By TG Branfalt Jr.
SCHODACK N.Y. (Reuters) - Former TV star and teen idol David Cassidy admitted to driving drunk in upstate New York under a plea deal on Wednesday requiring him to undergo state-approved counseling and to equip his cars with a breath-alcohol ignition interlock device.
Cassidy, 64, best known for his role as a young pop singer on the 1970s hit show "The Partridge Family," was arrested last summer with a blood alcohol level of 0.10, well above the legal limit of 0.08, after being pulled over for a driving infraction.
He was initially charged with a felony count of driving while intoxicated, then lost his chance to enter a guilty plea to a lesser offense in absentia when prosecutors learned he was at a nearby Saratoga racetrack instead of at home in Florida.
On Wednesday, he returned to court to enter a guilty plea in person to a misdemeanor drunken-driving charge under an agreement with prosecutors to avoid jail time.
If the judge approves the sentencing recommendations, Cassidy would be required instead to complete 50 hours of community service and to have an interlock ignition system installed on vehicles he owns in both New York and Florida.
Such devices require a driver to exhale into an alcohol-breath analyzer installed on the dashboard that prevents the automobile from being started if the motorist's blood alcohol concentration is found to be over the allowed limit.
The deal also would require Cassidy to undergo a state-authorized treatment program for substance abuse, a condition that his lawyer, Lucas Mihuta, said the musician had fulfilled while attending drug and alcohol counseling in Florida.
"I went through three months of rehab and then two more months of intensive alcohol outpatient (treatement)," Cassidy said following his court appearance. "I'm in counseling three times a week, and I am blessed that I'm sober."
Michael Shanley, the Rensselaer County attorney prosecuting the case, agreed that Cassidy's treatment in Florida would "most likely" satisfy requirements under state law.
The judge left open the door to further conditions by ordering a pre-sentencing inquiry to determine whether terms of the proposed deal were sufficient.
The case was adjourned to Nov. 5, when the judge will review the report and presumably render a final decision on sentencing.
Cassidy was convicted of driving while intoxicated in Florida in 2011. His license was suspended and he served one year of probation in that case. He was arrested again in January on suspicion of drunken driving in Southern California.
(Editing by Steve Gorman and Gopakumar Warrier)