Michael Enright pleaded guilty two weeks ago to attempted murder and assault, both as hate crimes.
Enright has a history of alcoholism dating back to childhood.
His lawyer claimed Enright also has a post-traumatic stress disorder from an attack he witnessed while filming Marines in Afghanistan.
Enright reportedly asked driver Ahmed Sharif whether he was Muslim, uttered an Arabic greeting and told him to "consider this a checkpoint" before cutting him with a folding knife.
After his arrest, Enright declared himself "a patriot" and told the police officers who arrested him that "you allow them to blow up buildings in this country."
When arrested, Enright was carrying an empty bottle of scotch and notebooks describing his Afghan experiences, authorities said.
Enright's arrest came amid debate over a planned Islamic center and mosque two blocks from ground zero, a subject that became a political flashpoint in the weeks before the ninth anniversary of the 2001 attacks.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)