In 2013 Ethan Couch, a sixteen-year-old Texan was drunk driving – his blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit for adult drivers – when he rammed a pickup truck into a crowd of people who were trying to help a stranded motorist on the side of a road near Fort Worth. He killed four people.

State District Judge Jean Boyd sentenced him to 10 years’ probation for driving under the influence, killing four pedestrians and injuring eleven.

However, his attorneys successfully argued that the teen suffered from affluenza and needed rehabilitation and not prison.

The lawyers had argued that Couch was unable to understand the consequences of his actions because of his financial privilege. Thus the ‘affluenza’ defense is now an actual thing – if you will forgive the lapse into Kardashianspeak.


Affluenza, n. a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.


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