David Gaston, 62, of Whitewright, was sentenced to 40 in prison for felony driving while intoxicated 3rd or more offense Thursday. A jury found Gaston guilty on Wednesday in the 15th state District Court with Judge Jim Fallon presiding.

A news release from the Grayson County District Attorney’s Office said the case began on Feb. 27, 2018, when Gaston nearly hit another vehicle while he was pulling into a grocery store in Whitewright.

Whitewright officers were already in the store on an unrelated matter.

“The officers approached the defendant as he was pulling a case of beer out of the refrigerator and found him smelling of alcohol and being unsteady on his feet. Following their investigation the defendant was arrested for DWI. A subsequent analysis of his blood showed he was three times over the legal limit,” the release said.

After finding Gaston guilty of DWI, the jury also found that he used or exhibited a deadly weapon, his vehicle, during the offense.

The release said that during the punishment phase of the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Gaston had 10 prior DWI convictions, primarily in another county. Five of those were felony cases involving prison sentences. The evidence showed DWI convictions dating back to 1977, and that Gaston was on parole for a felony DWI when he was arrested on this case.

“For over 40 years, this defendant has demonstrated that whenever he isn’t incarcerated, he’s out on our roadways committing DWI. The only way to guarantee public safety is for him to be behind bars. The jury sent that message by their verdict,” said Assistant District Attorney Matt Rolston who prosecuted the case.

“The first DWI is a bad decision, the second DWI a problem, but the 11th DWI is Russian roulette on the roadway,” said Grayson County District Attorney Brett Smith. “This defendant was never going to stop unless we stopped him. Thanks to this conviction and courage of the jurors, our office should never have to prosecute this defendant again and our streets are that much safer.”

Based on the deadly weapon finding by the jury, the defendant must serve at least 20 years before being eligible for parole. The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Matt Rolston.