Leanrda Rosado (pictured), killed in DWI crash causes NYS to enact Leandra's Law. Michael Dillard pleads to felony DWI, admits to 3 kids in his stolen vehicle he meets through MySpace contact. while driving drunk
Release Date: April 20, 2010
Drunk driver convicted in Saratoga County under Leandra's Law
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
By MAREESA NICOSIA, The Saratogian
BALLSTON SPA — A local man faces jail time and probation, among other penalties, after pleading guilty to charges he stole a vehicle and crashed it while driving drunk with several teenage passengers inside.
Michael J. Dillard, 23, who is listed by authorities as a resident of both 102nd St., Troy, and 85 Middleline Road, Ballston Spa, was convicted of a felony driving while intoxicated charge and third-degree criminal possession of stolen property in Saratoga County Court Monday.
Dillard has a past conviction for misdemeanor criminal trespass, but this was his first DWI offense, and it was treated as a felony under Leandra’s Law, Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III said Monday.
The recently passed law allows for a felony conviction on a first-time DWI when there is one or more persons in the car younger than 16.
Dillard’s was the first conviction made in Saratoga County under the new law.
Dillard’s guilty plea stems from a Dec. 27, 2009, incident in which he stole a vehicle from 111 Fairground Ave. in Ballston Spa and picked up three teenage girls at the Price Chopper parking lot in Mechanicville sometime around 2 a.m., before driving to Galway and crashing the car on Antioch Road and Route 29.
At the time of the crash, Dillard had a blood alcohol content of .13 percent, authorities said.
Occupants in the car were Dean Atwell, 22, of 203 Paisley Road, Ballston Spa; Talia Cappabianca, 16, of 113 S. Crystal St., Mechanicville; Tahirih Offield, 16, of 3529 Route 29, Salem; and two minors, a boy and a girl, both 15.
Authorities said Atwell had met the girls through MySpace.com and called them to ask if they wanted to “hang out,” before meeting them in the parking lot.
“Assistant District Attorney Jim Davis and I find this case extremely troubling from the perspective that these young girls would be “friending” men in their 20s through a social networking site,” Murphy said.
He said his office would be working with Child Protective Services to uncover how the girls were able to meet the men.
“I suspect the parents will be questioned as well as the girls,” Murphy said.
After the crash, Child Protective Services was notified and the parents appeared at the police department when law enforcement took statements from the children, he said.
Dillard’s sentencing is scheduled for June 7. He faces five years probationary supervision, 60 days in jail and a fine of $600 for damage to the car.
His license has been revoked and he will be required to use an ignition interlock device, requiring him to blow a clean air sample into it before starting his vehicle, if he chooses to have a license and own a car in the future. In addition, Dillard is required to attend the Department of Motor Vehicle’s “Drinking Driver Program,” obtain an alcohol evaluation and attend treatment, if necessary, Murphy said.
Ballston Spa police handled the stolen vehicle complaint and the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department investigated the crash in the town of Galway.
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