2 impaired drivers busted as Regina police roll out new THC-screening device

The Regina Police Service say two people have tested positive for THC after the service put a new tool called the SoToxa into use last week.

Officers received a 911 call on Feb. 13 alerting them to an potentially impaired driver on the roadway. Cpl. Andree Sieber tracked the male driver down and used the SoToxa device: the driver tested positive for THC impairment. 

"This is the first roadside test carried out by our police service," a statement from the RPS said.

Sieber clarified during a Thusday press conference that last week's impaired driving charge was the first time a charge had been laid using the SoToxa device.

Then, another driver was charged with impaired driving Thursday morning after testing from the same device.

Sieber was aware of at least two instances where police used a Dräger device — another Criminal Code-approved device — that led to impaired driving charges.

Bryan Eneas/CBC

The device only registers a positive reading when it detects 25 nanograms of THC or higher. The legal limit for THC while driving is five nanograms.  

Sieber noted that even if a driver passes a SoToxa test, they may still be impaired and as a Drug Recognition Expert, she can still continue to investigate for possible impairment through other methods.

The SoToxa device is new to the police department; it's also smaller and more portable than a Dräger device.

A swab is mounted at the end of a plastic tip on the device. The person taking the test is directed to put the swab in their mouth to collect oral fluids. 

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The swab is then placed into a cartridge and inserted into the device; it takes about eight minutes to read a sample and provide a positive or negative result.

Sieber said there are four officers trained to use the SoToxa device in the field.  She completed her SoToxa training on Feb. 10 and said the department plans to train more frontline members to use the device.

Device is susceptible to cold

The statement from Regina Police Service said the device is sensitive to extreme temperatures. 

"It can't be exposed to temperatures below 5-degrees Celsius or above 35-degrees Celsius," the statement said. 

As a result the device is kept inside a police vehicle that's running or parked indoors, or an officer brings it indoors. 

The person who tested positive for THC while driving last Thursday was sitting inside the police vehicle when the test was administered.