A 62-year-old Weatherford, Texas man was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday after pleading guilty to his 10th driving while intoxicated offense.
District Judge Craig Towson told Ivy Ray Eberhardt he was "a second away from hurting someone really badly" as he announced the sentence, according to a news release issued by Parker County district attorneys.
"Part of my job is to protect the citizens of Parker County," Towson told Eberhardt. "The only way that I can think of to do that from somebody that has 12 DWI arrests and 10 DWI convictions is to put you in a place that you can’t drive for as long as I possibly can."
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On April 13, 2014, Weatherford police said they responded a call about a reckless driver on U.S. 180 and saw Eberhardt swerving and driving in the wrong lane. When police pulled Eberhardt over, they said he told the officer he had consumed most of a 750-ml bottle of whiskey that was found in his vehicle.
Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain said Eberhardt's case is only now concluded because they had to wait for him to finish his sentence for a similar case in Colorado.
"Eberhardt cut off his electronic monitor, skipped bond and fled to Colorado where he was arrested for yet another DWI offense," Swain said.
Court records indicated that Eberhardt was convicted of four DWI offenses in Travis and Tarrant counties in the 1980s and 1990s. He also spent time in prison for DWI offenses in Parker, Tarrant and Runnels counties. He was also convicted of DWI offenses in Colorado in 2010 and 2015.
Swain said Eberhardt will be eligible for parole after 15 years of his sentence, but he can receive good conduct credit toward reaching that number.
In a statement released Thursday, Jason Derscheid, North Texas executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said:
"In 2014, more than 1,400 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in the state of Texas. It only takes drinking and driving one time to kill yourself, or kill someone else. Convicted drunk driving offenders must be held accountable after the first offense. One DUI conviction is absolutely unacceptable, ten convicted DUIs is egregious."