LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Troubled actress Lindsay Lohan avoided more jail time on Friday and was ordered back to a drug and alcohol rehab program until January, after failing a random drug test last month.
Prosecutors wanted Lohan to be sent back to jail for six months for violating her probation on a 2007 offense for drunk driving and cocaine possession.
But Beverly Hills Superior Court Judge Elden Fox ruled she should return to the program that she entered voluntarily three weeks ago, and stay there until Jan 3.
Lohan is currently being treated at the Betty Ford Center in southern California in what is her fifth stint in rehab in three years.
"You're staying there past the New Year -- there's a reason for that," Fox told Lohan, who cried on hearing his decision.
"You are an addict. I hope you understand that. I think you have to change your lifestyle," he added, telling the "Mean Girls" actress that if she does not remain clean she would "destroy what is a very lucrative career and profession."
Lohan admitted in September she had tested positive, reportedly for cocaine, in a court-ordered drug screening shortly after being released early from a different rehabilitation program. In August, she served two weeks of a 90-day jail sentence for violating probation in the 2007 case.
The former teen idol's movie career has been derailed for three years because of failed drug tests, missed alcohol education classes, stints in rehab and three brief spells in jail.
Lohan, looking tired and strained, was accompanied to court by her mother Dina, and a counselor from the Betty Ford Center. Her estranged father Michael Lohan was also in court.
The actress wrote a letter to the judge ahead of Friday's hearing, where her lawyer said Lohan was doing her best and that a relapse was part of addiction recovery.
Fox said that if Lohan violates her probation again, she could face six months in jail. But he said that if she does not test positive before her next hearing on February 25, he will convert her sentence to unsupervised probation.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte