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Statement on Bentley’s Law Requiring Child Support to Surviving Children of Parents Killed by a Drunk Driver

Bentley’s Law

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.

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 Statement

“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.”

Take Action

Visit madd.org/BentleysLaw to ask your elected officials to support Bentley’s Law in your state.

Key Facts

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. It was signed into law on May 25, 2022.
  • Melanie’s Law” was signed in Kentucky on April 4, 2023. This is similar to Bentley’s Law but expands the restitution requirement to include children whose parents or guardians were severely and permanently injured in an impaired driving crash.
  • Texas bill HB 393 was signed into law on June 2, 2023.
  • Maine bill LD 1512 was signed into law on June 23, 2023.
  • Cody’s Law,” similar to Bentley’s Law, was vetoed by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on June 28, 2023.

Contact: Becky Iannotta, [email protected]

beckyiannotta

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