By Sandy Malone and Holly Matkin
Nashville, TN – Tennessee lawmakers passed a piece of legislation on Wednesday that will require a drunk driver to pay child support if they killed a parent with minor children while driving under the influence.
Tennessee state senators passed House Bill 1834 – named for Chattanooga Police Officer Nicholas Galinger – on April 20 after amending it to include the names of the fallen officers’ children, Gray News reported.
Officer Galinger, a rookie at the time, and his field training officer had stopped to inspect a manhole cover that had water flowing out of it on Feb. 23, 2019.
While Officer Galinger was out in the roadway, a speeding Honda CR-V came flying down the street and crossed over the double-yellow center line, according to The State.
The vehicle crashed into a sign that warned drivers of the exposed manhole and then slammed into Officer Galinger.
Then the driver fled the scene, leaving the gravely injured officer to die in the street, according to The State.
Officer Galinger was rushed to a local hospital where he ultimately succumbed to his injuries.
A jury convicted the Honda’s driver – 57-year-old Janet Hinds – of vehicular homicide by intoxication in September of 2021, the Associated Press reported.
Hinds was sentenced to 11 years in prison in February.
HB 1384 would hold drivers like Hinds, convicted of killing someone while under the influence, financially responsible for minor children left behind by the fallen hero, Gray News reported.
“If a defendant is convicted of vehicular homicide due to intoxication or aggravated vehicular homicide and the victim of the offense was the parent of a minor child, then the sentencing court must order the defendant to pay restitution in the form of child maintenance to each of the victim’s children until each child reaches 18 years of age and has graduated from high school,” according to the bill summary.
The bill next goes to Tennessee Governor Bill Lee for a signature before becoming law.