Drunk Driver Affluenza: A Poor Defense for the Boy that Killed Four

October 26, 2015

After a night of partying and drinking, a 16-year-old in Texas loaded up seven of his friends in his truck and took off down a dark road. The driver’s blood alcohol level was reportedly more than three times the legal limit at the time. While speeding down the country road at 70mph, the driver lost control and crashed directly into a group of people trying to help a stranded driver.

All four people on the side of the road were killed instantly. Two passengers in the party truck were seriously injured. The 16-year-old drunk driver, pled guilty to the charges of intoxication manslaughter and intoxication assault, but during the three-day hearing prior to sentencing, the driver’s defense was that his parents spoiled him as a child.

As part of the legal team hired by the defendant’s parents, a psychologist named Dr. G. Dick Miller conducted an evaluation of the young driver. He found that the boy had suffered from bad parenting, and that his upbringing had instilled in him all the wrong lessons.

“He was taught by his parents that if he hurt someone, he could send money,” Dr. Miller reportedly testified in court. Dr. Miller used the word “affluenza” to describe the young driver’s condition and advised that the boy be admitted into a rehabilitation facility rather than jail.

Miller also shared an anecdote in which a teacher at the school the boy was attending at 13 years old expressed concern regarding the fact that the boy’s parents were allowing him to drive to and from the school on his own. The parents allegedly responded with something along the lines of “We’ll buy the school” before eventually pulling him out entirely and home-schooling him.

“Instead of the golden rule, which was do unto others as you would have them do unto you, he was taught we have the gold, we make the rules,” said Dr. Miller, an idea that was further reinforced when he was let off with only a summons after being arrested for public intoxication just four months before the fatal accident. “It reinforced that indeed the rules don’t apply to Ethan Couch,” Dr. Miller added.

The driver was sentenced to 10 years of probation and a period in rehab avoiding jail time. The judge’s decision came as a shock to the families of the victims and made national headlines as it seemingly only further bolsters the boy’s supposed issues.

McBride, Scicchitano & Leacox, L.L.C.Orlando personal injury lawyers

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