If you haven’t read the news from Texas a month ago, then now’s the time to read it. If you don’t have the time to read it, then I’ll summarize it for you.
A drunk teenaged driver (Ethan Couch) crashed his vehicle and left four people dead. In most cases, it would result in him going to jail no matter what his age is, but the judge sentenced Couch to only 10 years’ of probation and no jail time. The defense's DUI lawyer successfully claimed that it was a result of “affluenza” and that the teen was not responsible for his actions because of his upbringing. The teen will attend a nearby rehabilitation facility, costing his family $450,000 a year.
Needless to say, everyone who was following the case was disappointed, and the families of the victims are outraged.
The prosecutors and the victims’ family are protesting that Couch only received a slap on the wrist for such a serious crime. The prosecutor asked the judge for the maximum twenty years in prison. Prior to the crash, the defendant was caught on tape stealing beer from a nearby Walmart, driving with seven passengers aboard his father’s vehicle, speeding to almost twice the limit. Three hours after the accident, he had a blood alcohol content of .24%, which is three times the legal limit in Texas.
Several are asking for justice and that “affluenza” is not a valid defense, especially if it resulted in the death of four people and severely injured two other people. Many people are claiming that the law and the verdict were unfair because if something like this happened to a less wealthy defendant they would definitely be jailed. However, it is possible for prosecutors to challenge the sentenced if they feel it was too lenient.
Looking at this case, do you think DUI laws have to be stricter for everyone or just for younger drivers? Or do you think the current laws are too lenient when it involves someone wealthy? You might expect a defense lawyer to support stricter laws because it can potentially bring in more clients. As a person however, would you support it so the roads are safer by exchanging a small part of your freedom? Or would you oppose it because you don’t want your freedom restricted and find alternatives like applying harsher penalties to defendants, improving driver education for all ages, or requiring stricter driver application standards?