Local police departments to use new device to test drug-impaired driving

NOW: Local police departments to use new device to test drug-impaired driving

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. – We’ve all heard about the breathalyzer that law enforcement use to detect alcohol levels, but police agencies throughout Michiana will soon be able to spot drug-impaired drivers.

The new device called, So Toxa Mobile Testing System has been distributed throughout Indiana to 52 law enforcement agencies. Mishawaka Police Department is just one of five police agencies throughout Michiana, who will soon be using the oral fluid device to combat drug-impaired driving.

“It’s just another tool that law enforcement can use to help identify these drivers, get them off the road and ultimately save lives,” Executive Director of Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, Devon McDonald said.

The SoToxa Mobile Testing System is designed for rapid roadside drug screening. It can detect six types of drugs, including methamphetamine, cocaine, cannabis, opiates, amphetamine, and benzodiazepines.

To use the device, an officer must suspect drug-impaired driving, usually done during a traffic stop. But, they must have a valid reason to stop a driver, whether it be because they’re speeding or driving erratically.

According to data from the Governors Highway Safety Association, 44 percent of fatally injured drivers tested positive for drugs in 2016, and the presence of alcohol in fatally injured drivers decreased to 38 percent in 2016.

Lieutenant Tim Williams with the Mishawaka Police Department said this device will help make the roads safer, especially when Mishawaka is close to two states where recreational marijuana use is legal.

“We’ve had an emergence of drug-driving, so it’s become a big concern. A lot of times when we stop someone that may be impaired or intoxicated, it’s not just the alcohol but its another drug as well,” Lt. Williams said.

Driving impaired while intoxicated or on drugs is illegal in the state of Indiana.

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