When Lauren McGraw got a text from her son, she knew something was wrong.
“He sent me a text that said “Mom I’m so sorry, I love you so much, nothing I ever did was your fault, but I feel like I’m failing you and our family.”
McGraw said she knew immediately as a mother, something was wrong.
What she didn’t know at that moment was that after that text, her son Rivers shot himself.
Rivers had just been bailed out by friends after a DUI charge. This was his second DUI. He had just returned to school at Ole Miss after spending 90 days in a rehab program.
“He had done well, he had been working, and he wanted to return to school. I thought he deserved that,” said McGraw.
McGraw was unaware of her child’s second DUI arrest until after his death. She has fought for Rivers’ Law to insure that this doesn’t happen to another family.
“That drives me, to make a change in this, not for a personal agenda,” said McGraw. “I know it won’t bring Rivers back. But it could stop another family from going through this.”
Rivers’ Law (House Bill 1089) would require that law enforcement officers call the parents of anyone 21 years or younger after a DUI or drug arrest. That person would then either be released to the custody of the parents, to a consented guardian, or to an attorney on behalf of the family. If those three options can’t be met, then release on bond would be left up to the judge’s discretion.
“That way we can get them some help,” said McGraw. “Had I been called, I could have gotten him to help.”
McGraw said this is also an issue of parental rights.
“If the child doesn’t want you in their business, doesn’t want to be on your insurance, then they can be emancipated,” said McGraw. “As long as they’re in school and you’re responsible for their healthcare and for their welfare, then it’s your right to get them help. But you can’t help if you’re not told.”
News Mississippi will continue to follow Rivers’ Law through the legislative session.