Texas Teen Who Killed Four In Drunk Driving Accident Sees No Prison Time

In December 2013, a Texas judge made headlines by giving a teen driver who caused a fatal auto accident while intoxicated a sentence of 10 years of probation and chemical dependency treatment. On February 5, 2014, the Texas judge declined to give the teen jail time for assault charges stemming from the accident.


In June 2013, the 16 year-old was driving his pickup with seven passengers in it when it struck an SUV stopped on the side of the road with a flat tire, killing four people standing near the stopped vehicle. The teen's blood alcohol content at the time of the accident was 0.24 percent.

In December 2013 the teen pled guilty to manslaughter charges for the deaths of the four pedestrians. What garnered national attention in the matter was the defense that the teen used to argue against jail time. He claimed that he was suffering from "affluenza," meaning that he never learned that his actions had any consequences because his parents always used their wealth to make problems go away. He never had to take responsibility for anything, which meant that he never developed good decision-making skills, leading him down a destructive path that ultimately culminated in the deaths of the four people in the drunk driving accident.

The judge could have sentenced the teen to up to 20 years in prison. However, the judge agreed that the teen would not get the help he needed in prison and instead sentenced him to 10 years of probation, during which he cannot drink alcohol or drive. He also must seek chemical dependency treatment.


The teen returned to court in February 2014 for intoxication assault charges. Two passengers in the teen's truck were thrown from the vehicle and seriously injured in the accident. Prosecutors were seeking 20 years in prison for the assault charges, but the judge did not order any prison time. The judge did order the teen to a secured facility for treatment, rather than the California-based treatment center his parents had proposed. The judge did not set a specific length of time for the teen to remain in treatment, leaving it to the professionals in the treatment center to determine when he completed treatment.


Criminal charges stemming from drunk driving are serious matters in Texas. Prosecutors push for maximum penalties, no matter what mitigating circumstances there may be. Those who are facing criminal charges because of drunk driving need the assistance of a seasoned criminal defense attorney to help ensure that their rights are protected and achieve positive outcomes in their cases.