VENTURA, Calif. – "Growing Pains" (search) actress Tracey Gold (search) was placed on three years' probation after she unexpectedly pleaded guilty to a second felony drunken driving charge in a rollover crash that injured her husband and two of her three children.
Tracey Gold Marshall, 35, of Valencia had pleaded guilty in January to felony driving with a blood-alcohol level greater than the legal limit.
A judge decided Monday to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor, but Deputy District Attorney Jeff Gorrell objected and said an earlier plea bargain was off and he would not drop the child-endangerment charges against the actress.
To avoid those charges, she pleaded guilty to the second felony drunken-driving charge.
"As far as we're concerned, it was felony conduct," the prosecutor said afterward. "I had no choice but to halt the process, stonewall and force her to plead (to an additional count)."
Superior Court Judge Bruce Clark then placed Marshall on three years' probation, ordered her to complete 30 days of work release supervised by the jail and 240 hours of community service.
Since the crash on Sept. 3, 2004, the actress has spoken to high school and college audiences about the hazards of driving while drunk. She has made seven such appearances and plans to continue her work, defense lawyers said.
Outside court, Marshall said she wanted to let students know "every decision you make you have to be responsible for."
"It's been, for me, very healing," she added.
Marshall was behind the wheel when the family sport utility vehicle veered off Highway 118 in Moorpark and rolled down an embankment. The actress and her 4-month-old son weren't hurt, but husband Roby Marshall and the couple's 5- and 7-year-old boys were injured.
The actress played Carole Seaver on "Growing Pains" from 1985 to 1992.