Unless he pleads guilty first, veteran actor Robert Conrad will stand trial on two felony drunken driving charges in Calaveras County Superior Court.

Judge David DeVore, visiting from Alpine County, made the decision yesterday after ordering the absent Conrad into court for the preliminary hearing, waiting for an hour for him to show and then hearing prosecution testimony against him.

DeVore ruled that there was sufficient evidence to hold Conrad over for trial on charges he was drunk on March 31, when he was in a vehicle accident that injured him and a Forest Meadows man.

Conrad, who has homes in Murphys and Bear Valley, faces one charge of drunken driving and causing injury and another alleging that his blood-alcohol level was above the state's .08 limit when the accident occurred.

Conrad wasn't in the San Andreas courtroom yesterday when his hearing started about 2:15 p.m.

His attorney, Timothy Pemberton of Markleeville, had filed a motion late last week to postpone the hearing until late February almost 11 months after the accident. He argued that Conrad is still in severe pain from several surgeries he has undergone since March, and takes up to 40 pills each day.

The accident left Conrad partially paralyzed on his right side, although he has recovered much of his movement through therapy.

But last month, a visiting Modesto judge gave Conrad permission to leave the state for personal and business reasons, under the stipulation that he be present for yesterday's hearing.

Conrad took advantage of the decision to take part in a CBS 50th anniversary television show in New York City on Nov. 2.

With that in mind and because yesterday's court date had been set for months DeVore denied Pemberton's motion and demanded that Conrad appear.

An hour later, Conrad arrived at the courthouse with his 18-year-old daughter, Camille.

"Fortunately when (Pemberton) called, I was at home and had just got finished with my therapy," Conrad said.