AUSTIN, Texas - A new Texas law will require convicted drunk drivers, who kill parents, to pay child support. It will go into effect Sept. 1.
The grandmother behind the legislation said it will help struggling families and will hopefully prevent people from getting behind the wheel after drinking.
"April 14, I, I believe it was exactly 12:36 a.m," Cecilia Williams said.
Williams said she got a knock at her door.
"I jumped up out of bed to find a state trooper and an officer standing at my door," Williams said.
She said what they told her changed her life.
"My son, Cordell, daughter-in-law Lacy, and four-month-old grandson were in a fiery crash and that they were unrecognizable. My husband came to me and said a drunk driver killed them," Williams said.
She said she lost it, but needed to be strong for her two grandchildren, Bentley and Mason, who she’s now taking care of.
"It's hard on us as it is, so then we get the double, triple, one thousand heartaches because we have to watch them suffer as well. I believe that it's hit Bentley harder now than the beginning. He cries a lot, he cries a lot. He'll say I miss my mom and dad," Williams said.
Cecilia Williams, behind the legislation, said it will help struggling families and hopefully people from getting behind the wheel after drinking. Pictured are her grandchildren Bentley and Mason.
She said she wants people who cause that sort of pain to be held accountable.
"Child restitution. That's how they pay. They have to pay for the consequences of their actions and this is the only way to do it because these kids, they have no parents anymore, their parents are gone and that's unfair," Williams said.
Working with local legislators, Williams drew up legislation that become known as Bentley’s Law. It will require drunk drivers who kill parents to pay child support. Payments would start a year after the defendant is released from prison and continue until all the victims’ surviving children turn 18.
"We are locked up inside ourselves. We're not the same people that we used to be, so why should an offender who commits these senseless, preventable crimes be let off scot-free and most of them get just five years probation, and there's no justice in that," Williams said.
Williams said she hopes this legislation will help provide justice.
"It is going to help families put food on the table for these extra mouths that they have to feed," Williams said.
A local attorney said it may be difficult for the person to be able to pay, though.
"There’s been lots of times people are ordered to pay things that they cannot pay, and it ends up digging a hole for somebody who will never be able to have a good job, be able to probably have a house or car because they have such huge debt, so I could see that being a problem, like yes they’ve been ordered, and they have this huge judgment to pay, but they can’t get a job to pay it," criminal defense attorney Betty Blackwell said.
This legislation, House Bill 393, was signed by Governor Abbott in June.