Ethan Couch, the teen who made headlines when he used “affluenza” to defend himself after he killed four people in a drunk driving crash in 2013, walked free from a Texas jail on Monday after serving less than two years in jail.
“The 720 days Ethan Couch served for his crimes shows that drunk driving homicides still aren’t treated as the violent crimes that they are,” Mothers Against Drunk Driving said in a statement, adding that it was a “grave injustice.”
Couch, 20, who is White, crashed his pickup truck, killed four pedestrians and seriously injured two others on a road in Burleson, Texas in June 2013. His blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit for an adult at the time. However, he actually touted the outlandish defense of “affluenza,” saying that his wealth and privilege obscured his ability to tell right from wrong, to get off after the deadly accident.
Prosecutors had sought a 20-year jail sentence for a then-teenage Couch in the crash, CNN reported. Yet, a judge put him on probation for 10 years and ordered him to an expensive rehab facility, despite the fierce outcry of the victims’ families and anti-drunk driving advocates.
It wasn’t until 2015 when Couch violated his probation by drinking and fled the country for Mexico, with the help of his mother Tonya Couch, 50, that he was put behind bars. He was ordered to serve 720 days in jail, 180 days for each of his four victims.
But his release has triggered more outcry, especially from activists who said the case has “brought to light that there is so much more work to be done to hold drunk drivers accountable.”
The 20-year-old is required to wear an ankle monitor and an alcohol-detecting patch as part of his conditions of release. He must also submit to drug testing, follow a 9 p.m. curfew and have a video interlock ignition device installed in his vehicle, according to Mike Simonds of the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office.
Couch’s release comes after his mother was arrested Wednesday in connection with helping her son flee to Mexico. Court documents showed that her bond was revoked after she failed a urine analysis test for drugs, USA Today reported.