In the state of Missouri, Cecilia Williams—a grandmother—pushes legislators to support a proposed new law that she’s named ‘Bentley’s Law,’ after her son, his fiancé, and their 4-month-old were killed by a drunk driver in April 2021.
Bentley’s Law would require drunk drivers who kill a parent or both to pay child support to the victim’s surviving spouse or relatives until the children reach the age of 18.
“The main aspect of Bentley’s law is financial responsibility by the offender,” she said.
“They deserve to get that compensation because you’re talking about raising children whose parents are no longer here,” she added.
Williams is now raising her son’s two other children, Mason, 3, and Bentley, 5, after whom she named the law. She believed the monthly child support payments would make an offender think twice before drinking and driving again.
Cordell Williams, 30, Lacey Newton, 25, and Cordell Williams II, four months old, all perished after David Thorby, 26, allegedly rear-ended Cordell’s car, driving it off the road and into many trees. According to Missouri State Highway Patrol reports, their vehicle then caught on fire.
Thorby was charged with three counts of causing the death of another person while driving under the influence (DUI). Thorby’s blood-alcohol level was double the legal limit, according to court filings, and he reportedly informed a trooper that he had “seven shots of Crown and water.”
After losing three loved ones caused by an alleged drunk driver rear-ending their vehicle, driving it off the road, and into a disaster, Williams began working on legislation targeting drunken drivers.
Thorby was also charged with four crimes, including marijuana possession and driving recklessly. He could face a sentence of 3 to 15 years in jail if convicted of DUI that resulted in the death of two or more individuals. However, Williams believes that this is insufficient retribution for the pain caused, reported Iheart.
“I don’t think 15 years is enough, then they’re also eligible for parole or get time off for good behavior. If it’s a first offense and they don’t have a record, they won’t even get 15 years, it’s probably less than four years,” Williams says.
Representative Mike Henderson of Missouri intends to introduce the bill during the upcoming legislative session. He feels that children who lose a parent due to a drunk driving accident should be helped, reported Newsner.
“I do firmly believe that these people who are driving drunk and take away the parents of these children, there’s got to be some help for these children. It comes down to that,” he said.
Also, Williams claims that a Tennessee lawmaker has agreed to introduce a “Bentley’s Law” during the first legislative session next year and hopes she can take the law nationwide.