Indiana Police Use New Tool to Identify Drug-Impaired Drivers

Many are surprised to learn that the first roadside version of the breathalyzer was founded by a researcher at the Indiana School of medicine. It was then further perfected by another Hoosier (Robert Frank Borkenstein) so as to allow police officers access to immediate blood alcohol content (BAC) results.

For years, Indiana’s police officers have been using breathalyzers to nab suspected drunk drivers, however, the ability to quickly identify drug-impaired drivers was less straightforward… until now.

Fifty-two law enforcement agencies throughout Indiana have begun using the SoToxa Mobile Testing System, courtesy of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI). The new technology is a handheld device that uses an oral fluid swab to test suspected drug-impaired drivers for six different narcotics:

  • cocaine
  • methamphetamine
  • opiates
  • cannabis (THC)
  • amphetamine
  • benzodiazepines

It should be noted that Indiana finds itself once again leading the way in attempts to stop impaired driving, as it is one of the first states in the country to distribute the SoToxa Testing System.

Ultimately, SoToxa will be an additional resource for Indiana’s officers to help identify drugged drivers and take them off Indiana’s roads. Authorities will use SoToxa tests to help determine if there is probable cause for an arrest, use a certified breath test, or apply for a search warrant for a blood draw.

The SoToxa units are reusable, cost $4,500 per device, and were paid for using funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Having helped a number of clients and families who were affected by an impaired driver, the legal team at Boulton Law Group supports the state’s use of the SoToxa device and hope it helps put a stop to drugged driving.

Indiana’s Drug-Impaired Driving Statistics

Sadly, crashes caused by drugged-driving in the Hoosier state are not a rarity.

When comparing the numbers of drug-related auto accidents between the years 2013 and 2018, a number of Indiana counties stood out for their documented uptick in these types of collisions, such as:

  • Marion County: 2013 – 116 vs 2018 – 140
  • Hendricks County: 2013 – 17 vs 2018 – 25
  • Allen County: 2013 – 33 vs 2018 – 72
  • Elkhart County 2013 – 21 vs 2018 – 40
  • Bartholomew County 2013 – 9 vs 2018 – 24

While Indiana is aiming to reduce these incidents throughout the Hoosier state, there should also be a call for the remaining states to take notice, as nationwide stats paint a grim picture with regard to drugged driving.

According to the NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), the ten-year change between 2006 and 2016 saw a sharp increase in the number of fatally-injured drivers involved in drug-related crashes.

In 2006, 27.8% of drivers with known drug test results were drug-positive compared to 43.6% in 2016. The number of known drug-positive drivers increased from 3,994 in 2006 to 5,365 in 2016.

Penalties for Drugged Driving in Indiana

The threat of bodily harm and loss of life should be all that is needed to deter someone from driving under the influence of drugs, however, we know that is not the case.

Anyone arrested for drugged driving in Indiana faces an automatic 180-day license suspension. This is a minimum suspension and can increase if the driver has prior offenses and/or refuses to submit to a chemical test.

If the driver refuses to take a chemical test, they face a year-long suspension of their license that multiplies based on the number of offenses, e.g., 1 year for a first offense, 2 years for a second offense, etc.

If the driver agrees to a chemical test they face a license suspension of up to 2 years, 180 days to 2 years, or 1 to 10 years for a first offense, second offense, and third offense, respectively.

Indiana also imposes fines and jail time for drivers convicted of drugged driving. The amount of jail time and fine total takes into account the number of offenses on the driers record.

For example, a first offense may result in 60 days to 1 year in jail and up to $5,000 in fines. A second offense may result in 5 days to 3 years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines. A third offense may result in 10 days to 3 years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.

Anyone who is still considering getting behind the wheel with drugs in their system should strongly consider the above penalties and fines that may await them after an arrest.

Questions About a Drugged Driving Accident?

If you were involved in a car accident in which another driver was suspected to be under the influence of drugs, you may have the right to seek compensation.

Before speaking to an insurance company, we recommend that you contact attorney Matt Boulton for a free and friendly legal consultation. Drugged driving accident claims have the potential to be complex, and you should never attempt to settle your claim until you fully understand your rights.

To speak with Matt direct, call 317-350-2680. If you prefer to write to us, please use our confidential contact form. Matt personally reviews all website contact received at our firm.

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