Dustin Byfuglien’s brush with the law is going to get a bit more serious. After being arrested on suspicion of boating while intoxicated three weeks ago, authorities in Minnesota are stepping things up and charging the Winnipeg Jets defenseman.
Hennepin County sheriffs in Minnesota have hit Byfuglien with four charges of boating while intoxicated stemming from the incident on Lake Minnetonka. The details of the arrest help paint the picture of what allegedly went down the night he was booked on charges.
According to the complaint, a water patrol officer on Lake Minnetonka stopped Byfuglien’s boat because the navigational lights weren’t on. According to the officer, Byfuglien’s speech was slurred, his eyes were bloodshot and watery, he was unsteady on his feet and he smelled of alcohol. There were three people in the boat with him and Byfuglien refused to take a blood or urine test.
As CBC’s story on this notes, Byfuglien did take a breathalyzer test which he passed. His case in fighting these charges should be a contentious one.
It’s an unwelcome distraction for Byfuglien as he prepares for the start of a new season in a new location with the Winnipeg Jets. As it is, Byfuglien is preparing to play in tonight’s preseason game in Winnipeg as the Jets make their first game appearance at the MTS Centre. Byfuglien being a guy playing close to home (he’s from Roseau, Minnesota) in Winnipeg and having this off-ice legal problem to get a handle of creates a lot of distractions for the Jets blue liner.
After a breakout season last year scoring 20 goals as a defenseman, Byfuglien is being counted upon heavily to try and help lead the Jets to wins this year. With the rest of the team still being questionably low on scoring talent, they’ll need him to be locked in every night. Having these kinds of distractions will make it worth watching to see how Byfuglien responds on the ice. If he slumps, the Jets are set to be in more trouble than they could be headed for as it is.
Update (4:19 p.m.): The Star Tribune reports that Byfuglien had a blood-alcohol level of 0.031%, less than half the legal limit.
Update (5:07 p.m.): Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff issued a statement about Byfuglien’s sitauation:
“After allowing the legal process to play out to this point and gathering as much information as we could, we are fully aware of the charges against Dustin. 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.”