A DWI charge is serious, which is why it’s a good idea to work with an attorney. Some interesting defenses have come up for people in the past, and one of which that may still be used today is a defense of “affluenza.”
An affluenza defense is one where it’s argued that the person who was drunk or allegedly drunk has such privilege in their life that they can’t understand the consequences of their actions or understand how their actions impact other people. The term was officially created by the psychologist G. Dick Miller, who successfully argued that affluenza played a role in a DWI case in Texas several years ago.
The boy in that case, only 16, had a high blood alcohol concentration of .24, but the psychologist’s claim (which is not recognized as a disorder or term by the American Psychiatric Association), convinced the judge to make the teen serve 10 years of probation. He was at risk of up to 20 years in jail.
The affluenza defense isn’t for everyone, but it can be a good one if someone has been so out of touch with the way that normal society works that they haven’t developed an understanding of how their actions might affect others. For example, a child who is consistently given positive reinforcement with no repercussions for negative actions may not understand that anything they’ve done is wrong.
While ignorance of the law or how your actions affect others isn’t necessarily a defense, showing that someone cannot understand how their actions caused harm or what a conviction would mean for them could be a defense in some cases. If a person’s mental health limits their understanding of their actions or the way that penalties might affect them, then there may be an opportunity to seek alternative penalties and encourage treatment for the condition, such as by seeking mental health treatment.
If privilege is a real factor in a case you’re involved in, then the affluenza defense may be one to consider. Of course, your attorney will work hard to defend your rights and prevent you from facing charges for any accusations against you.