A ninth drunkendriving conviction drew a 10-year prison term Tuesday for a 44-year-old Army combat veteran diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. John Big Lake was sentenced to concurrent terms of 15 years at Montana State Prison, with five years suspended, for felony drunken driving and criminal endangerment. District Judge G. Todd Baugh thanked Big Lake for his military service after sentencing him. Baugh said he wanted Big Lake to receive treatment for alcoholism during his imprisonment. “I have confidence in you,” Baugh said. “I’m relying on you to not be back here again. I hope you can prove me right.” Deputy County Attorney Juli Pierce sought a sentence of 20 years in prison, describing Big Lake as a persistent offender and a danger to the public. Big Lake’s criminal history includes two 1993 convictions for driving under the influence and one each in the years 1992, 1994, 1995, 1998, 2002 and 2003. A DUI charge in 1995 was later dismissed as part of a plea agreement, Pierce said. Big Lake also has a federal assault conviction. Big Lake was on probation at the time of the latest offense, the prosecutor told the judge, and had been released from the state prison two weeks earlier. “If he’s not incarcerated, he’s going to continue (to drink and drive) until he kills someone,” Pierce said. Pierce said Big Lake is a repeat persistent felony offender, a designation that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years under state law. Big Lake was charged in April 2006, when officers responded to a report of a collision on Interstate 90 about 20 miles east of Lockwood. Witnesses said a small passenger car had been traveling east in the westbound lane and two vehicles pulled to the shoulder to avoid a collision. Three men got out of the two vehicles and were calling police on a cell phone when the small car turned around on the highway and headed back in their direction. The men jumped across the highway to avoid being struck when the car slammed into the rear of a parked pickup with its flashers on at 40 to 45 miles per hour. Big Lake refused to provide a breath sample to measure his blood-alcohol level at the time of his arrest. Big Lake later pleaded guilty to the felony charges. He testified Tuesday that he drank three beers and four shots before the accident. He said he also was tired from working 12-hour shifts on a drilling rig for eight days before the crash. Big Lake said he blacked out before it happened. A psychologist testified that Big Lake served in the Army between 1981 and 1991 and was honorably discharged. Big Lake saw combat in the first Gulf War and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, the psychologist said, adding that Big Lake needs intensive treatment for alcohol dependency. Big Lake’s court-appointed attorney, Nancy Schwartz, asked the judge to impose a sentence of 10 years in prison with five suspended. Baugh said some punishment is necessary in the case, but he said Big Lake’s military service and work history also should be considered. “I think underneath all this, Mr. Big Lake is a good man,” the judge said.