Byfuglien charged with boating while intoxicated

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 20, 2011 - 11:38 PM

Sheriff's deputy says Minnesota native and NHL star was under the influence of a controlled substance while boating.

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Winnipeg Jets Dustin Byfuglien (33) smiles during NHL hockey training camp in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011.

Photo: John Woods, Canadian Press via AP

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Dustin Byfuglien was under the influence of alcohol and a controlled substance when he was arrested on Lake Minnetonka on suspicion of boating while intoxicated near his offseason home, according to charges.

The Minnesota native and Winnipeg Jets defenseman took a preliminary breath test at the scene on the evening of Aug. 31 which registered his blood alcohol content at 0.031 percent; the legal limit for driving or boating in Minnesota is 0.08 percent. But Byfuglien also was subjected to drug-recognition testing by an expert with the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, and it was that deputy's opinion that the NHL All-Star was "under the influence of a controlled substance."

The tests included the deputy checking Byfuglien's vital signs and noting a "distinct brown stain on his tongue." Also, according to the charges, Byfuglien said at the time that he had taken a muscle relaxer and that he takes supplements from "16 or 17" different bottles every day. He could not recall the names of the relaxer or the supplements, when the deputy inquired, the complaint added.

Byfuglien, 26, has not been charged with a drug-related offense beyond the boating while intoxicated.

Ben Hankinson, Byfuglien's agent, noted that his client "has a clean record and has never been charged with anything. He's a high-character kid. It's a bad situation he's going through. In the end, everything will be fine."

The charges raise uncertainty about what limits could be put on Byfuglien's ability to enter Canada, which has strict laws on allowing drunken-driving violators to enter the country. The Jets, who relocated from Atlanta to Winnipeg in the offseason, began exhibition play Tuesday night with a 4-3 home victory over Columbus. Byfuglien had two assists, a fighting major and a double minor for roughing, all in the first period.

Jets General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement: "While we will continue to support him in this situation, we understand the severity of the charges involved in this case. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and until the continuing legal process is completed, we will have no further comment."

Byfuglien was charged Thursday with four offenses, the most serious being gross-misdemeanor refusal to submit to blood or alcohol testing. The other charges, all misdemeanors are: boating while intoxicated, no navigational lights illuminated and insufficient number of personal flotation devices available.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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