Representing Injured People

Drunk drivers who kill parents will soon face more consequences

On Behalf of | Aug 10, 2023 | Drunk Driving Accidents

Certainly, nothing can undo the tragedy of losing a loved one to an impaired driver. However, thanks to the law, those responsible can face serious criminal charges and be held civilly liable by surviving loved ones. Now, under Texas law, those convicted of intoxication manslaughter can be required to help support victims’ surviving children.

Under the new law, which takes effect on Sept. 1, as part of the sentence for intoxication manslaughter, a defendant must pay restitution to the surviving parent or legal guardian of any child under 18 whose parent or guardian was killed. The restitution must be paid until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school (whichever is last).

Does the offender have to pay while they’re in prison?

A person convicted of this offense can face a prison sentence of anywhere from two to twenty years. If it’s determined that they don’t have the resources to pay the ordered restitution while they’re in prison, they have up to one year after their release to begin.

Since that prison time could last until long after a child has turned 18, the law states, “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 the amount of restitution determined?

The judge in the case will look at a number of factors, including the financial resources of the child’s surviving parent or guardian as well as the child’s own resources, if any (such as life insurance or inheritance). The offender’s financial resources will also be considered.

Further, the court will look at the child’s prior standard of living as well as their current financial and educational needs. Other factors include the child’s emotional and physical condition. For example, they may well need the help of a mental health professional. If they were injured in the crash that killed their parent or guardian, they may have extensive medical expenses.

Even though other states have or are considering similar laws, as with any new law, there may be questions and issues in the early cases. Those entitled to this money on behalf of a child can benefit from legal guidance to help ensure that they get a fair restitution order.