Kentucky bill makes DUI drivers pay child support after disabling or killing a parent
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE/Gray News) - A new law in Kentucky will hold DUI drivers financially responsible for the children of the victims they kill or disable during a crash.
Senate Bill 268, or Melanie’s Law, was signed by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear Monday morning.
Melanie Hull’s mother, Diana Yates, said her daughter was a young mother with an entire joyous life ahead of her before a crash changed their lives.
“She was personable, prom queen in high school, loved everybody,” Yates said.
Hull’s son, Nolan, had just turned seven at the time of the crash.
“Melanie was a fantastic mom,” Yates said. “Everything she did revolved around this little guy.”
Hull was driving her son to day care on July 1, 2022, when her SUV was struck in Louisville.
Reports at the time indicated the driver that hit them, Amber Washington, was high on meth when she ran a red light.
Nolan undid his seatbelt to try to help his mom but had to remain in the vehicle until first responders cut its doors out.
Yates said her daughter is now totally disabled.
“Unable to speak for the most part other than ‘Yeah,’ or maybe ‘No’ once in a while, can’t do anything for herself,” she said.
Nolan and his mother’s cousin, Senator David Yates, worked with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Governor Beshear to become Hull’s voice and pass Senate Bill 268.
“We’re here to keep her legacy moving forward and helping other people not to have to go through what this family has had to go through,” Beshear said during the bill signing ceremony.
Melanie’s Law will now make DUI drivers financially responsible for the children of the people they kill or disable.
It’s the first in the country to go as far.
“As you go home and talk about this legislation and you talk about it, hopefully, people think, not only can you go to jail, not only can you be held accountable, but you’re reminded of the survivors that are also left without that recourse,” Yates, the bill’s sponsor, said. “The surviving children that are left without a parent or guardian to provide for them.”
To Yates, it’s a painful and personal reminder of the reasons behind a governor’s signature.
“By making the choice to drink and drive or drive high that you are really putting someone’s life in jeopardy, and not just that person, everyone who loves them and depends on them,” Yates said.
The bill is modeled after Tennessee’s Bentley’s Law, which makes DUI drivers financially responsible for the children of those they kill.
That bill was passed in 2015 after a son lost his father in a DUI crash.
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