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Probation Given to Teen Who Killed 4 in Drunk Driving Crash

16-year-old Ethan Couch caused a crash which took the lives of four people. At the time of the crash, Couch was 3 times over the legal blood alcohol limit for an adult at .24. His sentence – 10 years probation without a single day in jail. My thoughts at the bottom of the post.

The devastating crash occurred on June 15, 2013 and took the lives of 24-year-old Breanna Mitchell, mother and daughter Hollie and Shelby Boyles, and Youth Pastor Brian Jennings. Ethan Couch was driving 70 mph in a 4mph zone in a Ford-F-350 with a blood alcohol level of .24. The beer was stolen from a grocery store by Ethan and his friends earlier that night.

The defense, with aide from psychologist Dr. Gary Miller, claimed Ethan Couch was a victim of “affluenza,” the product of wealthy, privileged parents who didn’t teach him the consequences of his behavior. Dr. Miller said the boy had an ‘intellectual age’ of 18 but an ‘emotional age’ of 12.

Judge Jean Boyd could have sentenced Couch the the maximum 20 years in prison, but because she didn’t believe he would receive the necessary therapy in jail, she sentenced him to 10 years probation and therapy. She has yet to issue a public statement about her sentencing.

My thoughts:

It scares me tremendously to think rich people can now argue that their affluence causes them to break laws. If it can be proven that Ethan Couch knew he was breaking the law when drank underage, drove over the speed limit, and drove after drinking, then he should see justice from the law like everyone else. Had he never seen a PSA, watched a movie, or heard stories about the dangers of drunk driving? The torment the families of the victims are feeling must be overwhelming knowing that the boy who killed their loved ones has escaped jail time from the justice system.

To me, his sentencing is void of any punishment and is merely inconveniently constraining. Any crime that results in a horrific accident and loss of life should bare some sort of punishment besides rehabilitation and probation. I believe rehabilitation is important, but after being rehabilitated, he should spend time in jail. What happens the next time a drunk teenager kills one or maybe two people behind the wheel in Texas? Will they get a similar sentencing?

I really hope that Ethan Couch uses his time out of prison to encourage as many teens as possible to not drink and drive. If he can prevent at least one person from the same fate he dealt to four innocent people then his lenient sentence may be worth it.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Watch this Anderson Cooper interview with the psychologist who aided the defense and try not to punch your computer monitor or throw your phone.

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