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Byfuglien pleads not guilty to impaired boating

Oct 21, 2011, 1:50 PM EDT

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Jets Byfuglien Arrest Hockey AP

Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien has pleaded not guilty to charges that stemmed from an alleged impaired boating incident.

Byfuglien was arrested on Aug. 31 after police stopped a boat he was driving on Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota. As summarized by the Canadian Press, the 26-year-old passed a breathalyzer test but a “police drug recognition expert” determined he was under the influence of drugs.

Byfuglien allegedly “had trouble speaking, was unsteady on his feet and smelled of alcohol.” He also failed field sobriety tests, had an elevated pulse, high blood pressure, watery eyes and a “distinct brown stain on his tongue.” (Not sure what a brown stain on your tongue might imply. I’d wager on chewing tobacco, but I’m no police drug recognition expert.)

Byfuglien admitted to taking a muscle relaxant and a bunch of supplements but refused to provide a blood or urine sample. Said refusal is the most serious of the charges (he’s also charged with failing to display proper lights on the boat and failing to provide enough flotation devices). If convicted, it carries a maximum of one year in jail, a $3,000 fine, or both.

Now I’m no lawyer, but I doubt Byfuglien will do a year in the slammer if convicted. However, a conviction could complicate his work status in Canada.

Again, I’m no lawyer, but I doubt Byfuglien will be barred from working in Canada over this incident. Common sense tells me they’ll figure something out. Or, he’ll get off entirely.

The whole thing sounds like a pretty big hassle though.

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