AUSTIN, Texas — House Bill 393, also known as Bentley's Law, requires convicted drunk drivers to pay up to 18 years of child support if they kill a parent. The law was brought on with the help of a Texas mom, Mindy Red, who lost her own daughter due to a drunk driver.
"She was very outgoing, very outgoing," Mindy Red said describing her daughter. "She was super tall, beautiful, long blonde hair."
Michelle's life was taken February 21, 2009. Mindy recalls that she was watching Michelle's two-year-old grandson that night. She had planned on giving her grandson back to Michelle, however, that never happened. She says she later had to deliver devastating news to her two-year-old grandson that his mother was never coming home.
“She was doing everything right," Mindy said. "They were following the speed limit, she had her seatbelt on, they were doing everything right. Yet, she was killed by the drunk driver." According to Mindy the driver was going the wrong way.
"It is very frustrating. So, you go through all of these roller coasters of emotions of you feel very hopeless. You feel very lonely," said Mindy.
Soon after her daughter's death, she spent most of her time working to adopt her grandson and showing up to trial hearings. It took up so much of her time that she ended up losing her job.
“Without a job, you can't pay your bills," Mindy said. "So, we ultimately filed bankruptcy, we ultimately lost our house, we lost one of our cars. And in my mind, I was angry at the world because I felt like I was continuously paying the price emotionally, financially, mentally. For something I did nothing wrong."
Although she did nothing wrong, she decided to make the situation right for others. She connected with a Missouri woman who also suffered from a similar situation. Cecilia Williams was working to bring what is known as Bentley's law to Missouri.
"I believe with all of my heart that this is what is going to put a stop to repeat offenders," Williams said.
Bentley's law requires convicted drunk drivers to pay restitution for their actions. Payments would begin a year after the defendant is released from prison and continue until all of the victim's surviving children turn 18. It went into effect in Texas on September 1, 2023.
"It was amazing to see both sides, Democrats and Republicans agree to this was. It where it was unanimous," Mindy said. She also says her daughter, Michelle's memory will continue to live on. "Her story is it is changing lives and minds everywhere."
6 News also reached out a DPS public relations firm about drunk driving in Texas. A statement from the firm from a news release can be found below:
"In 2022, there were 345 DUI-alcohol related traffic crashes over the Labor Day holiday weekend alone, resulting in 20 fatalities and 62 serious injuries. Over the course of last year, a person was killed every 7 hours and 17 minutes in Texas because of a DUI-alcohol-related traffic crash, resulting in 1,203 people losing their lives."
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