LOCAL NEWS

Utah passes ‘Bentley’s Law’ putting convicted DUI drivers on the hook for child support

Mar 6, 2024, 5:25 PM | Updated: 7:00 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is the latest state to pass a bill aimed at cracking down on drunk drivers by imposing stiffer financial penalties.

It’s called “Bentley’s Law” and has been passed in several other states. It makes anyone convicted of killing or permanently injuring someone responsible for paying child support for their victims’ kids – for years.

Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, is the sponsor of HB218, which passed the Legislature before the end of the session and is awaiting the governor’s signature.

Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, is the sponsor of HB218, which passed the Legislature before the end of the session and is awaiting the governor’s signature. (KSL TV)

Paying a debt to a child

“I heard about this in other states,” said Eliason. “We talk about someone paying their debt to society. Well, this is a small way to pay a debt to a child who has had their parent taken from them through the commission of a crime, including drunk driving.”

Dionne DeMille is experiencing the effects of drunk driving firsthand. Her daughter, Emily Worley, was killed in a 2021 crash involving an ex-Layton police officer who was driving drunk. He was convicted and sentenced to prison last year.

Worley left behind two children, whom DeMille adopted.

Dionne DeMille is experiencing the effects of drunk driving firsthand. Her daughter, Emily Worley, was killed in a 2021 crash involving an ex-Layton police officer who was driving drunk. He was convicted and sentenced to prison last year.   (KSL TV)

“I’ve gone back to being a single mom again and raising these young kids,” she said.

The children are now 5 and 7. DeMille, who lives in Spanish Fork, cares for their every need. But nearing age 60, she wishes she didn’t have to provide for them alone.

“To be able to have that peace of mind and knowing that there’s some help here if I can’t work or something would have made a big difference,” DeMille said.

Will Gov. Cox sign the bill?

A spokesperson for Gov. Spencer Cox told KSL TV he hasn’t reviewed HB218 yet. If he signs it, it will take effect in May.

Tripp Mims of Murray lost his wife, Thy Vu Mims, in 2021. She was hit in Salt Lake City by a suspected drunk driver. She also left behind two children. (KSL TV)

Other families of DUI victims in Utah said they wish such a law had been around for them. Tripp Mims of Murray lost his wife, Thy Vu Mims, in 2021. She was hit in Salt Lake City by a suspected drunk driver. She also left behind two children.

Husband of woman killed in police chase speaks out

“The loss of a parent for a family has implications that you didn’t know until five years later,” Mims said. “It splits the family in half instantly.”

He believes the bill, if signed, will help others. Eliason hopes it causes people to think twice before drinking and driving.

“Instead of a $5,000 or $10,000 fine from a DUI conviction,” said Eliason, “it could be hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

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Utah passes ‘Bentley’s Law’ putting convicted DUI drivers on the hook for child support