Being Over Privileged is a Defense to DUI?

Posted by Troy Slaten | Dec 12, 2013 | 0 Comments

A Texas teen that was charged with killing four and injuring two after driving drunk was sentenced to probation and no jail time. This sentence has caused quite a stir as families of the victims are shocked that the boy does not have to serve any jail time.

16 year old Ethan Couch was driving in June with two friends in the back of his pickup truck. It is believed that he and his friend had stolen some beer earlier and had been drinking. Couch crashed his pickup in into four people who were working on a broken down car at the side of the road. All four of these victims died due to their injuries. During the crash, two of Couches friends were also injured. Both were in the back of the pick-up and were thrown out during the impact. One suffered only broken bones and internal injuries. The other suffered brain injuries and is now paralyzed.

Two hours after the crash, Couch was found to have a blood alcohol content of .24 which is three times the legal limit for adults. California, a driver under 21 who drives with any alcohol in there system can be charged with juvenile DUI.

Couch's attorney used a very interesting defense, he argued that Couch is not a bad person but is a victim of his parents never setting boundaries. A psychologist testified that Couch suffers from “affluenza” a term used to describe wealthy children whose parents never set limits and give into their every whim. It was recommended that he get treatment for his psychological condition instead of being sentenced to jail.

It looks like the judge agreed with this defense.  Couch was sentenced to 10 years of probation and no jail time. If he violates the probation he will go to jail. He will not be returned to the custody of his parents but instead enter a treatment facility for his issues.

About the Author

Troy Slaten

Troy Slaten is the managing attorney for Floyd, Skeren & Kelly's Criminal Defense practice. He graduated with honors from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He then went on to earn his law degree from Pepperdine University School of Law.


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