The Regina Police Service has recently begun using the new roadside SoToxa device to test for cannabis impairment in drivers. According to the police service, two people have tested positive for THC after the new test was implemented on February 10.
On February 13, the police service received a 911 call reporting a potentially impaired driver on the roadway. Subsequently, the driver was found and tested using the SoToxa device, which revealed THC in their system. The driver, a Regina man, had his driving licence suspended for 72 hours and was the first person to be tested positive for THC using the new roadside test. Later in February, another driver tested positive for THC with the SoToxa and charged accordingly.
“This device will test for recent consumption. Anyone that has 25 nanograms [per millilitre of THC] or higher within their oral fluid will test positive,” Cpl. Andree Sieber told Global News. Currently, the legal limit for THC is 5 nanograms per millilitre. Sieber also noted that even an impaired driver may be able to pass a SoToxa test, and as a Drug Recognition Expert, she will be able to continue to examine the driver for potential impairment using other methods. “The roadside device is quick and simple and we can test right there,” said Sieber, as it is no longer necessary to detain drivers to be tested at the police station.
In contrast to the Dräger device, the SoToxa device is smaller and more portable. The device includes a swab mounted at the end of a plastic tip. When taking the test, the individual is required to put the swab in their mouth in order to collect oral fluids, and the device provides the results in nine minutes. The consequences of testing positive can vary, from driving license suspension, vehicle impoundment and impaired driving charges.
In her interview with CBC News, Sieber said there are currently four police officers in the service trained to use the SoToxa device in the field. “I believe as our officers are more comfortable and we train our officers, we’re going to use it more and more,” said Sieber.
According to a statement released by the Regina Police Service, the SoToxa device is sensitive to the cold and extreme temperatures, stating: “It can’t be exposed to temperatures below 5-degrees Celsius or above 35-degrees Celsius.” Therefore, the device should be kept inside a police vehicle which is either running or parked indoors.