Dr. Douglas A. Holt, director of the Hillsborough County Health Department and professor of internal medicine at the University of South Florida, was arrested during Gasparilla festivities Saturday on a charge of boating under the influence.
It was the doctor's first arrest in Florida.
Holt, 49, said he drew the attention of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers after being accused of hitting another man's boat.
He disputes that a collision occurred. He had untied his boat to return home to Davis Islands and had traveled less than 50 feet before he was stopped, Holt said.
He failed a field sobriety test, then refused to submit to a breath test.
An officer arrested him at 4:40 p.m., one of 107 reported arrests during Gasparilla.
The official narrative of events had not been completed Tuesday, Fish and Wildlife spokesman Gary Morse said.
He would offer only this: "We observed Mr. Holt operating his vessel, we stopped him, and we arrested him with evidence that he was operating the vessel impaired."
In BUI cases, you keep your license but face a $500 fine for refusing a breath test, said Holt's attorney, Ty Trayner.
Holt, who serves as secretary for USF's College of Medicine Faculty Council, is often quoted in media reports about public health issues.
At work Tuesday for the Health Department, he sounded shaken as he discussed the incident that put him in jail.
He regretted refusing the breath test, saying he did so at the time because it was the only thing he could say "no" to.
"I'm a very responsible person, but I made perhaps a wrong choice," Holt said. "I certainly put no one in danger."
Colleen Jenkins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3337.