San Antonio man, 57, gets 30 years for 11th DWI conviction

San Juan Garcia booking photo (Bexar County D.A. Twitter photo)
San Juan Garcia booking photo (Bexar County D.A. Twitter photo)

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A South Texas man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for what prosecutors say was his 11th drunken driving conviction.

Jurors in San Antonio convicted 57-year-old San Juan Garcia of felony DWI in a January 2014 traffic accident.

A statement from the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office says Garcia was driving drunk when his vehicle struck a motorcyclist. Toxicology tests indicated Garcia had a blood alcohol level of more than twice the legal limit for driving in Texas.

Records show Garcia’s first DWI arrest was in March 1982 and that he served time in prison for several of his later convictions. He was sentenced last week as a habitual offender.

The full D.A.’s statement:

Last week, a Bexar County jury in the 227th District Court sentenced San Juan Garcia, age 57, to 30 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Jurors found Garcia guilty of DWI 3rd or More with a deadly weapon finding. This latest conviction was his 11th Driving While Intoxicated related charge.

On January 10, 2014, around 9:30 p.m., the defendant was driving on WW White Road near Hein, when he struck a motorcyclist, causing a major crash. The victim was rushed to a local hospital with serious injuries. When officers arrived at the scene, they noticed the defendant, later identified as San Juan Garcia, had a strong odor of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, and slurred speech. Under questioning by police, Garcia admitted to drinking “four to six beers.” Garcia also said the victim was at fault for the crash and even blamed the arresting officer, telling him he had ruined his life. Toxicology results later showed that Garcia had a blood alcohol concentration of .21, more than two times the legal limit, when his blood was drawn.

This was the 11th time Garcia had been convicted for driving while intoxicated. Garcia was arrested for his first DWI on March 17, 1982. Just a few months later, in June of 1982, Garcia was arrested for his second driving while intoxicated offense. In 1989, Garcia was arrested for his sixth DWI and sentenced to prison for 5 years. In January 2004, Garcia was convicted for his tenth driving while intoxicated offense and sentenced to 6 years behind bars. During his trial, Garcia took the stand and admitted he had a problem with alcohol, but said he did not have time to get help. During closing arguments of the punishment phase, prosecutors asked jurors to send a message to the community that repeat drunk drivers such as Garcia should remain behind bars. They added that Garcia had not learned from his numerous trips to prison and did not know his limits.

“Mr. Garcia showed a complete disregard for public safety when he chose to repeatedly get behind the wheel while he was intoxicated,” said District Attorney Nico LaHood. “Make a plan ahead of time. Be responsible and don’t make a game time decision.”

DWI 3rd or More is a third degree, punishable by 2-10 years in prison and up to a $10,000.00 fine. However, because the defendant is a habitual offender, the punishment range for DWI 3rd or More was enhanced to a minimum of 25 years up to 99 years or life in prison. Assistant District Attorneys Elizabeth Martinez and Jessica Frazier from the DWI Task Force prosecuted the case against Garcia in the 227th District Court. Due to the deadly weapon finding, Garcia will have to serve 15 years in prison before he’s eligible for parole.