New, progressive KY DUI law demands restitution for victim’s children

’child support’ required for surviving dependents

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Tuesday, Governor Andy Beshear signed a law that tightens Kentucky’s penalty for DUI-related accidents

Under Senate Bill 268, if someone’s decision to drive under the influence kills or permanently disables a guardian who had been raising dependents, that impaired driver will have to pay child support for the victim’s children as a form of restitution. This law wants to ensure that the surviving children are still able to be brought up in the way that their parents would have wanted.

Bill sponsor Senator David Yates (D) Minority Whip District 37 says Melanie’s law passing is an unprecedented victory.

“I just didn’t realize the dozens of families that are going through this same exact thing,” said Yates. “And to have just a little bit of justice here in Kentucky, I think is a positive.”

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Regional Executive Director Alex Otte said, “We know how much of a difference this law would have made for so many and will make for so many in the future.”

Melanie’s Law’s requirement for restitution upon permanent disability is the most progressive of any state’s legislature.

“It’s named after Melanie, my cousin a couple of weeks younger than me, who is still fighting hard for her life,” explained Yates. “She’s been on machines ever since she was hit by a drunk driver who ran a red light. [The driver] hit her and her son, Nolan….. We want to make sure it’s not just in vain and that there can be something positive done in her name. I think this is a good piece of legislation, and hopefully, the other states will adhere to mirror what we’re doing as well.”

Both Otte and Yates believe Melanie’s Law will dissuade repeat offenses for more than just monetary reasons.

“[Melanie’s law will] hold the offender accountable and make it so that they have to remember the choices that they made,” affirmed Otte.

“They have to write that check to that baby,” added Yates. “It’s more than just about dollars and cents. To me, it is a sense of justice and accountability.”