TAMPA — The St. Petersburg Times' Tampa publisher was arrested Monday night and charged with driving under the influence.
Joe DeLuca, 50, was stopped at W Gandy Boulevard and S West Shore Boulevard about 11:15 p.m., according to a jail record.
DeLuca was driving 20 mph over the 55 mph speed limit as he traveled south on the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway in a black Toyota SUV, according to an arrest report. Tampa police Officer Kelly Stead wrote that she saw DeLuca swerve out of his lane several times. Then, while westbound on Gandy Boulevard, DeLuca followed too closely behind the vehicle in front of him, the report states.
When Stead stopped DeLuca and gave him a field sobriety test, according to the report, the newspaper executive showed "multiple signs of impairment during the walk and turn and one-leg stand." Stead wrote that DeLuca's eyes were bloodshot and his breath smelled of alcohol.
DeLuca refused a blood-alcohol test and was taken to the Hillsborough County Jail. He was released on $500 bail, the record shows.
DeLuca said Tuesday that he has retained an attorney to challenge the charge.
"All I can say right now is that I'm sorry this happened. I do, however, respectfully disagree with the field test assessment," he said.
DeLuca, of St. Petersburg, is responsible for the Times' business operations in Tampa. He was named the newspaper's Tampa publisher in 2005. Previously he was director of operations. He joined the paper in 2001 from the Hartford Courant, where he was production director.