Two defendants in two separate Tampa Bay DUI manslaughter cases found out their Florida DUI penalties this afternoon and the sentences varied considerably. Jonah West was sentenced to 15 years in prison and a lifelong Florida license suspension for his DUI manslaughter conviction in a Tampa courtroom today. On the other side of the Bay, Melissa Daddio was sentenced to three years in prison and three year’s probation for the drunk driving accident that took the life of her boyfriend.
You may ask what is the difference in the two cases? We will never know why one judge takes certain factors into account and another judge doesn’t. All we know is both defendants were charged with a first-time DUI in which someone else was killed. For Daddio it was a passenger in her car and with West it was a 30-year-old father of two who was the victim of his driving drunk. Both stories were tragedies, both similar circumstances but two very different sentences. This is the case often with Florida DUI penalties.
According to TampaBay.com, the judge in the case against West partly based his DUI sentence on the fact that West had a blood-alcohol level that was nearly three-times the legal limit in Florida. He also cited the fact that the victim in the case suffered when he was rear-ended by West and had his Jeep flip and land on top of him.
These are the kinds of things that judges take into account. Did the Pinellas County judge sentence Daddio to just three years because she was only 18 at the time of the crash or because of her work to try and stem drinking and driving amongst high school students since her collision? We don’t know but in both cases the defendants seemed to be truly remorseful yet their sentences seems to be inordinately different despite being in courtrooms just miles apart.