Actress Tracey Gold's drunk driving conviction

America first met Tracey Gold in 1985 when she starred on the hit sitcom Growing Pains… and Oprah first met her when a 16-year-old Tracey appeared as a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show. At the time her fans didn't realize that Tracey was secretly starving herself. But she couldn't keep it a secret for long. Everyone could see that she was wasting away to nothing, battling anorexia.

With intense therapy, Tracey beat her anorexia. She fell in love and married her long-time love, Roby Marshall, and Hollywood was no longer a priority. Then in 2002, Tracey returned to The Oprah Winfrey Show after another personal crisis: Her son Bailey nearly drowned in the backyard pool.

Then, just a few months ago, Tracey was in the headlines again. Just before midnight on September 3, 2004, returning home from a Labor Day barbecue with her family, Tracey lost control of her SUV on the freeway. It veered off the road and rolled over several times down an embankment, injuring her husband and two of her three children.

When police arrived, Tracey was arrested for driving under the influence. Her blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit. In court, Tracey pled guilty to drunk driving and was sentenced to a one-month work release program, 240 hours of community service and three years probation.
Tracey Gold on her accident

Tracey says that fateful night started out innocently. She and her husband, Roby, and their children had just come back from a camping trip and were celebrating Labor Day at a friend's barbecue. "You know, I was with the moms, and kids were swimming in the pool, and it was a very nice kind of family thing," she says.

Tracey explains that, in her relationship with her husband, she almost never drives and didn't think anything of having a couple of glasses of wine during the evening. However, at the end of the evening, Tracey says Roby told her that he'd had too much to drink and wasn't able to drive home. "My first instinct was, 'Well, I'm not going to drive,'" Tracey says. "Because the truth is, and this is something that people will look at with skepticism, and I understand that, but the truth is that I am not a person who drinks and drives. But that night these circumstances came about and he said, 'I want you to drive.' And I said no. And he convinced me. He said, 'It's okay. You've only had a couple glasses. There's no way that I can drive.' … I didn't listen to my inner voice that night."
Tracey Gold on owning her anorexia

Tracey stresses that drinking and driving is not something she has ever taken lightly. "My own code of ethic is that I don't drink and drive," she says. "It's not something that I expected would ever happen to me. I live my life everyday as a responsible, careful, good person, I think. And I made a horrible, horrible, horrible choice that evening."
Tracey Gold on people pleasing

Tracey says that coming to terms with her DUI was similar to how she's come to terms with her eating disorder. "The correlation with the anorexia for me was that I've always been the person who's the people-pleaser, the person who tries to make everybody else happy. I've come a long way and I've done a lot of work on myself, and I'm really proud of myself about that. But it's still a part of who I am."

Tracey explains why this happened in the first place. "I went against my instincts and my gut because I wanted to take care of the situation. And I didn't want to cause a scene and I didn't want to just be, like, 'I'm not going to do this. That's not going to happen.' I compromised what I believe because I wanted to take care of my husband, I wanted to get us out of that situation, and I wanted to help at that point."
A drunk driving accident teaches Tracey Gold a life lesson.

Tracey says this episode was "the lowest point of my life and I've always been a really sort of optimistic person who tries to see things, you know, clearly and see things that they can turn out okay. And I'm always proud of who I am. All of a sudden I felt so much shame.…

"It goes back to my anorexia," she says. "It didn't affect anyone else but me, and I was only hurting myself. This felt like I was at a different stage in my life and here I am: I am a mother and I've put myself in this situation where I'm arrested; I've put my children in jeopardy."

That, Tracey says, is the worst thing about her actions. "You know, a DUI is not the worst thing," she says. "Hurting somebody you love is the worst thing."
Tracey Gold and Oprah

Oprah: My next question to you is, How many times has this problem shown itself to you in other areas and you didn't respond? Because my theory is…you've heard a whisper, you've had a message. … If you don't get the whisper, you get a little pebble upside the head, you get a brick, you get a brick wall, and then you get the whole wall falling down. This is your wall. But I know, just as anybody else who's watching here, for this to happen in your life this way means it's been whispering to you. It's been coming. It's been coming in other forms you did not pay attention to. And this is what it took for you to pay attention.

Tracey: Absolutely. And I agree with you…I live my life that way. Things don't just happen out of the blue. It's not a rock falling from the sky. It happens for a reason. [This happened from] not allowing my [inner] voice to sort of just speak for myself. … I really, really get it now. My inner instincts, my inner voice, they're good.
Jill drove after three drinks

Were Tracey's actions uncommon? The Oprah Winfrey Show sent cameras out to on a typical night to find out.

We met Jill, who was celebrating her birthday and getting ready to drive her friend home. Jill says she had three drinks over a few hours and didn't believe that she was over her limit. She wasn't alone…
Phyllis says Tracey Gold's accident is a wake-up call for her.

Phyllis also admitted having made the choice to drink and drive. "I had a couple of drinks a couple weeks ago, and it was maybe 15 miles north of my house," she says. "I thought it wasn't too far. I was meeting some friends. Had a couple of cocktails, two at the max. And I thought, 'You know what? It's only 15 miles. I'll be very careful. I'll go slow. I'll be fine. Should I take Lake Shore Drive? Maybe I won't.' I did, I was fine. And now I feel like there was a reason that The Oprah Winfrey Show found me."
Phaedra and her group of mom friends

Phaedra e-mailed The Oprah Winfrey Show to explain her own experience with drinking and driving. "[Tracey's] DUI could have happened to me and any one of my suburban mom friends," Phaedra wrote. "All desperate housewives need an occasional night out to unwind from the sippy cups, from the poop and the timeouts." So she and her friends get together every once in a while to have "a glass of wine, maybe two," and then they drive home from each other's houses.

Phaedra thought she knew her limit, but now she wonders where to draw the line. "We're not getting drunk, you know? We're having a glass of wine and getting together and socializing. Where is [the cutoff]? Is it none? Is it one?"

"Well, for me [the cutoff] will be any," Tracey answers. "I think that you can't make that judgment [once you start drinking], you know? I never in a million years would have thought that my blood-alcohol level would have been that [high]."

Are you still uncertain of the effects of alcohol on your mind and body? Find the truth at the bottom of the glass.