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The continuing influence of the "Affluenza Teen"

On June 15, 2013, teenager Ethan Couch was driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. While speeding through a residential neighborhood, he lost control of his vehicle, crashing into a group of people assisting another driver with a disabled SUV.

In the aftermath, four people died and nine were injured. The two passengers in the car suffered serious injuries with one left completely paralyzed.’

Couch was indicted on drunk driving charges. During the trial, his attorneys argued that he suffered from something called affluenza and needed rehabilitation, not prison. He was sentenced to ten years of probation in juvenile court and ordered into therapy.

During his trial, the teen never seemed to express the slightest bit of remorse for his alleged actions. After the verdict, Couch and his mother fled to Mexico to avoid his sentence, only to be brought back. He was sentenced to two years in prison in April 2016.

Because he was seemingly unable to comprehend the consequences of his actions due to his financial privilege, he was nicknamed, the “affluenza teen.”

Apparently, the affliction Couch suffered may be contagious among young people and frighteningly trending on social media. In 2015, a young woman documented her drunk driving on Periscope. On this seemingly rare occasion, viewers contacted police who pulled her over in time.

Last week, two young people mixed drunk driving with live streaming as a way to promote, if not brag about their actions. One California teen broadcasted via Instagram a crash where she killed her twin sister. Two days later, another young woman across the country in Pennsylvania used Snapchat to document her night out with a drunk driver. The social media tale ended with her death.

Social media has become second nature. Many young people have become as complacent about with what was once a novelty as they are about drunk driving. Many claim that driving while distracted by a mobile device is akin to operating a car while legally under the influence.

Mixing the two is a dangerous and deadly combination, particularly during a time when DUI-related fatalities are at an increase.

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