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How a new Texas law raises the stakes for some drunk drivers

On Behalf of | Dec 1, 2023 | Drunk Driving

The consequences of a drunk driving conviction are always serious. If you’re convicted of causing injuries or fatalities by driving under the influence, of course, they’re far more serious – particularly if the parent or legal guardian of a minor child is killed. 

This year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law that requires those convicted of intoxication manslaughter to pay restitution in the form of child support paid monthly to help care for the surviving children of the victims until they turn 18 (or 19, if they’re still in high school at 18).

How is the amount of restitution determined? 

Judges are required to consider a number of factors in determining the amount of restitution. These include:

  • The surviving parent or guardian’s financial resources
  • The “standard of living to which the child is accustomed”
  • The physical, emotional, educational and other financial needs of the child

The defendant’s financial resources are also considered. Of course, if someone has to serve time in prison after their conviction, they may have no financial resources to begin making payments. That doesn’t allow someone to escape them, even if the child becomes a legal adult while they’re behind bars. The law requires that the defendant begin payment of “all arrearages” within a year after they get out of prison, even if the child became a legal adult during that time.

As you can see, the financial ramifications of conviction for intoxication manslaughter when surviving children are involved can follow a person long after they’ve served their time. That’s why it’s more crucial than ever that you have experienced legal guidance if you’re facing this charge.