A Nova Scotia woman is calling for a repeat drunk driver to be declared a dangerous offender — a designation that could see him locked up indefinitely.

Julia McMillan was sitting in her parked SUV last Saturday when a driver struck the vehicle and took off. Later she discovered the man charged with impaired driving in connection to the crash has been convicted of drunk-driving offences more than 20 times.

"I went into tears," McMillan said Thursday.

Terry Naugle, 51, has spent more than 32 years in prison. He was released about a month ago after serving a three-year sentence for drunk-driving related offences.

McMillan said someone with such a long record should be locked away for the protection of everyone on the road.

"To me he's no different with that vehicle than someone standing there with a gun," she said.

The crash happened Saturday night as McMillan, her husband David and their 12-year-old daughter Jill were heading home to West Tatamagouche from a day trip to Halifax.

They ran out of gas near the Enfield exit on Highway 102, pulled over and put on their four-way flashers. McMillan said she and her daughter stayed buckled up in the SUV while her husband jogged to a gas station nearby.

McMillan was watching her husband come down the crest of the hill when another driver hit their SUV. She said her husband is lucky to be alive.

"He was probably about 30 seconds from being on that side that the driver struck," she said.

McMillan's daughter started to panic and began crying and screaming.

"I guess I was in a bit of a fog. I didn't really realize what had happened. I knew we had been hit. I didn't see anything," she said.

McMillan focused on her daughter, who was scrambling to get out of the SUV. The girl thought it was on fire, she said.

McMillan said her husband saw the whole thing.

"He heard the smash, he heard my daughter screaming, he saw the car leaving," McMillan said. She hollered to him that they were OK.

They watched the car that had hit them pull into a gas station, and they followed it. McMillan said the driver got out of the vehicle, which had sustained some damage.

"It was very, very obvious just how drunk this driver was," McMillan said.

She said they confronted the driver, who told them to stay away and not hurt him.

"His comment was, 'leave me alone, I have to have a leak' ... 'and if you don't let me go, I'll be doing it right here,'" she said.

It was then that her husband decided to yell out that the man was a drunk driver and they needed help. The man then tried to flee on foot.

Four RCMP officers who were in the gas station's restaurant chased the man across the four-lane highway and had him in a police car within 15 minutes, McMillan said.

McMillan said if Naugle is convicted, he should be declared a dangerous offender.

To merit that designation, the court must determine that there is a significantly high risk that that person will commit violent or sexual crimes in the future. Someone with that designation can be locked up indefinitely.

Prosecutors in Alberta and Ontario have asked courts for dangerous offender status for repeat drunk drivers. Instead, the courts have ordered long-term offender status.

Judges hand out that designation to people convicted of a serious personal injury offence who are likely to re-offend. Long-term offenders can be placed under supervision for 10 years after their prison sentence is completed.

In June 2008, a judge in Slave Lake, Alta., designated a man a long-term offender and sentenced him to 20½ years in prison after he killed four people while driving drunk.

In 2003, an Ontario man was also the subject of a dangerous offender hearing after several convictions for non-fatal impaired driving. He accepted the lesser designation of long-term offender in a plea bargain.

Man needs treatment: brother

Bobby Naugle said his brother deserves another chance.

"The problem is going back to jail is not going to solve the problem," he said, adding that his brother didn't want to participate in programs while in prison.

He said his brother can't read and can't make change from a $10 bill. He said his brother should be forced to go to the Nova Scotia Hospital for treatment for alcohol abuse.

"The man needs help. He fell through the cracks," Naugle said.

Terry Naugle, who lives near Truro, has been charged with impaired driving, refusing a breathalyzer, failing to stop at the scene of an accident, and driving while disqualified.

He remains at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth while he awaits his next court appearance later this month.