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'Affluenza Teen,' Who Once Killed 4 In Drunken Car Crash, Arrested Again

Ethan Couch made headlines following a deadly 2013 crash when his lawyer asked a judge to go easy on him because his privileged upbringing hadn't instilled in him a sense of responsibility.

By Gina Tron
Ethan Couch Ap

The Texas man who became infamous as the “affluenza teen” has been arrested again after authorities say he violated the terms of his probation.

Ethan Couch, 22, was booked into a Fort Worth jail Thursday after he tested positive for THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, court records show.

Couch’s attorneys, Scott Brown and Reagan Wynn, said their client has been intensely monitored for alcohol and illegal substance use for more than 20 months and “has never been positive for the use of any substance before.”

“We cannot make any further statement until we have the opportunity to conduct an investigation to determine if, in fact, Ethan ingested THC and, if so, if it was a voluntary act on his part,” Brown and Wynn said in a statement.

Jail records did not indicate whether his bond had been set Thursday afternoon.

Couch became known as the “affluenza teen” during his manslaughter trial for a 2013 drunk driving crash that killed four people. Couch, who was 16 at the time of the crash, was found to have a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit for adults. But a psychologist told a juvenile court that being raised in a wealthy family meant Couch had never developed a sense of responsibility, coining the term “affluenza."

A judge originally sentenced Couch to 10 years of probation. His light sentence sparked nationwide outrage and the term “affluenza” went viral.

Couch was later jailed after attending a party where alcohol was served – violating the conditions of his probation – and then fleeing to Mexico with his mother to avoid punishment. He was released in 2018 after serving a nearly two-year sentence.

In the 2013 crash, Couch lost control of his family’s pickup truck in Burleson, Texas after drinking with friends. He veered into a crowd of people who had gathered on the side of the road to help the driver of a disabled vehicle. Authorities later estimated that he was going 70 mph in a 40 mph zone.

The crash killed the stranded motorist, a youth minister who stopped to help her and a mother and daughter who came out of their nearby home. Tonya Couch, Ethan’s mother, is awaiting trial on charges of hindering apprehension of a felon and money laundering arising from her son's flight to Mexico in 2015. She has been in and out of jail since.

Couch’s father has also seen his share of negative news. Just last year, Frederick Couch was charged with assault for allegedly choking his girlfriend.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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