Police: Stop sticks used in pursuit, woman faces charges

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BENNINGTON — A New York woman has denied charges, including drugged driving, after police said she led them on a high-speed pursuit on Route 7 over the weekend.

Police said officers laid out spike strips in front of an SUV being driven by Michele A. Dinova, of Troy on Saturday night after she drove as fast as 100 mph during a chase from Manchester to Wallingford, where she crashed into a rock ledge.

Dinova, 56, pleaded not guilty in Bennington criminal court on Monday to felony eluding law enforcement by negligent operation, and misdemeanor driving under the influence and resisting arrest. Judge John W. Valente ordered her held on a $5,000 unsecured appearance bond, which was posted that day.

Dinova does not have a criminal history, court records show. She will return to court April 16.

A "be on the lookout" alert was issued at about 9:48 p.m. Saturday on a vehicle headed north on Route 7 with its headlights off, Manchester police officer Jason Thomas wrote in a court affidavit. He was stationed off of exit four when he saw the SUV; the 2017 Honda CR-V weaved within its lane and at times crossed the yellow line.

When Thomas tried to initiate a traffic stop, he wrote, Dinova sped up, reaching speeds up to 100 mph, above the posted 55 mph limit. The pursuit continued into Dorset and crossed into the Rutland County towns of Danby and Mount Tabor.

Vermont State Police joined the pursuit and placed a tire deflation system at the twin bridges in Wallingford. All four tires deflated, but Dinova continued driving at speeds up to 65 mph, above the village's posted 30 mph limit. Dinova eventually crashed into a rock ledge. When police removed Dinova from the vehicle, she struggled and allegedly tried to pull away, they said.

Dinova was evaluated at the scene by rescue workers and taken to Rutland Regional Medical Center, where she was found to be uninjured and released to police.

Officers saw several indicators of impairment. Dinova "was responding very slow" and "at times didn't respond at all." She also had "an extreme sway when standing" and "appeared to have slow and slurred speech," Thomas wrote.

A breath sample showed a blood alcohol content of zero. Officers were granted a warrant for a blood draw, but the sample's results weren't included in court documents.

The Honda sustained heavy damage and was totaled.

Ed Damon can be reached at edamon@benningtonbanner.com, at @edamon_banner on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 111.


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