ARKANSAS, USA — District 81 Representative RJ Hawk is the lead sponsor for HB1131 which would introduce the Bentley Law to Arkansas.
If passed, the bill would require intoxicated drivers to pay child support for the victim's children.
Representative Hawk explained that it started for him while campaigning and meeting 2 widows. They explained their hardships after losing their husbands.
"One was to a vehicular accident from drunken driving and the other was from boating. And they said that living as parents now in a single-family home, not having their husbands have been one of our biggest struggles," said Hawk.
"This session is all about kids, it's taking care of kids, or whether it be at the education level, this bill is taking care of kids," Hawk added.
Bentley's law started in Missouri where Cecilia William's Son, daughter-in-law, and grandson were killed by a drunk driver. Her grandson, Bentley, was left behind in her care. Last August, Williams spoke to our sister station in St. Louis.
“Life ain't the same and it never will be," said Williams. "I made a promise to my kids, and my grandson, and other people that I was going to do what I could to stop people from driving under the influence."
On July 7, 2022, Tennessee became the first state to adopt Bentley's Law after Governor Bill Lee signed it into law. Work still continues for more states to adopt the law.
"It only makes sense. It's a hardship on the child by losing a parent, for no reason, no reason on their own. It wasn't God's will. It was somebody that made a reckless decision to either drive or boat and they killed somebody," said the representative.
Representative Hawk explained that Arkansas' HB1131 would take it a step further than other states. It would include all intoxicants and not just drunk driving. It would also include boating accidents, which Hawk contributes to Senator Kim Hammer as many Arkansans participate.
"It's more than just drunken driving," said Hawk. "What's the difference between drinking and driving and killing somebody by drinking and boating?"
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