Donald Middleton of Texas has been gathering DWI convictions since Ronald Reagan was first elected president, and with nine to his name, he's now been sent to prison for life, per the Houston Chronicle. Montgomery County Judge Kathleen Hamilton issued the sentence to the 56-year-old Houston man on Tuesday after he had pleaded guilty last week to the ninth DWI, a May 2015 accident in which he smashed into a car driven by the 16-year-old son of Montgomery County cop Rowdy Hayden, CBS News reports. After the crash, Middleton—who authorities say veered out of his lane while trying to make a turn at a stop sign—reportedly fled the scene and tried to get a convenience store clerk to hide him; his BAC was said to be 0.184, more than double the legal limit, per the Montgomery County Police Reporter. He's already spent four other stints in prison for alcohol-related convictions, and KTRK documents all of his other DWI charges, starting with his first in 1980 when he was 20, per Harris County court documents.
The MCPR notes Middleton testified during the punishment phase of his trial on Tuesday and said he had been teased in school and started drinking when he was a high school freshman. His sister says their dad had been a drinker until the night he met their mom (and then never touched a drop again). And Middleton's girlfriend even took the stand, noting she thought he could be rehabilitated and that he could easily give up driving because he didn't like it anyway. But the judge was obviously swayed by Middleton's apparent lack of remorse for hitting Joshua Hayden (who survived), as well as for his prior DWIs, and issued the life sentence. Rowdy Hayden thinks Middleton's sentence is more than appropriate. "For a habitual offender like this, he's proven that he cannot be rehabilitated," he tells KTRK. "And he should spend the rest of his life in prison." (Middleton isn't the first Texan to get life for drunk driving.)