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Bill would mandate child support in drunk driving deaths

A parent is killed on the roadway by someone who made the choice to drive while intoxicated. The person responsible cannot replace the loss of a loved one, but they can at least take care of some of the dead parent’s financial dependents.

That’s what a bill proposed by Rep. Roger Goodman of Kirkland aims to make happen: Mandate that drunk drivers pay child support if they kill a parent.

From the PI:

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If a state representative has his way, penalties for drunks on the road will be a lot tougher.

State Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, wants tougher penalties for vehicular homicide and vehicular assault. He’s also working on a proposal that would require a drunken driver who kills or severely injures a parents to pay child support for the victim’s kids.

“Incarceration is not proven to deter drunk driving, but nevertheless offenders are getting out too soon,” said Goodman, who is a candidate to replace U.S. Rep Jay Inslee, who is running for governor.

He said that while there is a desire to make vehicular homicide penalties the same as manslaughter, there’s question of overall political will because of the costs involved for additional prison time.

This bill is in the same vein as a discussion in the comments of our post about the death of Bradley Nakatani. A long-term financial commitment to the dependents left without that income is the LEAST we should be demanding from people whose irresponsible and criminal decisions lead to the death of another human being on our roadways.

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5 responses to “Bill would mandate child support in drunk driving deaths”

  1. Brad Hawkins

    Brilliant idea! I wonder which advocacy organizations will pick this up and carry it. Feet first? Cascade? Futurewise? BAW? I’ll get involved heavily with whichever group is carrying water for this one.

  2. Bruce Newman

    This option is already available through a civil wrongful death suit. I wonder whether this proposal would really improve a family’s options, or cause unintended consequences such as reduced civil awards?

    1. Brian

      That may be so, but not having to file a lawsuit simplifies the process more than a bit. And no 30% fee, either. It would only reduce civil damage awards if the estate or dependents brought a successful WD/survivor claim, in which case a reduction is proper because there already would have been compensation for lost monetary support. The point is to prevent double recovery. I think it is a great idea.

  3. Gary

    Also unpaid child support, unlike an unpaid civil claim will prevent someone from licensing a vehicle, getting a hunting/fishing permit. And states trade this information, where as if you flee a civil claim, requires the claimant to re-file with the payroll dept at the new job etc… Much tougher to evade.

  4. It strikes me as odd that our society is capable of mustering up outrage over this one way of driving irresponsibly, but not all the others.

    Even the supporters of this bill admit that even incarceration isn’t proven to deter drunk-driving. What we need is a full cultural shift in how we look at driving cars, grounded in the fact that their size and speed renders them capable of causing massive damage to others. We need to shift our driving culture to one of responsibility, not entitlement. I might say the same of some other activities, like generation of waste/pollution… but that’s another issue…

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