Bentley’s Law is an initiative led by Missouri resident Cecilia Williams and named for her grandson, Bentley, whose parents Lacey Newton and Cordell Shawn Michael Williams and their 4-month-old son, Cordell Shawn Michael Williams II, were killed in a fiery crash on April 13, 2021. First introduced in Missouri, the legislation requires drunk drivers who are convicted of killing of a parent to pay child support to surviving minor children.
Through Cecilia Williams’ tireless advocacy efforts, versions of Bentley’s Law are now being considered in more than a dozen states. The Tennessee Legislature passed “Ethan’s, Hailey’s, and Bentley’s Law” on April 20, 2022, which includes the names of the two surviving children of Tennessee Police Officer Nicholas Galinger, who was killed by a hit-and-run drunk driver. The Governor is expected to sign this legislation into law.
Cecilia Williams Statement
“Bentley’s Law was created out of a tragedy that has affected the lives of two beautiful boys, Bentley and Mason, and the lives of our family. These crashes are totally preventable, and I will continue to fight for change for all who have suffered from impaired drivers. Many families like mine suffer such a loss every second of every day, and Bentley’s Law will bring change to hold the offender accountable for such horrific actions.”
– Cecilia Williams
“MADD supports Bentley’s Law and similar bills that hold drunk driving offenders accountable. Too often, offenders are able to move on with their lives even after killing someone, while victims and survivors are reminded every day of their loss. The idea behind Bentley’s Law is to both provide a sense of justice to victims and survivors and make sure offenders are reminded of the heartbreak they caused by making the choice to drive impaired.”
Visit madd.org/BentleysLaw to ask your elected officials to support Bentley’s Law in your state.
Bill’s creator: Cecilia Williams, whose son, daughter-in-law and grandson were killed in a horrific, fiery crash.
Crash: April 13, 2021, Jefferson County, Mo.
Victims: Cordell Shawn Michael Williams, 30, Lacey Newton, 25, Cordell Shawn Michael Williams II, 4 months
Driver: David Thurby, 26, was charged with three counts of DWI resulting in the death of a person in connection with the Jefferson County crash. He was convicted of three counts of second-degree involuntary manslaughter on Jan. 11, 2023.
Legislation: Bentley’s Law was introduced in Missouri first.
- More than a dozen other states have introduced “Bentley’s Law” or are drafting this legislation.
- Tennessee is the first state to pass “Bentley’s Law.” It passed the Tennessee House and Senate on April 20, 2022, and was renamed “Ethan, Hailey’s and Bentley’s Law” to add the names of Tennessee Officer Nicholas Galinger’s children. (pending Governor’s signature)
Contact: Becky Iannotta, [email protected]