Can being a spoiled child become a DUI defense?

You may remember the 2013 DUI case that led a defense attorney to claim ‘affluenza’ as the cause of a then 16-year-old’s reason for driving drunk, a decision that killed four and left one seriously injured.  The teen, a son of two wealthy business owners, testified that his parents knew of his drinking and partying and never told him no. In essence, he didn’t know any better because he had always experienced privilege and didn’t think the rules applied to him. For this teen, the claim of ‘affluenza’ worked, and what could have been a hefty prison sentence was whittled down to 10 years probation. So the question remains, can being a spoiled child become a DUI defense? Of course it can.

Obviously one of the most fundamental beliefs in parenting is that children learn from their parents. While most of us wish this only applied to our ethical and moral decisions, the truth is, it applies to the unethical and immoral ones, too. Even in situations of illegal or unlawful actions, some children may internally justify their parent’s decisions out of respect or admiration for them, which could perpetuate the child’s feelings of entitlement when they reach adulthood.

As children grow to understand society and the importance it places on money and status, they may identify with their parents and come to expect the same treatment their parents receive. Limitations, or a lack of, may also play an important role in what a child feels is acceptable. If they have never been taught to respect the law, they may never do so. If they have always been given what they desire, and they desire to drink and drive, they may not understand why they should not.

In many cases, if a child is raised with certain beliefs, either due to outright teaching or by example, those beliefs will stick with them. In the case of ‘affluenza’ or simply being a spoiled kid, children are taught that they can have what they want regardless of how it may affect others.

If your child is facing DUI charges and you feel responsible because of the privileged life you have given them, speaking to an experienced DUI defense attorney can help.

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Neil S. Ruskin
188 Montague Street Suite 900
Brooklyn, NY 11201

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