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Now 22, former 'affluenza' teen Ethan Couch back in jail

A psychologist claimed Couch suffered from "affluenza" during his trial for killing four people in a 2013 drunken-driving crash.

An update to this story has since been posted here. 

Ethan Couch, once known as the "affluenza" teen has been released from jail after he was accused of violating his probation due to a "weak positive" on a drug test, authorities said. 

Couch, 22, was arrested Thursday and booked into the Tarrant County Jail shortly after 1 p.m., county officials said, and was held without bail per a judge's order. 

When Couch was released from jail in April 2018, after serving time for a probation violation, he had to wear a GPS monitor, adhere to a 9 p.m. curfew and wear a patch that monitored his alcohol and drug use. 

The warrant issued Thursday for his arrest claimed the patch detected Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in Couch's system. THC is the ingredient in marijuana that causes a high.

That turned out to be a false positive, county officials confirmed to WFAA. 

"It's just more of the same," said Richard Alpert, a former Tarrant County Assistant District Attorney who prosecuted Couch's case.

"Every time Ethan has gotten an opportunity or been given some kind of a break, or any part of the justice system has decided to give him any level of trust that he’s going to abide by the law, he’s proven he’s not deserving of it."

According to the Tarrant County Sheriff, Couch had a blood alcohol content of 0.24, three times the legal limit of 0.08 for an adult, when he killed four people in a drunk driving crash in 2013. He was 16 at the time. 

During the trial, a psychologist testified Couch suffered from "affluenza" and said he couldn't make good decisions because he was brought up in a wealthy household with a lifetime of coddling.

A judge sentenced him to rehabilitation and 10 years probation. The probation lasts through 2024.

With this latest alleged violation, it is possible the Tarrant County District Attorney could file a motion to revoke Couch's probation. That could force Couch to serve the remainder of the time behind bars.

"I think this may be it for Ethan," Alpert said. "I’m hoping that this is going to be the end of his breaks and that people will see that the justice system works, especially the families of the victims."

RELATED: Profile: The lives Ethan Couch took that June night

These are the four people who lost their lives in that crash on a rural Burleson road on June 15, 2013:

  • Breanna Mitchell, 24, whose SUV stalled on the roadside.
  • Hollie Boyles, a neighbor who came to help her.
  • Shelby Boyles, 21, Hollie's daughter, who also came to assist.
  • Brian Jennings, a youth minister who stopped to help while driving by.

Nine other people were injured in the crash, including one of Couch's friends who was left paralyzed.

Many thought Couch should have received a harsher sentence than rehab and probation.

In December 2015, a video surfaced allegedly showing Couch at a party playing beer pong in October of that year. He also missed a check-in with his probation officer that December, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

After the viral video hit the internet, Couch fled to Mexico with his mother Tonya, sparking an international manhunt. While there, some locals said Couch was seen at a strip club doing drugs and racking up a $1,000 tab with lap dances and drinks.

RELATED: Couch captured after ordering pizza in Puerto Vallarta

The Couches were arrested in late December in Puerto Vallarta, a Pacific resort city, after a cellphone trace tracked them trying to order a pizza. Couch was 18 at the time.

"At least this time the violation was not discovered after he had already fled the state," Alpert said Thursday.

In January 2016, he waived his extradition rights and returned to Texas for trial, where he was placed in juvenile detention for a short time before being transferred to Tarrant County jail's maximum-security unit.

RELATED: The incarcerated world of Ethan Couch

Later that month, Couch's trial for violating his probation was transferred to an adult court.

In April 2016, State District Judge Wayne Salvant sentenced Couch to four 180-day stints in jail – one for each person killed in the crash – as a condition of his probation.

He's been out of jail since serving that time. His attorneys said on Thursday he has been clean ever since.

"Ethan has been intensely monitored for alcohol and illegal substance use, including constantly wearing the required patch, for more than 20 months and has never been positive for the use of any substance before," said attorneys Scott Brown and Reagan Wynn. "We cannot make any further statement until we have the opportunity to conduct an investigation to determine if, in fact, Ethan ingested THC and, if so, if it was a voluntary act on his part."

RELATED: 'Affluenza teen' Ethan Couch gets GPS monitor removed

RELATED: Ankle monitoring, drug testing and a curfew: Here are the terms for Ethan Couch's release

This is a developing story and will be updated. Download our free WFAA app to stay up-to-date on all news stories in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

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