The case of a Keller teenager whose drunk driving accident claimed four lives gained headlines nationwide when a State District Judge ruled that Ethan Couch, 16, should serve 10 years of probation rather than go to prison. Couch could have been sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. The ruling has been met with a firestorm of opposition from those claiming the only reason Couch received such a light sentence was because his parents are wealthy. The Barber Law Firm is highlighting this story to focus attention on the potentially catastrophic consequences of underage drunk driving.
The “Affluenza” Defense
Couch’s lawyer brought up a term, “affluenza,” that has since taken off nationally. A court psychologist stated that because Couch has nearly unfettered freedom he could not be expected to behave responsibly. Couch stole beer from a local Walmart, jumped into his pickup truck, and hit a woman whose car had broken down on a Burleson road. The drunk driving accident not only killed her, but also two Good Samaritans who had stopped to help the woman, as well as a passerby. There were two teens in the bed of Couch’s truck, and one was injured so seriously that he cannot move or talk, according to an article in the Dec. 12, 2013 issue of Time magazine.
According to court testimony, Couch’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal amount and he admitted to being drunk when he lost control of his vehicle. He pled guilty to four counts of intoxication manslaughter as well as two counts of assault by intoxication.
One Last Effort to Achieve Justice
However, The Dallas Morning News reported on Dec. 17, 2013 that Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon is asking a juvenile judge to put Couch in jail on the intoxication assault charges. The original judge, Jean Boyd, issued her probation sentence in regard to the four intoxication manslaughter charges. According to Shannon, no verdict was formally entered in regard to the assault charges. The maximum sentence for juvenile intoxication assault is three years in a Texas Juvenile Justice Department facility.
Underage drunk driving is not just a problem in Texas, but nationwide as well. Teenagers have plenty of temptations, especially during the holiday season, and it is more important than ever that parents do everything possible to keep their children away from alcohol. If you would like more information on how to do so, contact The Barber Law Firm online or call us at 866.986.1529. What do you think about the Ethan Couch case? Let us know by clicking one of the social media buttons on this page.