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Drunken driving case involving teen draws more criticism

Readers may remember hearing some time back about a Texas teenager who was convicted of intoxication manslaughter after driving drunk and killing four individuals in a crash. The case drew a lot of attention in the media, partially because of his defense attorney’s argument that he suffered from “affluenza,” a term referring to a constellation of negative traits linked to excessive wealth and consumerism. In his case, the defense attorney had argued, it was a sense of entitlement that drove him to make poor decisions.

Although the argument was heavily criticized, the boy was able to avoid jail time and received probation and was ordered to undergo rehab. In a recent hearing in the case, the teen’s parents were ordered by a court to pay for less than two days per month of the boy’s treatment, which amounts to a maximum of $1,170 every month for the parents, say sources. This has drawn further criticism from those following the case.

When a young person is caught driving under the influence in Arizona, the standards are stricter than for other drivers. Specifically, prosecutors do not need any evidence of actual impairment to charge a minor with underage drinking and driving. As long as there is any detectable alcohol on the driver’s breath, he or she can be charged. Sometimes other charges are added on top, when prosecutors are able to do so.

It is critical for minor charged with drinking and driving to secure a strong advocate to build a defense case. In building a defense, all potential angles will be considered, including probable cause for arrest, breath or blood testing accuracy, potential Miranda rights violations, and so on. The issues at play will depend on the case, but it is important to explore them with an experienced attorney so as to minimize the consequences of criminal charges.

Source: Fox News, “Parents of Texas teen in 'affluenza' drunk driving case to pay fraction of treatment costs,” April 12, 2014.

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