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Winnipeg Jets defenceman will face jury trial on a charge of impaired boating

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

WINNIPEG - Winnipeg Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien will stand trial on charges including operating a boat while impaired, after his lawyer and the prosecution failed to reach a plea deal Thursday.

"We had our settlement conference at 8:30 this morning, it lasted for about two hours and we were unable to reach any sort of a favourable settlement," Mitch Robinson said from Minneapolis.

"The prosecutor sees this as a BWI case—boating while intoxicated—and there's no evidence whatsoever that he was intoxicated."

Police stopped a boat Byfuglien was driving on Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota last Aug. 31, initially because they believed he did not have his lights on as required.

Court documents say the 26-year-old NHLer passed a breathalyzer test but was unable to successfully perform field sobriety tests.

Byfuglien blew .03 on a breathalyzer, Robinson said, well below the state limit of .08.

Byfuglien refused to give a blood or urine sample, so he was examined by a police drug recognition expert who concluded he was under the influence of drugs.

The expert found Byfuglien's pulse rate and blood pressure were high. The report says his eyes were watery and he had a distinct brown stain on his tongue.

The documents say Byfuglien admitted to taking a muscle relaxer earlier that day but could not remember the name of it.

Byfuglien is charged with boating while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and refusing to provide a blood or urine sample. He is also accused of failing to display proper lights and failing to provide enough flotation devices for those on board the boat.

He pleaded not guilty last October to the four charges.

Robinson said his client was willing to plead guilty to operating the boat without lights, but the prosecutor wanted a plea on the most serious charge in the case—refusing the blood or urine test.

That charge carries a maximum of one year in jail, a $3,000 fine, or both. The other offences each carry a maximum of 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.

Byfuglien's five-day trial is scheduled to start on July 23 in Minneapolis.

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