Byfuglien passed breathalyzer: lawyer
Drunk boating charges pending
ROSS ROMANIUK and KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency
|Dustin Byfuglien speaks with the media during the 2011 NHL All-Star Weekend at in Raleigh, N.C., Jan. 28, 2011. (HARRY HOW/Getty Images/AFP)
It was only a refusal to pee for police that has landed Winnipeg Jets star Dustin Byfuglien in legal hot water.
That’s the word from a Minneapolis lawyer representing Byfuglien. Mitch Robinson said Tuesday that the 26-year-old defenceman easily passed a breathalyser test after his recent arrest in the Minneapolis area for suspected drunk boating, but that the NHL player’s refusal to undergo a urine examination has led to a prosecutor’s plan to charge him with a criminal offence.
While Byfuglien awaits the charge for “gross misdemeanor refusal to take a chemical test,” Robinson said his client demonstrated that his blood-alcohol content was “well under” the legal limit of 0.08% when he gave a breath sample to police after his boat was stopped by cops on Aug. 31 on Lake Minnetonka.
“They asked him if he had been drinking. He said he had one drink,” Robinson said from Minneapolis of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office cops who questioned Byfuglien after stopping his boat in suburban Excelsior, Minn.
Byfuglien’s blood-alcohol reading was 0.03%, Robinson said.
“But they took him into custody anyway. Then they asked him to provide a urine sample. He didn’t think that was necessary,” the lawyer said. “He would have been under the legal limit. It’s very unfortunate that he didn’t take the test.”
The charge is expected to be laid within the next month. With a conviction, it carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $3,000 fine, though Robinson said Byfuglien — a native of Roseau, Minn., just south of the Manitoba border — would almost certainly not be penalized that stiffly.
“It is a legal matter, so those things take care of themselves,” Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said in Penticton, B.C. on Tuesday, where NHL prospects are taking part in the Young Stars tournament.
Byfuglien — a Stanley Cup winner with the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks — has yet to be charged and arrived in Winnipeg on Monday to take care of housing matters before leaving town. He’s expected to participate as the Jets open their training camp Friday.
Cheveldayoff said he’s been in regular contact with Byfuglien and his agent, Ben Hankinson.
“For sure, we’ve had dialogue with himself and his agent but our dialogue is mostly about the season,” said Cheveldayoff. “The on-ice stuff. The off-ice stuff, I really can’t comment on.”
A Jets spokesman said Byfuglien won't be available to the media until Friday.
Byfuglien had 20 goals and 53 points in 81 games with the Atlanta Thrashers last season.