A tragic Texas drunk driving accident case made headlines because a 16-year-old Texas teenager who caused the crash was able to virtually escape responsibility for his actions. The drunk driving crash resulted in the deaths of four people and caused injury to nine others, including serious and traumatic injuries that will have a lifetime impact.
The teenager involved in the accident pleaded “affluenza,” according to CBS News. A psychiatrist testified in court on the teenager’s behalf and indicated that the teen did not understand consequences because he had wealthy parents who had never taught him right from wrong. The judge appeared to accept the argument and, instead of sentencing the teen to as long as 20-years in prison, the young man received 10 years of probation and will be required to spend time in a rehabilitation facility that costs as much as $450,000 per year and that his parents will be paying for.
Car accidents lawyer in Dallas know that the case captured national attention, as most people found the defense – and the judge’s acceptance of it – to be completely unacceptable given the tremendous loss of life. The case was, however, an important reminder to all parents everywhere. No matter how wealthy you are, parents have a responsibility to teach their kids right-from-wrong, to teach them that drunk driving is never OK, and to make sure that kids understand that their actions have consequences.
Parents Should Never Look the Other Way on Dangerous Driving Behaviors
While the Texas case was dramatic and unique because the teenager’s actions caused so much devastation to the families who lost loved ones, psychologists indicate that the problem of overindulgent parents is common.
One psychologist who specializes on the costs of affluence in suburban communities reportedly told the Associated Press that research conducted at Columbia University shows that as many as 20 percent of upper middle-class adolescents believe that their parents would be able to get them out of a sticky situation. This could include situations like speeding tickets or even drunk driving charges.
The outcome of this case reinforces the idea that many teenagers have that they are invincible and that consequences cannot touch them. The teen in this case had seven passengers in his vehicle at the time of the deadly crash, and his blood alcohol content (BAC) was three times the legal limit in the state. Teens in Texas are subject to zero tolerance rules and are not supposed to consume any alcohol before they get behind the wheel of a vehicle. The alcohol consumed in this case had been stolen by the teenagers before the accident.
Victims injured when the teen hit four pedestrians included a 52-year-old woman and her 21-year-old daughter, as well as another man and woman, one of whom was a youth pastor. Family members are likely to pursue personal injury claims in civil court against the family of the teen in order to recover compensation for their losses. However, nothing will bring back the lives of those who were lost. The accident could perhaps have been avoided if the teenage driver’s parents had made clear that this behavior was unacceptable, and the parents of every teen driver should recognize that the outrage surrounding this tragic case means that they have a responsibility to ensure that their own children know that decisions they make when driving can have a very real impact on people’s lives.