Whatever Happened to Teen Who Used the "Affluenza Defense" for Drunk Driving?
It's a trope as old as time. Rich kids grow up having pretty much anything and everything their heart desires, so they end up going from spoiled brats to sadistic adults who believe that repercussions don't pertain to them. This is what a then-16-year-old Ethan Couch was diagnosed with having when he was involved in a fatal car crash while driving under the influence. So where is the "affluenza teen" now?
Where is Ethan Couch now? Prison.
Sheriff Dee Anderson, after Couch began serving his 720-day manslaughter prison sentence for the DUI car crash that resulted in the deaths of four people, stated, "I do believe Ethan Couch is not the same person he was when he came to jail. This time he's spent, it's a rude awakening for anyone."
But many thought Ethan's old habits must've died hard, because Couch was found in violation of probation in January of 2020, when THC was found in his system. He was arrested and talks of an extension getting added to his sentence began. However, Couch was ultimately released from jail after further examinations of his blood work brought back a "false positive" and the court reportedly didn't have enough confidence in the result.
Tonya Couch, Ethan's mother was indicted some time after her son was released from prison for attempting to skip bail and have him escape probation by fleeing to Mexico. A Tarrant County Grand Jury charged her with both hindering the apprehension of her son and money laundering. Police reports indicate that Tonya had withdrawn $30,000 from her bank account and then fled with her son to Puerto Vallarta.
The two were attempting to "blend in" with other Americans vacationing in the region for New Years 2016. Ethan, at the time, was placed in a Tarrant County Lon Evans Correction Center cell and his mother was able to leave jail after posting a $75,000 bond.
Ethan's manslaughter case gained national attention after a court psychologist said the young man had suffered from "affluenza," a term coined to explain the young man's obliviousness to repercussions.
Couch admitted to drunk driving, but his legal team effectively argued he could not differentiate right from wrong because of his "privileged upbringing," as per NBC News.
After Couch was temporarily found in violation of his probation, his defense attorneys doubled-down on their client's compliance with all court orders: "Ethan is committed to his sobriety and to remaining compliant with all of the terms and conditions imposed."
Couch finished serving his initial 720-day prison sentence in April of 2018. Upon his release, he was given a 9 p.m. curfew and was forced to wear a patch that actively monitored his alcohol and drug consumption.
So what's the "affluenza teen" Ethan Couch up to now?
After his "escape" to Mexico — where locals reportedly saw him at strip clubs drinking alcohol, using drugs, and getting lap dances — Couch has been stateside serving out the rest of his time outside of prison. His probation officially ends in 2024, when he'll no longer be required to have check-ins with his officer.
Many people believe that Ethan Couch "got off easy," a sentiment that presides online even several years after the deadly crash.