Teen in DUI Accident Sentenced to Probation after Pleading “Affluenza” Defense

A 16-year-old boy, who was involved in a fatal drunk driving accident that killed four people, will not have to spend time in prison after all. Ethan Couch was sentenced to 10 years probation in the accident. At the time of the accident, his blood-alcohol level was measured at .24, which is three times the limit for an adult.

Prosecutors had asked that he serve 20 years in prison. However, Couch's criminal defense lawyers produced a psychologist, who testified that Couch suffers from a condition called “Affluenza.” According to the psychologist, Couch’s family believes that wealth protects them from any of the consequences of rash behavior. The psychologist says that as a result of this attitude, Couch was never punished for equally bad behavior in the past, including one incident in which he was found passed out in a car with a naked teenage girl.

The judge seems to have brought the defense, and sentenced Couch to 10 years probation. Apart from this, he will also be made to attend private counseling at a facility which costs close to half a million dollars. The counseling will be paid for by his father.

This is a judgment that has captured attention around the country. This lack of punishment for a 16-year-old boy, who killed four people in a drunk driving accident, and basically got away scot-free with nothing more than a light tap on the rest, is something that people find reprehensible.

If anything, this case spotlights the role of parents in preventing drunk driving, involving their children. More responsible parenting could definitely reduce the risks of a DUI arrest involving a teenager. Make sure that your children are aware that driving is a privilege that comes with responsibilities, and that there are very serious consequences to an underage DUI arrest.