New device can test Indiana drivers for marijuana, cocaine and other drugs

Law enforcement in Lake County, Indiana is rolling out a new device that can test potential drugged drivers for substances such as marijuana, cocaine, meth and opiates.

The SoToxa Mobile Test device, developed by Abbott, can be administered roadside by obtaining a mouth swab from drivers.

The swab is then inserted into a handheld analyzer, which takes 5 minutes to process before indicating a positive or negative result for each of the six drug categories.

The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) distributed nearly 100 units to 19 agencies in the region, including Gary, East Chicago and Griffith.


There are 87 SoToxa devices currently in use across the Hoosier State with nearly 800 tests having been submitted.

Of tests administered, 55 percent have resulted in a positive test for one or more substance. Roughly a third of the tests came back positive for THC.

Hobart Police Department Lieutenant Ronald Russo said the new device will lead to safer roadways.

"These devices are redefining roadside investigations and will make us more efficient," Russo said. "The faster we’re able to identify and remove impaired drivers and deter this behavior, the more lives we can save. It’s a game-changer."

Drivers can refuse the test in Indiana and results cannot be used as evidence in court to determine the driver's sobriety. 

According to the ICJI, the purpose of the device is to "further establish probable cause, which can then be used by the officer to make an arrest, administer a certified breath test, take the suspect for medical treatment or apply for a warrant to administer a blood draw."