hand out manslaughter 2nd, which results in usually just a 5-to-10-year sentence.
It’s rare for juries to return murder verdicts against DUI offenders. The child support would be a form of restitution and while that may sound good for victims, the question some ask is will offenders actually pay it?
“We have thousands of cases all over Kentucky, that owe thousands in child support already, or in other cases, where they have financially harmed victims. They have to pay $25 a month and owe thousands. They can’t live long enough to pay it,” Steele said.
The Tennessee legislator says their law gives judges the discretion to handle each situation in a case-by-case basis.
Under Tennessee’s law, offenders would carry the amount owed with them even after they are released from prison.
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