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Winnipeg Jets star pleads not guilty to impaired boating charges in Minnesota

WINNIPEG - Winnipeg Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien has pleaded not guilty to charges related to an alleged impaired boating incident.

Documents with the Hennepin County court in Minnesota show not guilty pleas were entered Friday to all four offences.

There was no indication the hockey star made a personal appearance. It's likely his defence lawyer entered the pleas on his behalf. Byfuglien was on the ice late Thursday in Ottawa in a National Hockey League game against the Senators.

A pre-trial hearing is set for Feb. 2.

Police stopped a boat driven by Byfuglien on Lake Minnetonka on Aug. 31.

Court documents say the 26-year-old passed a breathalyzer test but a police drug recognition expert concluded he was under the influence of drugs.

The arresting officer wrote that Byfuglien had trouble speaking, was unsteady on his feet and smelled of alcohol.

Byfuglien submitted to a breathalyzer test and registered .03, which is within the legal limit. But the documents say he was unable to successfully perform field sobriety tests.

The officer wrote that based on his observations, he decided Byfuglien was under the influence of something and placed him under arrest.

Byfuglien refused to give a blood or urine sample, so he was examined by a police drug recognition expert. Byfuglien's pulse rate was high, as was his blood pressure. His eyes were watery and he had a distinct brown stain on his tongue, according to the expert.

"He formed the opinion that Mr. Byfuglien was under the influence of a controlled substance and was unable to safely operate a watercraft,'' the court papers say.

The documents say Byfuglien admitted to taking a muscle relaxer earlier that day but could not remember the name of it. "Mr. Byfuglien stated that he takes a 'handful' of supplements from 16 or 17 different bottles every day and that he does not know the names of the supplements.''

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.

Refusing the blood or urine test is the most serious charge. It carries a maximum of one year in jail, a $3,000 fine, or both. The other three charges each carry a maximum of 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.



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