In 2013, at age 16, Ethan Couch killed four pedestrians and seriously injured several others while driving drunk near Fort Worth, Texas. His blood alcohol was three times the legal limit and he had additional narcotics in his system. But, Couch didn’t get jail time. He received 10 years’ probation when his lawyers used something called the “affluenza” defense, saying he had grown up entitled and as a result developed poor judgment, which led to this tragedy.
This sentence angered and upset so many. But it appears karma may be coming after Ethan Couch. He seems to have violated the terms of his probation, missing an appointment with his probation officer in early December and in October, being at a party with alcohol. A warrant has been issued for his arrest. Couch and his mother haven’t been seen in over a week, and this probation violation could get him a jail sentence of 10 years. At 18, Couch is no longer a child. The Tarrant County Juvenile Prosecutor and the Assistant District Attorney have filed to have jurisdiction of his probation moved to adult court.
Ethan Couch as a child
According to the depositions of Couch and his parents, which have recently surfaced, his parents admit they knew the then-16-year-old had problems with alcohol and that he barely remembers the night four people were killed. Apparently he’d had previous run-ins with the law involving alcohol and these matters should have required more serious consequences instead of the slaps on the wrist he received. (The details aren’t public because he was a minor at the time.)
Could installing a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) in the car he drove have helped avoid this terrible tragedy?
Eliminating teen and college age drunk driving
BAIID’s aren’t just for those who’ve been arrested/charged with DUIs. They can also protect our children, their passengers and those on the road. The numbers are staggering: According to the Centers for Disease Control, among male drivers between ages 15 and 20 who were involved in fatal crashes in 2012, 35% were speeding at the time of the crash and 25% had been drinking.
For good reason, parents are concerned and starting to take more serious actions. Most recently, some have begun installing ignition interlock devices in their children’s cars, as they know their kids aren’t always able to make smart choices, especially when parents aren’t around.
Even if one of those choices is to drink before turning 21, with a BAIID he or she won’t be able to drive, because the driver first needs to breathe into the device, which is connected to the car. If alcohol is detected, the vehicle won’t start. Even if the driver passes the initial test, they are subject to random testing while driving.
It’s too late for a BAIID to avoid the tragedy caused by Ethan Couch, but how many more lives could be saved? Currently, 25 states require BAIIDs for all offenders. If you’ve gotten a DUI and need a qualified ignition BAIID installer, or, if you are looking for ways to keep a young driver you love safe, contact us for more information on the Determinator, our BAIID, which, helps prevent accidents and saves lives.