Tarrant County Teen Kills 4 While Drunk Driving, Gets 10 Years Probation

Tarrant County teen, Ethan Couch, killed four when driving with BAC 3x the legal limit.

There are a number of serious dangers that come with getting behind the wheel of a car when you are intoxicated-damaging your vehicle, violating traffic laws, injuring yourself, injuring others, and possibly even death. It is the seriousness of these many offenses, along with a number of other reasons, that keeps Dallas’ drinking and driving laws so strict, and cops so dedicated to pulling over intoxicated drivers each and every day.

For one Tarrant County teen, Ethan Couch, he is facing the consequences of most of these offenses first-hand after killing four while driving with a blood alcohol level that was three times the legal limit this past summer.

According to authorities and testimony at his trial, on June 15th, 2013, Couch was driving with seven passengers in his father’s pickup truck, speeding at 70 MPH in a designated 40 MPH zone. Earlier that evening, they had stolen beer from a local Wal-Mart store (which had been caught on the store’s surveillance video later) and returned to a home for a party. 1 Later, Couch got back into the pickup truck to go to a store and was eventually found to have a blood-alcohol content of 0.24 (three times the legal limit for adult drivers in Texas). He was also tested positive for Valium. 2

Prosecutors said that at the time of the accident, Couch had swerved off of Burleson-Retta Road, killing four pedestrians: Breanna Mitchell; Hollie Boyles and her 21-year-old daughter Shelby; and Brian Jennings. Hollie and Shelby Boyles had reportedly left their home to assist Ms. Mitchell, a stranger whose car had broken down outside.1

Two teenagers who had been riding in the bed of the pickup truck that Couch was driving were also thrown from the vehicle, resulting in injuries. Sergio Molina, 15-years-old, was one of them, and suffered a severe brain injury and remains in a minimally responsive state. 1

One element of this drinking and driving case that seems to have attracted nation-wide attention is the fact that a psychologist called by the defense testified that Couch suffers from “affluenza,” meaning that on the night of the crash, he did not understand the consequences of his actions because of his “privileged upbringing.” 3 The statement has left many people questioning whether or not the teen’s upbringing had an influence on his sentencing.

On Tuesday, December 10th, 2013, Couch was sentenced to 10 years probation after pleading guilty to driving drunk and causing collisions that killed four people in June. 2 State District Judge Jean Boyd ordered the 16-year-old to receive ongoing therapy at a long-term, in-patient facility. If he violates the terms of his probation, he could be sent to prison for 10 years. 2

This case, along with many other local Dallas drinking and driving cases, shows us that a DWI charge is not simple matter. If you or someone you know has been involved with drinking and driving or has faced a Dallas DWI charge, contact The Wilder Firm today so that we can help you take action against your DWI/DUI charge.

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Sources:

1. Fernandez, Manny; John Schwartz. “Teenager’s Sentence in Fatal Drunken-Driving Case Stirs ”˜Affluenza’ Debate”. New York Times.

2. Mitchell, Mitch. “Teen sentenced to 10 years probation, rehab in 4 deaths”. Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

3. Stuart, Hunger. “Ethan Couch, ”˜Affluenza’ Teen, Facing 5 Lawsuits”.Huffington Post.

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