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Life Sentence for Family, Probation for Teen
By MADD | December 17, 2013| 7 Comments | Filed in: Victim Services , Underage Drinking , Drunk Driving

Last week, a 16-year-old Texas teen was sentenced to 10 years' probation but no jail time for killing four people and injuring several others while driving drunk.  His defense?  He suffered from affluenza, a condition where because of his family’s wealth, he couldn’t appreciate that his actions have consequences.

Like many of you, we were appalled and shocked by the court’s decision. These victim families have been given a lifelong sentence of grief and loss, and the young man who caused this pain walks away with probation. We are concerned that this sentence sends the wrong message to others about the crimes of drunk driving and underage drinking, which are both extremely dangerous and 100 percent preventable.

Sadly, we can’t change the legal outcome of this case, but we will continue to support these families who feel victimized all over again – this time by the justice system that they trusted to do the right thing. We have also reached out to the judge who handed down the sentence and requested a meeting to discuss how the sentencing of offenders impacts how society views the crime of drunk driving. 

Our hope is that this case reignites the conversation about the tragic realities of drunk driving and the continuing battle we must wage every day to ensure that our courts treat it as the violent crime that it is. That is why we continue to expand our court monitoring program across the country, to encourage a criminal justice system that is transparent and accountable for its actions.

A court monitor sits in on court proceedings and records the outcome. MADD then uses these reports to detect patterns and track discrepancies in how DUI laws are being applied. But we could use your help.  We largely rely on volunteers to perform this very important task.  If you would like volunteer as a court monitor, fill out and submit our online volunteer application. 

You can also become a sustaining donor to help expand this program to all 50 states. 



Submitted by JT at 04:29 PM on January 7, 2014
What can be done to stop this from ever happening again. I will help, but something HAS to be done! PLEASE?!?!? This is so insane that I don't even have the vocabulary to describe the outrage I feel!
Submitted by LiMom at 05:54 PM on December 23, 2013
If affluenza is the defense, then child neglect, child abuse is the sin. The parents and Ethan should be imprisoned. How ourtageous that there be no consequence for the teen who did not do the right thing, even though he had been in trouble before. The system needs to harsher. These are violent acts and it is about time that we treat them as such.
Submitted by athiesttoo at 04:40 AM on December 19, 2013
On Christmas Day 1976 my 7 year old nephew was run down by a drunk driver and I have been working ever since to make the penalties for these irresponsible folks stiffer and longer for first time offenders. I give up. I'm too old and tired and depressed to deal anymore. This was the final blow. If some spoiled brat rich kid can MURDER 4 people and get away with it there is no hope for this country.
Submitted by Mary O'Connor Weyel at 03:34 PM on December 18, 2013
My son was killed by a drunk driver and I fought for him to get a merger 18 months, the courts asked what my sons life was worth, how appalling , the whole system is flawed putting it nicely. Judges like the one above are a j Ike and an abomination. To free this kid sets a presidency for more to use that same scenario when caught, praying karma comes around..
Submitted by TRTX at 11:21 AM on December 17, 2013
This makes me so mad. My mom was killed by a drunk driver and he got ten years in prison. I can only imagine how the families of these victims feel about the sentence for this kid. MADD thanks for everything that you do.
Submitted by kyfanman at 10:09 AM on December 17, 2013
please, please, MADD... do something about the Dr Miller in texas whose testimony was so critical in getting eric couch off on 4 counts of murder. he was paid $25,000 to get up and give his "affluenza" defense. which is the most dangerous, outrageous, defense against drunk driving in history.
Submitted by Walter Moryan at 09:50 AM on December 17, 2013
Legal System needs to be followed but famalies are disabled and crippled for life. A charge more severe should have been a sentence. Not a slap on the wrist

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