The term affluenza has never meant anything to anyone until it was first used in a 2013 case in which a then 16-year-old boy was accused of driving while intoxicated and subsequently vehicular manslaughter. As some of our Leesburg readers may remember hearing from national reports, the term described the young man’s actions. The defense successfully argued that because of his privileged upbringing, he did not know right from wrong and should therefore not be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
The court’s decision to offer the young man leniency by sentencing him to 10 years probation and mandatory attendance to rehabilitation came with mixed reactions. While the families of those who had been killed felt justice had not been served, others across the nation applauded the judge for his decision, pointing out that leniency was a better way of letting the young man learn from his mistake, not to suffer from it for the rest of his life.
Now though, the same young man is facing a new legal challenge. According to reports, Ethan Couch, known across the nation as the “affluenza teen,” is believed to have violated his drug-and-alcohol-free probation as well as missed a recent probation hearing. If the allegations are true, then he could face potentially serious criminal charges.
To make matters worse, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has put together a petition in the hopes of getting Couch tried as an adult. Though some are applauding the efforts of the anti-drunk driving organization, Couch deserves the right to due process. And was perfectly pointed out by a sheriff’s spokesman working on the case, he will not be “prosecuted […] based on hearsay.”
Sources: The Washington Post, “‘Affluenza’ teen, whose drunk driving killed 4, in trouble after video posted to Twitter,” Michael E. Miller, Dec. 16, 2015
TIME, “Mothers Against Drunk Driving Wants Affluenza Teen Transferred to Adult Court,” Maya Rhodan, Jan. 11, 2016