The Ponte Vedra Beach woman who killed a St. Johns woman in a head-on, wrong-way collision while driving drunk on Interstate 95 in 2016 is headed to prison for 15 years.
Jennifer Mae Levin, 30, appeared in Circuit Judge Howard Maltz’s St. Johns County courtroom for sentencing Friday.
On Dec. 20, a jury convicted Levin of DUI manslaughter and other charges after a three-day trial.
That was one year and a day after the crash that killed 91-year-old Octavie Lydia Morand of St. Johns.
According to a report from the Florida Highway Patrol, on Dec. 19, 2016, Levin crashed her Audi Q5 head-on with a 2014 Toyota Avalon driven by Morand while heading north in the southbound lanes of Interstate 95 around mile marker 329.
The FHP report listed Levin’s blood alcohol level at 0.153, nearly twice the legal limit of 0.08.
Sentencing guidelines suggested Levin faced between 10 1/2 and 15 years for the manslaughter charge, and her team of three lawyers worked Friday to secure a sentence at the low end of that range or even below, arguing that Levin had struggled for years with alcohol and substance abuse after growing up without a father. Having made strides in terms of those problems in the past, they said, Levin, a mother of two, had managed to help others in recovery and go on to start a successful business.
But Assistant State Attorney Mitch Bishop told Maltz that Levin’s recent history included other reckless behavior.
Bishop, on Friday, called a Jacksonville Sheriff’s officer who, through his testimony, told of assisting in an arrest in 2015 after stopping Levin for driving, in a “zombie-like state,” the wrong way on a Duval County road while drunk. Breath tests in that stop returned readings of 0.209 and 0.191.
Maltz called the case involving Morand’s death “troubling” on its own.
“But also quite troubling is the fact that a little over a year earlier she was arrested and convicted of DUI in Jacksonville for, similarly driving the wrong way on a roadway while intoxicated,” he said.
“Most people would have seen that as a wake up call,” he went on. “Unfortunately it didn’t deter the defendant in this case and her selfish conduct subsequently resulted in the death in the instant case which changes the equation here.”
Maltz, because of double jeopardy issues, dismissed a DUI with damage to person/property charge for which Levin was also convicted and sentenced her to jail time — that will run concurrently with her prison sentence — for one count of reckless driving. Levin’s driver’s license will be revoked for life.