'Affluenza' teen may still serve time for drunk-driving accident

Sensational headlines followed a Texas teen after he avoided jail time in a drunk-driving crash thanks to a defense of 'affluenza.' Now, though, it appears as though the driver could still end up in custody on other charges related to the fatal crash. The young driver, age 16, has pleaded guilty to intoxication assault charges in connection with the drunk-driving accident, according to official reports. Prosecutors in the case say they intend to pursue jail time for the driver, who was only sentenced to a 10-year probation term for his involvement in the Burleson, Texas, wreck.

The teen driver could have been imprisoned for up to 20 years, but a judge issued a probation order instead. The reason: a controversial claim that he was so wealthy that he could not comprehend the consequences of his irresponsible actions. Further, the teen will be required to spend time in a treatment facility in California at a cost of about $450,000 per year to his parents. Although most treatment terms at the Newport Academy only last about 90 days, the teen is expected to be welcomed for an extended stay. There, the driver will have access to recreation activities and other positive therapy options while recovering from his alcohol problems.

This is not the first time that the teen has been in trouble with the law. He had two previous citations for alcohol after he was found driving nearly 90 mph in a 40 mph zone. It is not clear whether he actually completed the mandated alcohol awareness class and community service that was mandated after that violation.

Family members of the victims in this case are understandably incensed, as they see the teen's sentence. The man whose wife and daughter were killed in the wreck has openly accused the defendant of avoiding jail time simply because his family was rich. That man could seek financial compensation through a civil suit against the at-fault driver, however, which could provide an additional measure of punishment. Victims who feel as though justice has not been served in their relatives' wrongful death cases may benefit from consulting a qualified personal injury attorney.

Source: Culture Map Dallas, "Drunk driving teen could still end up in jail, says Tarrant County DA" Claire St. Amant, Jan. 10, 2014

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