State of MN Rolls Out Unscientific Oral Fluid Testing Devices

Posted On January 09, 2024 Charles Ramsay

As a defense attorney, I'm deeply concerned about the recent introduction of the SoToxa oral swab device as a tool for roadside DWI marijuana testing. While the goal of keeping our roads safe is admirable, this new technology raises serious concerns about fairness, accuracy, and the potential for abuse.

Here are my key concerns:

  • No Scientific Validity: The accuracy of SoToxa in detecting drug impairment is far from established. Unlike blood tests, which have a proven track record, oral swabs are susceptible to various factors that can skew results, such as recent food or drink consumption and medications. And here's the kicker: some drugs like THC stay in your oral fluid for up to 72 hours after consumption, giving false positives. 
  • Presence of THC Does Not Prove Impairment: The scientific community agrees that even when blood and urine tests are positive for marijuana, the level of impairment, if any, cannot be determined by the level of THC. 
  • Data Privacy: The pilot program's data collection raises concerns about privacy. While the data cannot be used for arrests during the testing period, it can still be used to build profiles of drivers and potentially inform future law enforcement practices. This raises the specter of a dragnet surveillance system that could unfairly target certain demographics.
  • Potential for Abuse: Putting this tool in the hands of officers with minimal training creates a significant risk of misuse. The subjectivity inherent in interpreting SoToxa results could lead to biased or discriminatory policing practices. 
  • Financial irresponsibility: The financial cost of these units, at $5,000 each, raises questions about whether resource allocation is being prioritized effectively.

Instead of relying on unproven technology like SoToxa, I urge law enforcement to focus on good old-fashioned police work to prove marijuana impairment.

  • Observe erratic driving
  • Pullover unsafe drivers
  • Use dash cams as evidence
  • Ask the driver if they feel impaired.
  • Field sobriety tests: These standardized tests, when administered correctly, can provide some evidence of impairment.
  • Education and awareness campaigns: Educating the public about the dangers of drugged driving is crucial for preventing DUI offenses in the first place.

Ultimately, the goal of any DUI enforcement program should be to ensure the safety of our roads while upholding the rights of all drivers. I believe that SoToxa, in its current form, falls short of these crucial principles. I urge lawmakers and law enforcement officials to carefully consider the concerns raised before expanding this program further.


I encourage anyone with questions or concerns about SoToxa or other DWI testing methods to contact me. We are here to protect your rights and ensure that you are treated fairly under the law.