'Affluenza' teen's mother bailed

  • 13/01/2016
Tonya Couch, the mother of the Texas 'affluenza' teen, has been bailed (Reuters)
Tonya Couch, the mother of the Texas 'affluenza' teen, has been bailed (Reuters)

By Marice Richter

The mother of a Texas teen who was derided for his "affluenza" defence in a fatal drunk driving crash has been released from a county jail and placed under home confinement on an electronic monitor.

Tonya Couch, 48, is charged with helping her son Ethan flee to Mexico, likely in violation of a probation deal that allowed him to avoid prison for the crash that killed four people.

He is being held in Mexico while fighting extradition to the United States.

Couch posted a bond on Monday after a judge reduced her bail to US$75,000 (NZ$115,000) from US$1 million on the third-degree felony charge, which calls for up to 10 years in prison.

"She will be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year," Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said.

"She will be confined to her son's house except for visits to doctors and her lawyer."

Anderson said there was a possibility Tonya Couch could flee again.

A psychiatrist testifying on behalf of Ethan Couch, then 16, at his 2013 trial in juvenile court, contended his family's wealth had left him so spoiled that it impaired his judgment to tell right from wrong.

The affluenza diagnosis, which is not recognised by the American Psychiatric Association, was widely ridiculed.

Tonya and Ethan Couch left Texas after a video surfaced on social media in early December showing him at an alcohol-fuelled party, in likely violation of his probation deal.

She withdrew US$30,000 from the bank and informed her estranged husband, who owns a metal works business, that he would never see his son again - sparking a two-week manhunt before mother and son were caught by Mexican authorities.